Skip to content

Thad Matta and Sean Miller put friendship on the line in Sweet 16

Mar 28, 2013, 1:21 PM EDT

Thad Matta

The most intriguing part of the matchup between No. 2 seed Ohio State and No. 6 seed Arizona has less to do with the Buckeyes and the Wildcats that will be on the court than the ones that will be stalking the sidelines.

Thad Matta and Sean Miller are good friends with a coaching connection that dates back two decades. Back in 1994, Matta was hired as an assistant coach at Miami (OH), where Miller was already a member of the staff. While their career paths separated as both bounced between assistant coaching gigs over the next few years, when Matta was hired as the head coach at Xavier, he scooped up Sean Miller from NC State to be his lead assistant.

He even let Miller live in his house, with Miller’s pregnant wife and two sons, while they went house hunting.

That decision led directly to Miller’s first head coaching gig, as he was hired to replace Matta when Matta took over at Ohio State in 2004.

It gets better: this isn’t the first time the two have met in the NCAA tournament. The last time? 2007, when Ron Lewis hit this memorable shot and with Gus Johnson calling the action:

Perhaps the strongest indicator of how close these two are is that, despite regaling the media with stories about the pranks that they’ve pulled on each other, Matta still doesn’t bring up this win with Miller:

As a result of how that game unfolded, it’s one of the few subjects neither Miller nor Matta bring up with one-another. In addition to the heartbreak of wasting a late nine-point lead for Xavier, the outcome was controversial because referees opted not to call an apparent intentional foul on Greg Oden for shoving a Musketeers player out of bounds with 10 seconds left in regulation.

“That was as big a heartbreaker as I can remember,” said Xavier director of basketball administration Mario Mercurio, who worked under both Matta and Miller as well. “I’ve never watched a tape of that game. I’ve never seen Ron Lewis’ shot except for when it was live. I would say that not many people at Xavier acknowledge that game’s existence. I don’t know if Sean and Thad talk about that game much, but I know this. I never talk to Sean about it.”

Hopefully, we’ll get a game that’s just as exciting tonight.

And I doubt that another heart-breaking loss would hurt their friendship.

“When you lose the game —and hopefully that won’t be me — it’s a little bit easier, I believe, to deal with because no matter who Ohio State plays, I always cheer for them because of my relationship with Thad,” Miller said.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Latest Posts
  1. Frank Mason playing with sore wrist for Kansas in World University Games

    Jul 7, 2015, 10:30 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The junior point guard is one of several banged up Jayhawks.

  2. Michigan State’s Eron Harris suspended indefinitely following drunk driving arrest

    Jul 7, 2015, 9:06 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Eron Harris averaged 17.2 points per game for West Virginia in the 2013-14 season.

  3. Top 10 plays from the FIBA U19 World Championships

    Jul 7, 2015, 8:17 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Jalen Brunson, Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, Tyler Dorsey and Terrance Ferguson were included in the top plays.

  4. Trae Jefferson commits to Texas Southern

    Jul 7, 2015, 6:52 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Mike Davis has one of the most entertaining players joining the program.

  5. Re-ranking Recruiting Classes: Who are the 25 best players from the Class of 2010?

    Jul 7, 2015, 4:21 PM EDT

    Kyrie Irving (Getty Images) Getty Images

    The No. 1 player from 2010 turned into one of the biggest busts in recent memory.

  6. Coach K shares a story of the time he got a picture with Beyonce

    Jul 7, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    Twitter Twitter

    See, he’s just a creepy fanboy like the rest of us!

  7. Rematch of the 2000 national title game scheduled for 2015

    Jul 7, 2015, 12:18 PM EDT

    izzo Getty Images

    Michigan State will be hosting Florida, with a return game in Gainesville in two years.

  8. Highlights of Kansas blowing out Chile in the World University Games

    Jul 7, 2015, 11:16 AM EDT

    billself Getty Images

    The Jayhawks … err, Americans … are now 3-0 in the event.

  9. Four-star Class of 2016 point guard decommits from Oklahoma

    Jul 6, 2015, 10:47 PM EDT

    payton-pritchard-2412-xl-e1405347706789

    Four-star point guard Payton Pritchard is going to explore his options heading into the July live evaluation period.

  10. Northwestern adds four-star Class of 2016 center to recruiting class

    Jul 6, 2015, 10:25 PM EDT

    barret benson

    Northwestern continues to get good local pick-ups in the 2016 class.

  11. La Salle guard will transfer and become immediately eligible

    Jul 6, 2015, 8:30 PM EDT

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Khalid Lewis #23 of the La Salle Explorers looks on against the Massachusetts Minutemen during the Second Round of the Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament at Barclays Center on March 12, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. La Salle Explorers defeated the Massachusetts Minutemen 76-69  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) Getty Images

    La Salle is losing an experienced guard to transfer.

  12. Report: Tennessee incoming freshman point guard still not enrolled

    Jul 6, 2015, 7:15 PM EDT

    lamonte turner

    One of Tennessee’s only options at point guard is enrolling closer to the school year.

  13. Four-star Class of 2016 shooting guard favors 10 schools

    Jul 6, 2015, 5:45 PM EDT

    (Nike) (Nike)

    One of the better shooting guards in the country is focused on 10 schools.

  14. Michigan basketball will change to Jordan Brand from adidas as school announces new Nike deal

    Jul 6, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Michigan is going with the Jumpman under its new apparel agreement.

  15. Syracuse, not Kentucky, leads the nation in average attendance

    Jul 6, 2015, 2:48 PM EDT

    Jim Boeheim AP

    Kentucky had led the nation in average attendance for eight straight years.

  16. Florida State lands commitment from five-star 2016 prospect

    Jul 6, 2015, 12:53 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 12.52.11 PM

    Jonathan Isaac is loaded with potential.