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Despite great victory, Ohio mature enough to learn from recent mistakes

by | CBSSports.com

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Mountain Hawks, Spartans and Bobcats, oh my!

Yes, the meek shall inherit the Earth and the underdogs will detonate your NCAA tournament bracket. Just ask the Lehigh Mountain Hawks, Norfolk State Spartans and Ohio Bobcats, who in a matter of hours Friday night turned this year's tournament upside down.

"It's a big deal giving mid-majors a little love," Ohio junior Reggie Keely said after the 13th-seeded Bobcats upset 4-seed Michigan 65-60 Friday night. "We're starting to take over the NCAA tournament. It's kinda weird. It's a power shift. It feels good. Everyone is getting upsets."

Not only did Ohio knock off Michigan, but No. 15 Norfolk State stunned No. 2 Missouri and No. 15 Lehigh upset No. 2 Duke.

It marked the first time in NCAA tournament history that three teams seeded 13 or lower won on the same day.

Keely said it shouldn't be that big of a surprise that the so-called mid-majors were knocking off the Goliaths from the power conferences.

"The only difference I see in big conference players and mid-major players is size," Keely said. "Their bodies are much more developed than ours. That's a big factor why they get to those schools. Skill level is pretty even and sometimes mid-majors might be better."

Ohio sophomore Nick Kellogg is the son of former Ohio State star Clark Kellogg, who is a CBS analyst and worked the Norfolk State-Duke game. Nick Kellogg said mid-major players are underrated.

"We're just here to play," said Kellogg, who had six points and two rebounds. "I think the gap between high majors and mid-majors is really starting to shrink. We're just trying to put our name out here. We're here to stay."

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Kellogg said there are many reasons players end up at mid-major schools.

"There's a lot of talented guys," Kellogg said. "For whatever reason, because of distance [from home], academic situations ... there's talented players all over. The talent level or skill level doesn't determine where you'll go. There are a lot of really, really good talented mid-major programs out there."

Ohio is just one of them.

The Bobcats (28-7) only lost at Louisville by five earlier this season and thumped UNC-Asheville by 19, the same team that nearly upset Syracuse.

Knocking off the big boys is nothing new for the Bobcats.

Ohio's win against Michigan at Bridgestone Arena came just two days shy of the two-year anniversary of the Bobcats' NCAA tournament victory as a 14th seeds against 3 seed Georgetown. That was their first NCAA tournament victory in 27 years.

"It was fun in the locker room [after the Georgetown win]," Keely said. "Back at school I heard it was a riot -- 'Halloween OU' all over again. I heard it was a big deal back at school."

Keely said the Bobcats let that game carry over to their next NCAA contest, a 15-point loss to Tennessee.

"That year we celebrated a little bit too much," said Keely, a freshman on that team. "This time we've got it down. We know what to expect. I felt like that definitely hurt us [in 2010]. It was unreal. That was my first experience in the NCAA tournament. I didn't know what to expect coming in.

"We're doing a better job tonight controlling our emotions knowing we have another game to play Sunday. We're not as amped up tonight as we were two years ago. We expected to win and we're ready to make it happen again Sunday.

"You have to move on and make new memories."


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