The Ohio Bobcats pulled off an upset over the reigning national champion Virginia Cavaliers in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. Now, they will look to make history.
Only a handful of 13 seeds teams have made it to the Sweet 16. No team has done it twice, but Ohio will have a chance to do that if they can beat Creighton on Monday.
It has been nearly a decade since a 13 seed has made it to the Sweet 16. It has also been nearly a decade since Ohio has been to the Sweet 16. The Bobcats are hoping to get back there, and here’s how they compare to previous 13 seeds to win games, including opponents, margin of victory, key players and more.
Last time a 13 seed made the Sweet 16
In the NCAA Tournament’s history, six 13 seeds have made it to the Sweet 16. Here are the six of them:
- 1988: Richmond
- 1998: Valparaiso
- 1999: Oklahoma
- 2006: Bradley
- 2012: Ohio
- 2013: La Salle
Ohio will be looking to make it seven. In order to do so, they’ll need to beat the Creighton Blue Jays, a team that escaped their opening-round game with a close, one-point victory over UC Santa Barbara. Meanwhile, the Bobcats knocked off Virginia, the defending national champions.
How many 13 seeds have made it to the Sweet 16?
- Opponents: 4-seed Indiana, 5-seed Georgia Tech, 1-seed Temple
- Margin of victory: 3.5 points per game
After winning the Colonial Athletic Association tournament following a 21-6 regular season, Richmond made the NCAA Tournament and was able to go on a bit of a run. They knocked off Bob Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers and beat the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets before a 22-point loss to the top-seeded Temple. This run set the ground for Richmond to become the first ever 15-seed to win a game in the NCAA Tournament against Syracuse a few years later.
- Peter Woolfolk: 18.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 0.7 spg
- Rodney Rice: 12.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.3 apg
- Ken Atkinson: 11.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.3 apg
- Steve Kratzer: 6.7 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.0 spg
The biggest name on this list is Kenny Atkinson. He never played in the NBA after going undrafted in 1990, but he had a 14-year playing career overseas and recently was the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets. Currently, he is an assistant coach with Tyronn Lue’s Los Angeles Clippers.
- Opponents: 4-seed Ole Miss, 12-seed Florida State, 8-seed Rhode Island
- Margin of victory: 3.5 points per game
Valparaiso won the Mid-Continent Conference in 1998 and made it to the NCAA Tournament. It looked like they were on their way to a first-round exit before Bryce Drew hit an incredible buzzer-beater when the Crusaders inbounded the ball downcourt and got the shot up in just 2.5 seconds. They stayed hot against fellow double-digit seed Florida State before their run game to an end against Rhode Island.
- Bryce Drew: 20.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 5.0 apg, 2.7 spg
- Zoran Viskovic: 13.7 ppg, 4 rpg, 1.3 bpg
- Jamie Sykes: 11.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.0 apg
- Bill Jenkins: 6.7 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.3 apg
Drew was the star of the tournament for the Crusaders. He made the all-regional tournament team and would go on to become the 16th overall pick in 1998 NBA Draft by the Houston Rockets. He would play for three NBA teams (the Rockets, Bulls, and Hornets) through 2004 before heading overseas for a couple of years. Since then, Drew has been a head coach at Valparaiso, Vanderbilt, and most recently, Grand Canyon University. He just led Grand Canyon to their first NCAA Tournament berth in school history.
- Opponents: 4-seed Arizona, 5-seed Charlotte, 1-seed Michigan State
- Margin of victory: Seven points per game
Oklahoma was given a 13-seed, which is rare for a Power 5 conference, after a 20-10 season. They got to take on Arizona in the first round and won by a single point before dispatching mid-major Charlotte. Kelvin Sampson’s squad couldn’t quite get by Michigan State and ended their run in the Sweet 16.
- Eduardo Najera: 14.7 ppg, 11.7 rpg, 1.7 spg, 1.7 bpg
- Eric Martin: 11.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.7 apg
- Ryan Humphrey: 10.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.0 spg, 1.0 bpg
- Alex Spaulding: 9.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 3.7 apg, 1.0 spg
Najera was a stud during his college days and he became a solid rotational big-man at the NBA level. He averaged 4.9 points and 3.7 rebounds per game during his 12-year NBA career. He is now a scout with the Dallas Mavericks.
- Opponents: 4-seed Kansas, 5-seed Pittsburgh, 1-seed Memphis
- Margin of victory: Five points per game
Bradley went 20-10 during the regular season and made it into the tournament via an at-large bid. The Missouri Valley Conference team would go on a run from there, knocking off Kansas and Pittsburgh en route to a Sweet 16 appearance. Bradley is often overlooked when looking back at this tournament, as the 11-seeded George Mason went on a Final Four run during the 2006 tournament.
- Marcellus Sommerville: 19.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 1.0 spg
- Patrick O’Bryant: 14.7 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 1.0 spg
- Lawrence Wright: 11.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.0 apg
- Daniel Ruffin: 7.3 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 5.0 apg, 1.7 spg
The Braves had a well-balanced offense during their run to the Sweet 16 with a couple of pros on their roster. Sommerville went on to have a lengthy overseas career after his time at Bradley. Meanwhile, O’Bryant went on to become a top-10 pick in the 2006 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors. He played five seasons in the NBA with the Warriors, Boston Celtics, and Toronto Raptors. He played a career-high 26 games with the Celtics during the 2008-09 season.
- Opponents: 4-seed Michigan, 12-seed South Florida, 1-seed UNC
- Margin of victory: 5.5 points per game
The Bobcats nearly got further than any other 13-seed in history. They took the UNC Tar Heels to overtime in the Sweet 16 but ultimately lost. Before that, they dealt losses to the Wolverines and the South Florida Bulls in an impressive run. Nine years later, the 2021 Bobcats are looking to repeat history.
- Walter Offutt: 19.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.0 apg, 2.3 spg
- D.J. Cooper: 16.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 6.0 apg, 1.3 spg
- Nick Kellogg: 9.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.0 apg
- Ivo Baltic: 5.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.7 spg
Ohio produced a lot of steals during the NCAA Tournament, and that’s one of the main reasons that they were able to win. They played a lot of great defense and frustrated even the best Power 5 programs. Though Ohio put forth good numbers and performances, none of their players were drafted into the NBA. They haven’t seen a player get drafted since 2003, though Cooper and Kellogg have enjoyed overseas careers.
La Salle (2013)
- Opponents: 13-seed Boise State (First Four game), 4-seed Kansas State, 12-seed Ole Miss, 9-seed Wichita State
- Margin of victory: Two points per game
Just one year after Ohio’s successful run, La Salle burst onto the scene and made the Sweet 16. Their run was impressive, as it started in the First Four against the Boise State Broncos and continued as they knocked off two other teams before falling at the hands of Wichita State. Nonetheless, the three games won by a 13 seed is the NCAA record and will likely stand until a 13 seed can make their way to the Elite Eight.
- Ramon Galloway: 18.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.3 spg
- Jerrell Wright: 14.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.0 bpg
- Tyrone Garland: 14.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.5 spg
- Sam Mills: 10 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.8 apg
La Salle relied heavily on these four players for their offense during the NCAA Tournament. Galloway, a South Carolina transfer, was their star and Garland provided pop for them off the bench. None of these players ended up playing in the NBA, but Galloway is still playing overseas and had a handful of Summer League stints with NBA teams.