The highlight of the event pits Ohio State and cross-state rival Cincinnati – a pair of nationally-prominent programs that have not played since the 1962 NCAA National Championship game when UC beat Ohio State, 71-59, to cap a run of back-to-back national championships. In 1961, UC also beat OSU in the title contest, claiming a 70-65 overtime victory. Separated by less than 100 miles, both programs have been regional and national contenders throughout their histories, but have not met in over 40 years. They have met only eight times in history. Their last regular season meeting was Dec. 10, 1921.
"We strive to create the type of competitive matchups that you would expect to see at the Final Four," said Kent Atherton, Pantheon's President & CEO. "Once in a while that means you also have the opportunity to create a game with some historical significance. Ohio State vs. Cincinnati is such a game."
While Cincinnati and Purdue are repeat participants in the Wooden Tradition, Ohio State and Butler will appear for the first time. In a college basketball doubleheader that honors the legend of one of the game's greatest coaches, it is another coach that helps bring the Buckeyes and Bulldogs to the Wooden Tradition.
Second-year Ohio State coach Thad Matta, a Butler alum and former head coach, will coach in the Wooden Tradition for the second time, himself. Matta led Xavier to a near-upset of Indiana during the 2003 Wooden Tradition. In 2006, he is expected to be joined by Buckeyes freshmen Greg Oden and Mike Conley, a pair of highly-touted recruits from Indianapolis' Lawrence North High School.
Like Ohio State, the Bulldogs will appear in the prestigious doubleheader for the first time. Coached by Todd Lickliter, a former Matta assistant and his Butler successor, Butler will become the fourth university from Indiana to participate since the Wooden Tradition's inaugural season in 2000.
Purdue, for whom Wooden was a three-time All-American from 1930-32, has appeared in every Wooden Tradition except in 2003, when Indiana made its lone appearance.
An advance order form is available online at woodentradition.com or ConsecoFieldhouse.com. Ticket prices range from $10 to $125, and include both games of the doubleheader.
Established in 2000, the John R. Wooden Tradition is an annual tribute to the legendary former coach and the excellence he personifies. Similar to the standards established by the Wooden Classic, its California-based sibling founded in 1994, the event hosts college basketball's premier programs. The Wooden Tradition is a celebration of the game of basketball and the activities benefit Special Olympics Indiana. The 2006 John R. Wooden Tradition Golf Tournament will be held on Sept. 26 at Prairie View Golf Club, the John R. Wooden Coaches Dinner will be held on Nov. 25 at The Westin Indianapolis.
Pantheon International is a privately held sports marketing & event management firm that own event properties in California, Indiana, New York and Florida. Pantheon specializes in providing unique corporate marketing platforms through its high profile sports events. The company is a niche leader at originating and producing marquee live sports entertainment that create powerful bonds between corporations and the passionate affinity groups that permeate sports.