"Most definitely. Basically everybody on our defense is an NFL prospect. You could take the whole Ohio State defense, put them on an NFL team and you could win a Super Bowl like that, for sure."
- Cornerback Eli Apple via Doug Lesmerises, Cleveland.com
The first round of April's NFL Draft could be littered with Ohio State defenders, but would it be possible for a team to be successful if they kept together all 11 starters from the 2015 Buckeye defense? The answer might not be as far-fetched as it first might seem. Not only do players like Joey Bosa, Darron Lee, and Eli Apple seemed destined to be picked in the first round of the draft, but last year's leading tackler Raekwon McMillan seems likely to be a first round pick when he decides to head to the NFL. Vonn Bell, Joshua Perry, and Adolphus Washington figure to be the next members of the Buckeye defense to come of the board in late April.
The 2015 Ohio State defense will likely have many similarities in terms of draft position to the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos. The defense of the Broncos has four players who were drafted in the first round, which is likely what the 2015 Ohio State defense will have at the very least. Of course predicting how the 2015 Ohio State defense would do compared to Denver's defense isn't an exact science since the Broncos players possess different levels of experience, but nobody would debate the Buckeyes would rival them in terms of talent. Even though a team would never be able to acquire all 11 starters from the 2015 Ohio State defense, it definitely would be a good idea to try and amass as many of the 2015 Buckeyes on their defense as possible.
"Ohio State's schedule was a preseason punchline among rival fans last season, but that shouldn't be the case anymore. A Buckeyes team that has to replace more starters than anyone else in the country has to face a stronger non-conference slate and an improved cast of foes in the Big Ten this year."
- Justin Ferguson, Bleacher Report
If Ohio State has designs on making their second College Football Playoff, they'll have to navigate a very tough schedule. The Buckeyes will be tested right out of the gate, as a defense that has to replace a number of starters will be take on Bowling Green and Tulsa, who both had top-15 offenses last season, in their first two games of the season. Things don't get any easier for the Buckeyes with their first road game of the season, when they travel down to Norman to take on a Oklahoma team that made the College Football Playoff last season.
If Ohio State is able to make it through their non-conference portion of the schedule unscathed, they'll get a bit of a breather when they return to Columbus to take on Rutgers and Indiana to open up Big Ten play. The respite for the Buckeyes will be short lived though, with road games against Wisconsin and Penn State awaiting them next. Add in a late-season trip to East Lansing before returning home for their regular season finale against Michigan, and nobody is going to be knocking the Buckeyes for a weak schedule this season. The combined 2015 record of Ohio State's 2016 opponents is 95-61, which means a Buckeye team that is replacing a lot of starters can't come out of the gates sluggish. The bright side is that if Ohio State is able to rack up wins in 2016, it'll be hard for the committee to keep them out of the College Football Playoff.
"There is a lot of work to do and a very short period of time to do it, but the converse of that is I think a lot of teams on the bubble would love a chance of getting to play a team like Michigan State."
- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN.com via Adam Jardy, The Columbus Dispatch
With Selection Sunday just over a week away, Ohio State's hopes of earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament are slim, but they aren't non-existent. The Buckeyes can strength their case on Saturday if they are able to find a way to take down Michigan State in East Lansing. It may be tough to imagine seeing Ohio State take down the Spartans, especially after Michigan State beat the Buckeyes 81-62 in Columbus just over a week ago. The Spartans are playing their best basketball of the season, with all of their wins in their five-game winning streak coming by double-digits.
While an upset of Michigan State would help, more work will likely need to be done if Ohio State wants to go dancing this year. According to Joe Lunardi on Tuesday, no more than 24 teams are competing for nine at-large bids, so the Buckeyes will need a couple more wins next week in the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis. Sunday's win over Iowa helped Ohio State's case, but with early season losses to Louisiana Tech, UT-Arlington, and Memphis, it will still be an uphill climb for the Buckeyes. At least Ohio State still has a chance of making the NCAA Tournament, now they have to go and state their case that they belong in the NCAA Tournament.
"We have a great opportunity heading to Indianapolis. It's going to be a competitive tournament. We had a tough last week, but we control our destiny, and I think we can beat anybody that we are going to play if we have the right mindset and we really compete to win."
- Ohio State women's basketball coach Kevin McGuff via Nathan Rubenstein, The Lantern
Even though the regular season didn't end quite as well as they were hoping it would, the Ohio State women's basketball team is optimistic heading into the Big Ten Tournament this weekend in Indianapolis. After falling in overtime to Minnesota on Wednesday night, and in triple overtime to Michigan State on Sunday, Ohio State heads into the Big Tournament as the second seed. The Buckeyes will take the court tomorrow night against the winner of tonight's game between Rutgers and Nebraska.
Earlier this week, a few members of the Ohio State basketball team were honored when the Big Ten announced their all-conference teams. Kelsey Mitchell and Ameryst Alston were unanimous choices on the first-team, while Shayla Cooper and Alexa Hart were named as members of the second-team. Hart was also named to the All-Big Ten Defensive Team, after averaging 2.6 blocks per game this season for the Buckeyes. Even though the personal accolades are nice, the Buckeyes are focused on winning as a team. While a shot at earning a one-seed in the NCAA Tournament likely has fallen by the wayside, a strong performance by the Buckeyes in Indianapolis should solidify Ohio State's case to be a two-seed in the NCAA Tournament.
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