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Men’s soccer team snags at-large bid in NCAA Tournament

The Ohio State’s men’s soccer team learned what path it would have to take to win a Division I National Championship on Monday evening.

The Buckeyes (10-5-3) earned the last available seeded berth, No. 16, meaning they will receive a first-round bye in at least one home game. They will host the winner of St. Peter’s (13-5-1) and Providence (12-5-3) at noon on Sunday.

“To be in the NCAA Tournament four years consecutively is an accomplishment,” senior midfielder Sam Scales said. “It’s something special, and looking forward, I think we have a good draw. … The bracket panned out how we wanted it to.”

Of the 48 teams selected for the tournament, 32 receive at-large bids and play in the first round. The winners of the first round move on to play the seeded teams on the road.

“I’m pleased that the committee saw fit to give us one of the top 16 seeds,” coach John Bluem said. “It’s a little bit of an honor to be seeded in this tournament. There are so many great teams out there and it gives us the advantage of getting to play the first game of the tournament at home.”

OSU finished the 2010 regular season unbeaten at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium with a record of 7-0-1. The team finished 1-3-1 on the road.

Louisville holds the tournament’s top seed, and Akron is No. 3.

If the Buckeyes were to win their first game of the tournament, they would likely play Louisville on the road in the third round — barring an upset of the nation’s top team.

“I was sitting there saying, ‘I guarantee we’re going to play Louisville,’ because it always seems to be a regional affair where we either meet Akron or Louisville,” said Scales, a native of Louisville. “It’s sort of bittersweet.”

Bluem said the team has been provided “a little comfort,” as the Buckeyes have already played Louisville on the road this season.

OSU is coming off a disappointing performance in the Big Ten tournament, unable to get out of the first round after losing to Wisconsin 5-4 in penalty kicks.

“We’ve got a long break here,” Bluem said. “The trick will be to keep the guys sharp and hungry.”

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