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Ohio State basketball still holding out hope for a chance at the NCAA tournament

Though it’s a very slim chance, the Buckeyes still believe they can make a run to close out the season.

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Maryland Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

“There is no margin for error. We have to go into these last five games like there is no margin. Hopefully we do that and put ourselves in a good position for the Big Ten Tournament, because I really do think we can make some noise there and hopefully win that tournament, then we'll see how it goes.”

- Jae’Sean Tate via Bill Landis,

The season hasn’t gone quite like Ohio State had hoped, and the Buckeyes are certainly on the outside looking in right now when it comes to the NCAA tournament. With five games remaining the schedule, Ohio State would have to win out to even give themselves a chance. And their work would only start there, as the Buckeyes would have to likely make a deep run in the Big Ten tournament to have a legitimate shot at making the Big Dance. Right now, the most likely scenario is that Thad Matta’s team will end up in the NIT for a second straight season. Currently, a couple of outlets have the Buckeyes slotted as a three-seed and a four-seed depending on which you take a look at.

The five game stretch starts on Tuesday night when Ohio State takes on Michigan State at 9 p.m. It seems unlikely that the Buckeyes would be able to pull it off, considering their record against ranked Big Ten teams this season, and that’s the majority of teams they’d be facing in the Big Ten tournament. Still, crazier things have happened in February and March with college basketball, so the Buckeyes will have to do their best to create some magic starting against the Spartans.

“Must-win game: Oct. 28 vs. Penn State. Trap game: Nov. 4 at Iowa”

- Austin Ward, ESPN

There’s still quite a while before football season is upon us, but that hasn’t stopped the beginning of breaking down Ohio State’s schedule for the 2017 season. Austin Ward of ESPN took a look at the schedule and determined the Buckeyes’ biggest must-win game for the upcoming season was against Penn State, when they host the Nittany Lions. After remarkably dropping a game on the road this past season, the Buckeyes will surely look to avenge their loss to the reigning Big Ten champions. The James Franklin-led squad also return a large majority of the team they had last season so it will no doubt be a top tier game that weekend should both have good records when they meet.

The proverbial trap game of the season for Ohio State seems to be when they travel to Iowa to take on the Hawkeyes. It’s been a while since the Buckeyes faced Kirk Ferentz’s team and whenever it’s on the road at Kinnick stadium, it’s almost always a tightly contested game regardless of the skill level between the teams. It also marks the first time that Urban Meyer will make the trip on the road against Iowa with the Buckeyes.

“To reach the 2,000 yard mark, he’ll need to rush for an average of 125 yards a game. He has the skill to make the big runs and he will certainly have plenty of opportunities. The Cowboys offense had the most rushing attempts of any team in the league last season and they will continue to be a run-heavy team. Don’t expect that to change any time soon.”

- DannyPhantom, Blogging The Boys

Former Ohio State star running back Ezekiel Elliott made quite a name for himself in his rookie season in the NFL. Playing with the Dallas Cowboys, the sensational running back shattered rookie records wherever he went, rushing for 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns. Those marks were good enough for the fifth-most rushing yards by any Cowboy ever and the fourth-most in scores by a running back. Now heading into his second season, his mother has a new goal for her son: rush for 2,000 yards.

At first glance you might raise your eyebrows a bit, but when you dig a little deeper, it’s not impossible to imagine a season like that for Elliott. Rushing behind one of the most talented offensive lines in the NFL, in addition to his natural abilities as a running back, and it’s a recipe for success. Considering his partner in crime, Dak Prescott at quarterback, the Cowboys will be a dangerously balanced team and that should provide Elliott with even more opportunities.