March 20 (UPI) — The No. 13 seed Ohio Bobcats stunned the defending champion Virginia Cavaliers 62-58 in the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament Saturday in Bloomington, Ind.
Jason Preston finished with 11 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists for the Bobcats, who reached the tournament after winning the Mid-American Conference championship.
Ben Vander Plas scored eight of his team-best 17 points during an 18-4 run in the second half to erase a seven-point deficit and give the Bobcats a 49-42 advantage. Ohio (17-7) never trailed Virginia again.
The Bobcats are scheduled to play No. 5 seed Creighton on Monday in the second round. The Bluejays held off No. 12 seed UC Santa Barbara 63-62 to advance.
Last year’s NCAA tournament was called off because of the COVID-19 pandemic, delaying Virginia’s title defense. The Cavaliers arrived in Indianapolis on Friday due to coronavirus issues, and now they are heading back to Charlottesville, Va.
“Our guys were again hopeful we’d get this opportunity,” Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said. “The NCAA allowed us to come in in a unique way. I’m thankful for it, but it just stings right now to not advance in this tournament.”
Sam Hauser recorded 15 points and nine rebounds for the fourth-seeded Cavaliers (18-7), who captured the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title but had to withdraw from the ACC tournament because of a positive COVID-19 test.
The Cavaliers spent seven days in quarantine and were restricted to virtual meetings to prepare for Ohio. After becoming the last team to arrive at the tournament site, Virginia still had to complete two rounds of testing before being cleared to compete.
Virginia struggled to score in the second half and shot only 35% from the field in the game. Trey Murphy III was the only other Cavaliers player to score in double figures (12).
Also Saturday, 10th-seeded Maryland upset No. 7 seed UConn 63-54. No. 1 seed Michigan cruised past Texas Southern 82-66, while No. 2 seeds Iowa and Alabama dominated their matchups to reach the next round.
Before Saturday’s games began, the Oregon-VCU matchup was declared a no-contest because of COVID-19 issues within VCU’s program.
VCU head coach Mike Rhoades said the Rams received multiple positive COVID-19 tests within the past 48 hours, forcing them to pull out of the tournament. It was the first NCAA tournament game canceled or ruled a no-contest because of coronavirus complications.
The Ducks automatically advanced to the second round following the cancellation. They will play Iowa in the next round of the tournament.