Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports

Buckeyes Tournament Outlook

This year’s Ohio State basketball team has had a very Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde quality to it. They started off the season with 15 straight wins before dropping four in a row and causing the fans to question how legitimate this team truly is. After two more home losses (including a mind-boggling loss to Penn State), it seems that Thad has righted the ship. The Buckeyes have won three in a row and have just three regular season games left.

Currently the Buckeyes are 5th in the Big Ten. While a regular season B1G title is out of reach, wins against Penn State, Indiana, and at home against Michigan State could help boost the Buckeyes to the #4 seed in the tournament (and the first round bye that goes with it).

Ohio State is without a doubt a defense first team this year. They are currently 6th in the country in scoring defense overall and top 30 in many of the key statistics (FG%, 3PT%, FTA, STL). In contrast, they are an abysmal 207th in the nation in scoring per game at just over 70 points per game. Anybody that has watched this team can see right away that they struggle to score over stretches of a game. If LaQuinton Ross and Lenzelle Smith Jr. aren’t hitting their shots, it is going to be a long night for the Buckeyes. Thankfully the defense is stout and Aaron Craft can still make things happen when the offense is stagnant.

According to Joe Lunardi’s most recent bracketology, Ohio State would be a 6-seed in the West Region, with a first round matchup against BYU. A game against BYU would be a great matchup of contrasting styles. BYU is 3rd in the nation in scoring and would certainly test the Buckeye’s defense and force the offense to be more efficient. A potential second round matchup with Virginia (a team that is currently flying well under the radar despite being 1st in the ACC) gives the Buckeyes a fairly difficult road just to get to the sweet 16.

However, Ohio State still has multiple chances to increase their tournament seeding over the next two weeks. Losing at Penn State or Indiana would be huge blows to the résumé (with no gain by beating them), but a win at home over Michigan State would certainly give the Buckeyes a boost. If the Buckeyes were able to win out and make a deep run in the B1G tournament they would certainly jump up to the 5 line and quite possibly a 4 seed if they make the B1G title game. The highest the Buckeyes could rise in my opinion would be to a 3 seed. It would require the Buckeyes to win the rest of their games and to look impressive while doing it. They have too many bad losses on the schedule to jump some of the top-tier teams this year.

It seems unlikely that the Buckeyes could run the table to finish off the year, but I expect them to get at least one more résumé boosting victory. It should be enough to get them to a 5 seed for the tournament and that is where I expect them to ultimately end up for March Madness.

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Tags: NCAA Tournament Ohio State Basketball

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