The Buckeyes will start their march to the Final Four in Dayton when they take on Iona. Let's take a look at the other teams in the West Region that stand between Ohio State, and a trip to Atlanta for a second straight Final Four.
#1 Gonzaga (31-2)
Best Wins: 68-52 over Kansas State in Kansas City, 69-68 at Oklahoma State
Worst Loss: 85-74 against Illinois.
It's hard to argue that a team that went 31-2 in a multi-big league doesn't deserve a number 1 seed. The Bulldogs are 12th in the country in scoring at 77.6 ppg, went 5-0 against the Big 12, and are a fluky play against Butler from being 32-1. 7-foot junior Kelly Olynyk leads a formidable frontline at 17.5 ppg and 7.5 boards a game, but four other Bulldogs average at least 7 a game as well. Don't let the name on the front of the jersey fool you: the Bulldogs will be a tough out and should be a major threat to win this region.
#3 New Mexico (29-5)
Best Wins: 2 wins against Colorado State, 66-60 over UConn, 55-54 over Cincinnati
Worst Losses: 70-65 against South Dakota State, 55-34 against SDSU
You know what they say, New Mexico is the BESTitco (caution: no one actually says that). The Lobos have gotten some serious love for winning the regular season title of one of the toughest leagues this side of the Big Ten, the Mountain West. 6-4 Kendall Williams leads the Lobos at 13.5 points and 5 dimes a game, but New Mexico has a 7 footer to throw out of their own in Alex Kirk, who grabs 7.9 rebounds to go with his 11.9 ppg. New Mexico's size could be a mismatch for Ohio State should the two teams meet, but Harvard, Belmont and Arizona will have a lot to say about that.
#4 Kansas State (27-7)
Best Wins: 67-61 over Florida, 2 wins over Oklahoma State
Worst Losses: 73-67 at Iowa State
Kansas State's performances haven't exactly blown anybody away, but Bruce Weber's team has managed to avoid bad losses, and has put together a pretty solid resume, as long as you ignore the team's three losses to Kansas. Rodney McGruder leads the Wildcats in both scoring and rebounding at 15.7 and 5.4 a game, and may be one of the more interesting players in this region. Their lack of size may make it hard for them to have a deep march run, but Kansas State will play anybody tough.
#5 Wisconsin (23-11)
Best Wins: 2 wins over Indiana (on the road and a neutral site), 2 wins over Michigan
Worst Losses: 60-54 over UVA, 69-56 to Purdue.
What more can we say about the Badgers, coached by history's greatest monster Bo Ryan? Wisconsin will play slow, they will defend, and if they heat up from downtown, they could beat anybody in the country. If teams are able to push the pace or keep them from manufacturing easy baskets, they could score 41 and lose to a good 12 seed....which they happen to be facing. I'm not expecting a deep run from the Badgers, but I've been wrong on lots of stuff before.
#6 Arizona (25-7)
Best Wins: 65-64 over Florida, 69-50 over Miami, 68-67 over SDSU
Worst Losses: 89-78 over USC, 3 losses to UCLA, 77-69 to Cal.
The Wildcats are an intriguing lower seed. After big wins over Florida and Miami and by opening the season 14-0, Arizona garnered some significant poll love. But a somewhat lukewarm showing in an only so-so Pac 12 dropped them into a difficult draw. Mark Lyons is an intriguing guard at 14.8 ppg, but turns the ball over about as often as he sets up teammates. Swingman Solomon Hill will need to play very well for the Wildcats to make some noise. A Sweet 16 is not out of the question for Arizona by any means.
#7 Notre Dame (25-9)
Best Wins: 73-65 over Marquette, 104-101 (5 freakin' OTs) over Louisville, 64-50 over Kentucky
Worst Losses: 79-70 over Saint Joes, 67-63 at Saint Johns, beating Depaul but needing overtime to do it.
The Irish are one win away from setting up the matchup we all desperately wanted during football season. Notre Dame doesn't have exceptional athleticism, but their two man game with Jerian Grant (13.4 ppg, 5.6 ast) and Jack Cooley (13.1 ppg, 10.3 rpg) will give any team trouble, including Ohio State. The Irish are one of the best team's in the country at sharing the basketball, as they're 6th in the country in assists. It's hard to overlook some of their bad losses, and you have to wonder why with their talent, they didn't do a little better in Big East play. A winnable, but tough game for Ohio State should they match up.
#8 Pittsburgh (24-8)
Best Wins: 65-55 over Syracuse, 73-45 at Georgetown
Worst Losses: at Rutgers, 67-62
The good news is that Pitt didn't really have any terrible losses this year, and played multiple good teams tough. The bad news is that Pitt didn't beat very many good teams, and doesn't have the go-to scorer needed to take over a game late in March. Tray Woodall leads the Panthers in scoring at only 11.8 ppg but with 5.2 apg. Pittsburgh beating Gonzaga isn't impossible, but to me, losing to WSU seems a little more likely.
#9 Wichita State (26-8)
Best Wins: 67-64 over Creighton, 72-69 over Air Force,53-51 at VCU
Worst Losses: TWO losses to Evansville, 64-62 to Southern Illinois.
How did this team lose to Southern Illinois and TWICE to Evansville? Only The Shadow knows. What we do know is that the Shockers will crash the boards. Cleanthony Early (how's THAT for a name?) paces a formidable frontline at 13.6 ppg and 5.1 rpg, and he'll be flanked by Carl Hall 12.8 ppg and 7.2 rpg. The Shockers have the size and experience to pull a...wait for it...shocker this March. /puts on sunglasses. YEEEEEAAAAAAAHH.
#10 Iowa State (22-11)
Best Wins: 87-76 over Oklahoma State, 73-67 over Kansas State
Worst Losses: 56-51 at Texas Tech, 86-69 at Oklahoma
We know one thing about Iowa State: they can score the basketball. The Cyclones are 4th nationwide at 79.6 a game, and are in the top 25 in both rebounding and assists. What is less clear is if Iowa State can play any defense. Will Clyburn leads the team with 15.1 ppg and 7.1 boards a game. Iowa State is another squad that can present a very tough matchup for Ohio State in the second round, but it's hard to see them making a deeper run than that.
#11 Belmont (26-6)
Best Wins: 64-49 over MTSU, 76-49 over SDSU
Worst Losses: 80-69 at Tennessee State, 66-63 at UCF
Belmont is a mid-major with plenty of experience in giving major seeds heart attacks, and won't be afraid of anybody. They've played tournament caliber teams (VCU, Kansas), and have a guard capable of taking over in Ian Clark, who averages 18.1 ppg and shoots 46% from three. If Clark gets hot, look out for Belmont. Arizona is officially on upset watch.
#12 Ole Miss (26-8)
Best Wins: 66-63 over Florida, 64-49 over Missouri
Worst Losses: 87-85 OT to Indiana State, 69-67 at Texas A&M
If you haven't heard of Ole Miss's enigmatic best player, Marshall Henderson, you haven't been watching any non-B1G hoops this year. The unapologetic gunner and troll-master extraordinaire averages 20.0 ppg while his wingman, Murphy Holloway throws in 14.4. Ole Miss can pour it on with the best of them when they're hot, but they're prone to mental mistakes and don't always play great defense. If there is anybody who could beat the Wisconsin defense though, Henderson could.
#13-A Boise State (21-10)
Best Wins 83-70 at Creighton, 78-65 over Colorado State 69-65 over SDSU
Worst Losses: 76-55 to Utah, 79-55 at Nevada
This bid is a show of respect to the Mountain West, as the Broncos only had a 9-7 record in league play. The Broncos can score though, especially thanks to Anthony Drmic, a swingman who averages 17.3 ppg who can hit it from deep or get to the line. It isn't impossible to imagine BSU beating KSU, but it'll be tough.
#13-B La Salle (21-9)
Best Wins: at Villanova 77-74 OT, 54-53 Butler and 69-61 over VCU
Worst Losses: 81-74 to Central Connecticut State
The Explorers didn't have too many bad losses, and has two really dynamic athletes. Ramon Galloway does a little of everything, at 17 ppg, 4.6 rpg and 3.8 dimes. Tyreek Duren adds 15.00 ppg and 3.3 dimes. The two guards can be exceptionally dangerous if they heat up from outside or get to the line, they could beat almost anybody, even Kansas State, although they may get outmuscled down low due to lack of size.
#14 Harvard (19-9)
Best Wins: 67-62 over Cal, 75-54 over Princeton
Worst Losses: 78-63 at Columbia, 75-72 at Penn
The Crimson may another trip to the NCAAs, thanks to efficient basketball and strong defense, although the play of Wesley Saunders (16.5 ppg and 4.1 boards) certainly helps. Harvard's lack of athleticism or scoring will probably keep them from making a deep run, they should be good enough to make New Mexico sweat a little.
#15 Iona (20-13)
Best Wins: 81-78 OT over Georgia, 94-68 Wake Forest, 79-73 over Niagara
Worst Losses: 98-92 to Quinnipiac, 64-62 at Saint Peters, 66-64 at Fairfield
The Gaels love to get up and down the floor, as they're second in the country in scoring at 80.7 ppg. They're paced by one of the top scorers in the country, Lamont Jones, at 23 ppg. Iona hasn't faced a team with anywhere near the defensive ability of Ohio State, and don't have anybody who can slow down Sam Thompson or Deshaun Thomas. Iona could make this really interesting if they're able to force OSU to play at their pace, but the Buckeyes should be able to pull away in the 2nd half.
#16 Southern (23-9)
Best Wins: 53-51 at Texas A&M
Worst Losses: 61-57 at Alcorn State, 59-55 at North Carolina Central
Doesn't look like the first 16/1 upset will happen in this pod. Southern doesn't have the size needed to tangle with Gonzaga, although 6-6 Malcolm Miller is a nice player, averaging 15.8ppg and 6 boards. Southern would have to play out of their minds to keep their game in single digits.