Enough with the publicity about there being a record four Ohio teams in the Sweet 16, it's time for the 1962 national championship rematch between a pair of rivaling state schools.
Lost in the glorification of the Buckeye state is the startling number of squads from the Midwest in regional semifinals (nine) -- showcasing the nation's hotbed of college basketball.
But that's neither here nor there, Ohio State and Cincinnati two program's with storied traditions, including battles in the 1961 and 1962 national championships -- both UC victories -- will finally meet after stepping onto the hardwood together just once in the past 50 years.
OSU is the notorious big brother to Cincy, but none of that will matter on Thursday night. The Buckeyes have refused to play the smaller school located nearly 200 miles away, down Interstate 71.
The lone time they agreed to play their Ohio brethren, the Cincy program was in shambles back in 2006, following the departure of future Hall of Fame coach Bob Huggins.
That season Ohio State found a way to squeeze UC onto its schedule in the John Wooden Classic showcase in Indianapolis.
"Ohio State loved playing us during the regular season when we had [future NFL player] Conor Barwin guarding [future No. 1 draft pick] Greg Oden," UC head coach Mick Cronin points out.
That was the same year that Thad Matta -- despised former Xavier coach -- recruited three five-star recruits that included Oden, lottery pick Mike Conley Jr. and draft pick Daequan Cook. OSU finished national runner-ups that season.
For this duel, the scales have been tipped, albeit slightly. Mick Cronin, now in his sixth year at the Bearcats' helm, has re-tooled a program in desperate need of a savior.
Cronin has led UC not only to back-to-back NCAA tourney appearances, but appearances with at least one win.
Senior forward Yancy Gates headlines UC's roster for its mega-state matchup with OSU. Gates -- a local recruit from Withrow High School in Cincinnati -- is the lone five-star recruit of the Cronin era, besides the one-and-done Lance Stephenson.
Cashmere Wright a four-star recruit and second team All-Big East guard Sean Kilpatrick pace the backcourt. These two players spearhead their unorthodox four-guard attack.
ESPN.com college basketball writer Myron Medcalf projects in his six Sweet 16 surprises that the winner of Cincy-Ohio State will be the Bearcats.
The fact that Medcalf, in addition to ESPN pundit Doug Gottlieb -- who claims that UC has a legit chance of knocking off "The" Ohio State University -- is indicative of how much of a nail-bitter fans are in for between these two Ohio programs.
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