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BLOOMINGTON, IN - MARCH 20: The Virginia Cavaliers take on the Ohio Bobcats in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Division I Men

Men's Basketball: Ohio upsets Virginia in first round of NCAA Tournament

BLOOMINGTON, Ind.—  Ohio’s got a knack for upsets.

A knockout performance from Ben Vander Plas lifted the Bobcats to a 62-58 victory over No. 4-seed Virginia. The win marks the 32nd time a 13 seed has upset a 4 seed since the field was expanded in 1985. Ohio rallied from a lackluster first half to claim the win in Bloomington.

Assembly Hall, hallowed ground in college basketball, belonged to the Bobcats on Saturday. They’ve moved an inch further in the NCAA tournament, and now the second round awaits.

Here are a few instant reactions to Ohio’s 62-58 upset of Virginia: 

Second-half rally delivers

The Bobcats don’t deal well when they can’t shoot at rapid fire. They require quick pace of play to wrestle control of the game. When the Cavaliers refuse to speed up, Ohio sets its own tempo.

Ben Vander Plas, leading a late charge with 10 points and two 3-pointers in the second half, asserted that Ohio was going to win by a tooth-and-nail fight to the finish if need be. Vander Plas and crew followed through, and Ohio’s run survived another night.

Slow first half 

Ohio is best when it can grab the lead early and keep piling baskets on. For the first half, Ohio had no traction. Two scoring droughts totaling eight-and-a-half minutes shut down any chance for a runaway victory. Virginia clamped down hard and Ohio fought for any shot it took. Dwight Wilson III, the Bobcat’s go-to force in the paint. 

The Bobcats shot just 10-for-28 from the field in the first half, matching the Cavaliers basket-for-basket but faltering beyond the arc. Ben Roderick was 2-for-6 from three point range and Vander Plas scraped one 3-pointer on five attempts.

Turnovers killed possessions

Boals was well aware of Virginia’s defense coming into Saturday. The Cavaliers routinely rank among the nation’s top defenses and can clean house when their opponents get sloppy. All Ohio needed to do was limit turnovers and win the rebound battle. 

But the Bobcats got caught too many times. 10 turnovers killed any run that Ohio tried to start for the majority of the game. Even when Ohio was within a possession of tying or taking over the lead, a bad pass or fumbling with the ball would be swiped up by the Cavaliers.

Any other team wouldn’t let Ohio get away with those turnovers. Virginia barely did. If the offense can be silenced for as long as it was on Saturday, the second round might be Ohio’s last round.


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