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The 2014 Ohio State men's basketball season was the 10th for Thad Matta as head coach of the Buckeyes. He, as accomplished over each of his previous nine campaigns, directed the Buckeyes to another 20-win season (25-10), a record streak in Ohio State history. With a sixth-consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament, another record streak in scarlet and gray history was extended.
The string of 10-consecutive seasons with 20 or more wins is one of many incredible accomplishments charted during the Matta era at Ohio State.
The 2013 Buckeyes used a late-season surge to come within a game of winning the team's fourth-consecutive Big Ten regular-season title. Ohio State then won the 2013 Big Ten Tournament Championship in Chicago and then won three games in the NCAA tournament to end the 2012-13 season in the NCAA Elite Eight.
Over the last five years, Matta's teams advanced to a second appearance in the Final Four (2012) during his tenure, made a then-unmatched four-consecutive appearances (2010-13) in the NCAA tournament "Sweet 16," own three Big Ten regular-season crowns and have appeared in four Big Ten tournament title games (2010-13).
In 10 seasons at Ohio State, Matta teams have appeared in eight NCAA tournaments, including each of the last six. The Buckeyes own five Big Ten regular-season titles, seven Big Ten tournament title game appearances, with four championships. Ohio State teams have played for the tournament title in five of the last years, a league record. The streak of five-consecutive appearances from 2009-13 is a Big Ten Conference record.
After posting a mark of 25-10 in 2013-14, Matta's Ohio State teams have compiled a record of 275-83, a win total which is the most of any Big Ten coach over the last 10 years. Matta's record in regular-season conference play (121-53) is tied (Wisconsin) for the top spot among all league coaches.
Several records and outstanding achievements highlighted Matta's 10th season in Columbus last year but success has been the norm for Ohio State since Matta took over the program in 2004-05.
Matta has done what he is used to doing as a head coach during the first 10 years in Columbus - win. The 13th head coach in Ohio State history guided his first edition of Buckeye basketball to a 20-12 campaign in 2004-05 and followed that effort with a 26-6 record and an outright Big Ten regular-season championship in 2006.
The 2007 season was even better with both an outright Big Ten regular-season title and the league tournament crown as well. Ohio State advanced to the NCAA title game and finished the season with a school-record 35 wins against just four losses. The 2007-08 campaign ended with a streak of five-consecutive victories and the 2008 National Invitation Tournament Title, won over three days at New York's Madison Square Garden.
His success continued in 2008-09 with a 22-11 record, an appearance in the 2009 Big Ten Tournament title game and a trip to the 2009 NCAA Tournament. The 2009-10 season followed suit with a stellar 29-8 overall record, a share of the 2010 Big Ten regular-season title and a Big Ten tournament championship win over Minnesota.
The Buckeyes recorded 34 wins in 2010-11, the second-most in school history after starting the season 24-0. Ohio State claimed both the regular-season and postseason Big Ten titles and entered the NCAA tournament as the overall No. 1 seed.
In 14 years as a collegiate head coach, Matta has produced 20 or more victories each year which includes three years at Xavier (78-23) and one at Butler (24-8). His average record as a head coach after 10 seasons (275-83) in Columbus is 28-8.
As a Buckeye, Matta has more wins than any previous Ohio State head coach after 10 seasons on the job. Fred Taylor was 182-73 during his first 10 seasons (1959-68) for a winning percentage of .713 over that span. Matta's 10-year win percentage of .768 also leads the three previous Ohio State coaches who spent at least 10 years on the OSU sidelines. The 148 wins over the last five years is the most of any previous Ohio State coach over a five-year span. Taylor's run from 1960-64 is second (114-17). Three of those Taylor teams (1960-62) advanced to the NCAA title game. The Matta teams of (2009-13) won 145 games and the 2007-11 squads amassed 144 wins.
Matta is one of just two coaches nationally to post 20 or more wins in each of his first 14 seasons as a head coach. The 2006, 2007 and 2010 Big Ten Conference and 2006 USBWA District V Coach of the Year, Matta tied an Ohio State record for wins by a rookie coach (20) in 2004-05. Gary Williams, the former head coach at Maryland, posted a 20-13 record in 1986-87 with the Buckeyes. Matta (2005 and `06) and Williams (1987 and `88) are the only two Ohio State coaches to record 20 or more wins in each of their first two seasons in Columbus and Matta is the only Buckeye mentor with 10 20-win campaigns at the start of his tenure.
In his third season in Columbus, Matta led the Buckeyes to the 2007 Big Ten regular-season title, the conference tournament championship and won the 2007 Big Ten Coach of the Year Award. He again won the regular-season and postseason league titles in 2010 while earning coach of the accolades. The sweep was the fourth for Matta as a head coach. He accomplished the same three achievements in his only season at Butler (2001) and in his first year at Xavier (2002). In 2011, Matta led Ohio State to its 19th Big Ten regular-season title (now 20), its 13th outright championship and to the postseason tournament crown, the third in program history. As a head coach, Matta has claimed eight league regular-season titles and seven postseason league crowns.
A finalist for the 2002-03 Naismith National Coach of the Year Award, Matta began his duties in Columbus July 7, 2004. No time was wasted preparing for his first season, which culminated in a thrilling victory over undefeated and top-ranked Illinois in the regular-season finale at Value City Arena before a packed house and a national television audience. The 65-64 victory became an instant Buckeye classic. He added another win vs. a No. 1-ranked team when the Buckeyes knocked off top-ranked Wisconsin in the 2007 home finale. Matta has wins over three No. 1-ranked teams in his career after taking care of No. 1 St. Joseph's (87-67) in the 2004 Atlantic 10 Tournament.
Matta, a native of Hoopeston, Ill., was 78-23 (.772) in three years at Xavier and is 377-114 (.768) in 14 years as a collegiate head coach. He coached one season at Butler, his alma mater, before taking the Xavier post. He led the Musketeers to the NCAA Elite Eight in 2004, the best NCAA tournament run in program history.
The Musketeers won 16 of their last 18 games in 2003-04. His Xavier teams were 19-4 in March from 2002-04. Ohio State won 22-consecutive games, which at the time tied the second-longest win streak in school history, down the stretch in 2007. Matta is 55-13 (.778) in March at Ohio State, including a 9-0 record in 2007.
Xavier compiled a 47-10 (.825) record against Atlantic 10 competition under Matta, including a 39-9 (.813) record in the regular season and an 8-1 (.889) mark in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. The Musketeers captured two regular-season championships and two tournament titles with Matta at the helm.
Matta, the 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 Columbus Dispatch Coach of the Year, led Xavier to three-consecutive 26-win seasons, back-to-back Atlantic 10 Conference regular-season championships in 2002 and 2003 and a league tournament title in 2002 and 2004. Xavier advanced to three NCAA tournaments, including an Elite Eight appearance in 2004 following two second-round trips. The three 26-win seasons tied for the second-highest single-season win total in Xavier history.
Matta's 26 wins in 2002-03 marked the highest win total for a second-year XU head coach. He also broke the school record for most victories by a Xavier rookie head coach. Xavier's 26-6 record in the 2001-02 campaign set the mark. He set a personal record with win No. 27 in 2006-07 and the Ohio State wins total (35) that year set a school record originally established by the 1960-61 squad that finished 27-1.
Matta was named 2000-01 Midwestern Collegiate Conference Coach of the Year in his one season at the helm at Butler after leading the Bulldogs to a school-record 24 wins, while also being named National "Rookie Coach of the Year" by CBS SportsLine.com. Matta had spent the previous three seasons as the top assistant to Barry Collier, who left Butler after the 1999-2000 season to take over as head coach at Nebraska.
Butler was 24-8 under Matta's direction that year with an 11-3 MCC record and a league regular-season championship, a MCC tournament championship and an appearance in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Butler won 13 of its last 15 games, including a 58-44 upset win at 10th-ranked Wisconsin and a 79-63 bashing of No. 23 Wake Forest in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The win over Wake Forest was, at the time, Butler's first NCAA tournament win since 1962. Eventual NCAA runner-up Arizona ended the Butler run in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Matta began his coaching career at Indiana State University as a graduate assistant under head coach Tates Locke in 1990-91. Matta served as an academic coordinator and administrative assistant at Butler (1991-94) before moving into the full-time coaching ranks. Matta took his first full-time assistant coaching position under Herb Sendek at Miami (Ohio) University in 1994-95 and helped Miami to a 23-7 record, a Mid-American Conference regular-season championship and a first-round win in the NCAA tournament.
The following year, Matta accepted a coaching position at Western Carolina University under Phil Hopkins and helped the Catamounts to a 17-13 record, the school's first winning record in 10 years. Western Carolina captured the Southern Conference regular-season and tournament championships and advanced to the NCAA tournament where they nearly pulled off one of the biggest upsets in NCAA tournament history. The No. 16-seeded Catamounts had a shot to win against Purdue but fell 73-71 to the top-seeded Boilermakers. Matta returned to Miami under new head coach Charlie Coles in 1996-97 and helped the RedHawks to a 21-9 record, the MAC regular-season and tournament championships and a berth in the NCAA tournament. Matta rejoined Butler's staff in 1997 and helped the Bulldogs to three-consecutive 20-win seasons. He established himself as one of the nation's best young coaching prospects during a six-year assistant coaching stint. In his three seasons as Barry Collier's top assistant, Butler compiled a 67-29 (.698) record, won two Midwestern Collegiate Conference tournament championships and one MCC regular-season title, made two NCAA tournament appearances and earned one NIT berth. He served as Butler's primary recruiter.
In total, Matta spent six seasons as a full-time assistant coach at three universities, helping his squads compile a composite 128-58 (.688) record and make six postseason tournament appearances. He was on the bench in five-consecutive conference tournament championship games and won four league tournament championship rings. He was in the NCAA tournament five times as an assistant under four head coaches and in the postseason NIT once.
A high school basketball standout at Hoopeston-East Lynn in Hoopeston, Ill., Matta was a two-year starter for the Butler Bulldogs in three seasons after transferring from Southern Illinois as a sophomore. He led Butler in assists (100) and 3-point field goal percentage (.433) in 1987-88 and in free throw percentage in 1988-89 (.872). He served as a team captain on Barry Collier's first team in 1989-90 and finished his career in sixth place on Butler's all-time list for free throw percentage (.800). He earned a B.S. degree (education) from Butler in 1990. Matta enjoyed his Butler career high point total of 21 points against Xavier at the Cincinnati Gardens March 2, 1989.
Thad Michael Matta was born July 11, 1967, in Hoopeston. The 47-year-old coach and his wife, Barbara, have two daughters, Ali and Emily.
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