The good news is Ohio State is going to be in the NCAA Tournament next week. The other good news is that the worst of the bleeding seems to have stopped, and if the Buckeyes can avoid a horrible loss against Purdue, they still have a good shot at a decent seed. The bad news, of course, is that the team that will play in the tournament is still the team that we've watched over the last few months, meaning they could make the Elite Eight, or get upset in the second round, if they decide to say, go 11 minutes without scoring or something not out of the question like that.
As of right now, Ohio State sits as a composite five seed. Most of the mainstream bracket prognosticators seem to have the Buckeyes as either a five or a six. If they choke against Purdue, Ohio State probably falls into the seven/eight range. If they win the entire Big Ten Tournament tournament, they could well creep into a four spot.
For now, let's split the difference, and assume that the Buckeyes beat Purdue, but don't advance to the Big Ten Tournament finals. If they're in the five/six seed range, who are some potential opponents?
We won't know for sure until Sunday, of course, but we have a ballpark idea for the kinds of squads who are likely to be in the 11/12 range in the bracket. Who should Ohio State fans be rooting to face, and who might be an abject disaster for the Buckeyes? Let's take a look:
Xavier (20-11), Big East
Best Win: 75-69 over Creighton
Worst Loss: 84-78 to USC
Best Player: Probably 6'3 sophomore guard Semaj Christon, who averages 17 ppg (and 4.1 assists), while shooting 40% from three
Panic Level: HIGH PANIC. Not only has Xavier beaten some quality teams (they also beat Cincinnati), AND you've got the instate factor, AND, memories of THIS GAME will flash again and again and again. Sure, we won, but were you dead after that game? I was very much dead.
St Joseph's (21-9), Atlantic-10
Best Win: 73-68 over UMass
Worst Loss: 77-69 at Temple
Best Player: Overall, it might be Ronald Roberts Jr, who is 2nd on the team in scoring (14.6 ppg) and rebounding (7.2), while averaging over a block per game.
Panic Level: MODERATE PANIC. The Hawks have some size that could cause the Buckeyes a little trouble, but they would probably struggle to score against Ohio State.
Dayton (22-9), Atlantic-10
Best Win: 86-79 over UMass
Worst Loss: 79-76 against USC
Best Player: FORMER BUCKEYE Jordan Sibert leads the team in scoring at 12.6 ppg, while shooting over 44% from three. Ohio State probably could use a player like that this year, no? SIGH
Panic Level: HEALTHY AMOUNT OF PANIC. Dayton sucked for a while, but they're won nine of their last ten, beating several solid A-10 schools, like GW and Saint Louis. If they make the Madness, I wouldn't want to play them.
BYU (23-11), WCC
Best Win: 73-65 over Gonzaga
Worst Loss: 114-110 at Portland
Best Player: Tyler Haws is one of the best scorers in college basketball, at 23.4 a game, although he doesn't do it by burying a barrage of threes (only 3 attempts a game). He's great at attacking the basket and hitting jumpers.
Panic Level: EXISTENTIAL PANIC. BYU would actually be a very fun matchup for the Buckeyes, given that they prefer to play at a breakneck pace, and don't care too much about defense. I'm less worried about them than I might be against Dayton or Xavier, but you always run the risk of Haws dropping 38 on you. BYU probably has 20 turnovers in this hypothetical matchup though.
Tennessee (20-11), SEC
Kenpom: 13 (!!!)
Best Win: 87-52 over Virginia
Worst Loss: 68-65 to TAMU
Best Player: Jarnell Stokes averages a double double, (14.5 and 10.3), and more than a block per game. He's going to be a load down low for anybody.
Panic Level: VERY HIGH PANIC. Amir Williams just picked up his third foul just THINKING about having to guard Stokes. COUNTERPOINT: UTEP
Harvard (26-4), Ivy
Best Win: 76-64 over Green Bay
Worst Loss: 68-53 at Florida Atlantic
Best Player: Wesley Saunders does a little of everything (14 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.7 steals).
Panic Level: HEALTHY AMOUNT OF PANIC. Nothing about Harvard's resume really jumps out at you, other than a decent Kenpom rating, and Ohio State should be able to handle them. But dammit, losing to an Ivy League team would be INSUFFERABLE
Arkansas (21-10), SEC
Best Win: 71-67 at Kentucky
Worst Loss: 69-53 at TAMU
Best Player: Rashad Madden? He brings in 12.7 ppg and 2.6 assists, while shooting 41% from three.
Panic Level: LOW – Well, as low as any Ohio State game could be, so in actuality, VERY HIGH
Stanford (19-11), Pac-12
Best Win: 83-74 over UCLA
Worst Loss: 64-60 at Washington
Best Player: Chasson Randle can certainly score (18.8 a game), and is a legit three point threat
Panic Level: NOT VERY HIGH, although they're probably better than Arkansas.
Southern Miss (26-5), Conference USA
Best Win: 70-69 at North Dakota State
Worst Loss: 84-60 at UAB
Best Player: 6-5 swingman Michael Craig leads the team in scoring (11 a game) and rebounding (7.2)
Panic Level: MINIMAL, so naturally, Ohio State will play them and lose by 12.
We'll update this again before Selection Sunday, once we get more info from conference tournaments.
Who would you like Ohio State to play in their opening NCAA Tournament game?