The Bobcats have their dance partner.

After defeating Buffalo in Saturday’s Mid-American Conference Tournament Championship, Ohio received its first bid to the NCAA Tournament since 2012. And after just a few anxious hours of waiting, the Bobcats finally know who’ll they’ll face in the first round of the Big Dance. 

In the West Region, No. 13 seeded Ohio will battle the No. 4 seeded Virginia Cavaliers in the first round of the tournament on Saturday. The news was announced during Sunday night’s “Selection Sunday” telecast on CBS. 

The last time Ohio made the tournament, the Bobcats put the world on notice. Led by coach John Groce and Ohio legend D.J. Cooper, Ohio advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1964. On its path throughout the tournament, the No. 13 seeded Bobcats beat No. 4 Michigan 65-60 and then followed that up by beating No. 12 ranked South Florida 62-56. 

The Bobcats nearly shocked the world a third time that season against top-ranked North Carolina but fell to the Tar Heels 73-65 in overtime. 

Like 2012, Ohio has another prolific point guard running the show. Jason Preston has been huge for the Bobcats all year but specifically during the postseason. Preston’s 22-point performance against the Bulls capped off a dominant three-game performance for the tournament MVP. 

 “No disrespect to Marreon Jackson, but I think J.P. is the best player in the league,” Ohio coach Boals said following the MAC Championship. “I think he’s gonna make a lot of money playing this game someday.”  

Preston and the Bobcats will have to be at their best to beat the Cavaliers. Virginia is still technically the defending national champion from 2019 after the tournament was canceled in 2020. Virginia finished its season atop the ACC regular season standings but was forced to cancel its conference semifinal game against Georgia Tech. 

Boals and the Bobcats didn’t care who they were seeded against, but they are amped for a shot at the champs. 

“We get a chance to shock the National Champs,“ Boals said.