By Paul Gotham
BUFFALO, NY – The last time Jordan Sibert participated in the NCAA Tournament he wore the scarlet and grey of Ohio State University. When the ball goes up Thursday, Sibert will face a few of his former teammates.
Who says the NCAA Tournament Committee doesn’t give a nod to storylines?
Sibert and the 11-seed Dayton Flyers will do battle with 6-seed OSU Buckeyes in the second round of the South Region at the First Niagara Center.
“Definitely excited when I heard that we were playing them,” Sibert said Wednesday’s press conference at the First Niagara Center. “You know, every transfer would love to get a chance to go against their old school again.”
Sibert averaged a little more than eight minutes of playing time in 25 games as a freshman. The Cincinnati, Ohio native played 11.4 minutes in 24 games as a sophomore. He watched from the bench as the Buckeyes advanced to the 2012 Final Four before falling to Kansas, 64-62.
“No hard feelings at all,” Sibert about his decision to transfer. “Thad (Ohio State coach Matta) did a great job helping me find a new place. My choice for Dayton was pretty easy.”
When it came to the choice, the recruiting pitch had already been done. Dayton head coach Archie Miller was an assistant under Matta at OSU and responsible for bringing Sibert to Columbus.
“I’ve had a great relationship with Coach Archie,” Sibert said. “He’s actually the one who recruited me to Ohio State. Me being from Cincinnati, making that trip to Dayton was definitely an easy choice for me.”
Sibert paces the Flyers with 12.6 points a game. He hits 43.9 percent from behind the arc.
Ohio State holds opponents to 59.8 points a game and limits shooters to 29.4 percent behind the arc.
“They definitely take a lot of pride in denying that pass and trying to get steals and turning teams over,” Sibert said. “So we’ve definitely looked at that on film, and that’s one thing that we want to make sure we take pride in the ball and make sure we don’t turn it over and just try to be as protective as we can. That’s something we know that they take pride in. That’s where they do score. So it’s something we want to limit for them.”
Sibert’s former teammates have kept him on their radar.
“Obviously, he’s done a phenomenal job of scoring the basketball,” said two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Craft. “He’s one of their leading scorers on the team. The way he’s shooting the ball, he’s done a good job of not being one dimensional. Obviously, he can shoot it and put it in from the three‑point line, but he can pull up and get to the rim when he needs to, too, and that always makes it difficult. We’ve seen him in the spring and the summer, and we’ve been through the battles with him. So it’s not a huge surprise to us to see him being so successful.”
Ohio State leads the all-time series, 6-3. The Buckeyes won the last meeting between the two teams, 74-63 in the quarter-finals of the 2008 NIT Tournament.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t like I’m not hyped about the game,” Sibert said. “Playing against your friends and going against people who you’ve grown up with is definitely, definitely something to be excited about. But at the end of the day, I want to win. Me and my teammates want to be considered winners at the end. It’s not about me. It’s not about me playing against old teammates. It’s not about Jordan or Coach Miller versus Ohio State. It’s about Dayton Flyers versus Ohio State. And at the end of the day, we just want to win.”
A 12:15 tip time is scheduled Thursday.