March 14, 2010
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara, the Big West Tournament and regular season champion, has been awarded a 15th seed in the NCAA Midwest Regional and will meet Big Ten champion Ohio State in a first round game on Friday in Milwaukee at 6:35 p.m. PT.
The Gauchos (20-9) defeated Long Beach State in the Big West Tournament title game on Saturday night to earn its first NCAA Tournament bid since 2002. On Sunday, fifth-ranked Ohio State (27-7) defeated Minnesota 90-61 to win the Big Ten championship on Sunday afternoon in Indianapolis.
"This will be a great experience for our team," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "We will be playing against a player (Evan Turner) who many consider to be the best player in the country, and against a program with great tradition."
Turner was named Most Valuable Player of the Big Ten Tournament after averaging 27.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 6.7 assists in leading the Buckeyes to wins over Michigan and Illinois, in addition to Minnesota, in the conference tournament. On the season, Turner is averaging 20 points and nine rebounds per game.
"We knew we would play a top team like Ohio State," said UCSB senior guard James Powell, "so we're excited. We've seen them on TV so many times, we know how good they are. Hey, they're the Big Ten Champs."
UCSB is led by Big West Conference Player of the Year and Big West Tournament MVP, sophomore Orlando Johnson. Johnson will enter the NCAA Tournament averaging 17.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Sophomore James Nunnally is averaging 15.0 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. The Gauchos have won three straight games and nine out of 10 as they enter their first tournament since 2002.
UCSB and Ohio State have met twice. On Dec. 18, 1991, the teams played at the Thunderdome in Santa Barbara with the Buckeyes winning, 82-75. Two years later, on Dec. 14, 1993, the teams met in Columbus and OSU won that game 79-56.
UCSB's allotment of tickets for the game is now SOLD OUT.
Thank you to The Natural Café, a UCSB Athletics corporate partner, for providing the catering for the Selection Sunday event.