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Better Know A Gavitt Tipoff Games Opponent: Ohio State

Ugh, these guys?

I don't even want to know.
I don't even want to know.
Jared Wickerham

Marquette has a varying history with the members of the Big Ten.  They have a long running series with Wisconsin, of course, and there are a few other schools that MU has squared off with over the years.  With the announcement of the Gavitt Tipoff Games and at least six games against Big East opponents, we're going to check in on Marquette's history against each of the 13 teams and see what could make for the most interesting matchups.

For lack of any particular order of importance, we'll go in order of how many times Marquette has seen each particular opponent.  This week, we look at the most recent non-Badgers B1G team that has been on the schedule.

Ohio State

All Time Series: Ohio State leads, 6-4

Last Meeting: November 16, 2013

The less that we have to talk about the last time that Marquette played Ohio State, the happier we'll all be.  Although, I guess if you wanted to talk about the first half, that would be kind of okay.  It's only kind of okay because it was still only a 38 point half, and I do mean that was the combined point total.  With that said, MU will travel to Columbus to see the Buckeyes again this season, so unless that game turns into an instant classic, I'm guessing that Marquette and Ohio State would both rather try to avoid playing each other in the Gavitt Games series.

Last season's game was the first contest between the two schools in nearly 20 years.  Marquette took both ends of a home and home series back in 1993 and 1994.  The 1993 game was the first between the two schools in a home arena since 1950, with two games in the middle coming on a neutral floor.  MU came away with a 64-60 win on December 27, 1967 in the semifinals of the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu.  Three seasons later, Marquette fell to Ohio State in the Elite Eight by a final of 60-59.  It was the first loss of the season for a Warriors squad ranked #2 in the country at the start of the NCAA tournament, and it also snapped a 39 game winning streak for Marquette, as they had finished the 1969-70 season with an NIT title.  Back in 2002, USA Today named that 1971 game one of the 63 greatest games in NCAA tournament history.

The Buckeyes are currently led by Thad Matta.  He's been running the show since 2004, when he made the jump from Xavier down in Cincinnati to the state capitol and the most important state run school in Ohio.  Matta's built a record of 275-83, winning at least 20 games every single year and only missing the NCAA tournament twice in his 10 seasons.  More impressively, in the eight seasons that Ohio State has made the tournament under Matta, they've been either a 1 or a 2 seed six times.  That's a remarkable run of not just consistency, but consistency at a nationally elite level.  Think about it this way: A down year for Ohio State under Matta isn't missing the tournament, it's being a six seed like they were this past season.  Matta's done it with high level talent, too: The Buckeyes have had nine players selected in the NBA Draft during his tenure, with seven of them being taken in the first round.  Three of those picks - Greg Oden, Mike Conley, and Evan Turner - were taken with a top 4 pick.

While Matta has coached top flight talent to repeated success, it hasn't translated to sellout crowds.  This past season, Ohio State averaged 16,474 fans per game at Value City Arena, where capacity is 18,809.  The obvious statement there is that yes, this was a down season for Ohio State where they "only" managed a 6 seed in the NCAAs.  A year earlier, OSU ended up as a 2 seed, finished the season ranked #7 in KenPom, and only averaged 16,524 fans.  What about 2011, when they were a 1 seed and finished as the best team in KenPom? 15,125.  Fun Fact: Ohio State's student tickets cost $162, and you don't get every single game included in that pack.