With Wisconsin losing to Penn State in overtime in the Big Ten Tournament championship game last night, Ohio State had their NCAA Tournament hopes renewed and today, during the selection show on ESPNU, the Buckeyes had their dreams come true as they officially received an at large bid to the tourney.
The Buckeyes will play No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth in Fargo, North Dakota on Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET. It’s OSU’s first NCAA Tournament appearance in hockey since 2009. They came within a whisker of making it three years ago, losing to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament title game, but Wisconsin returned the favor this year and lost in a similar fashion, giving Ohio State their opening.
OSU effectively controlled their own destiny during the Big Ten Tournament, just needing to eliminate Wisconsin and prevent them from winning the conference tournament and receiving an autobid. But the Buckeyes stumbled and fell 2-1 on Friday, giving UW an opening.
It seemed likely that UW would triumph over Penn State, who were playing their third game in three days, with Friday’s win over Minnesota coming in double overtime. Things did not look good for the Bucks. But somehow, Penn State rallied to clinch an NCAA appearance and beat UW in double overtime once again.
It was one of the more impressive postseason conference tournament runs you’ll see, and it ended up saving Ohio State’s season, letting them squeak in with what likely turned out to be the last at large bid.
But if you’re Ohio State, you take it no matter how you got it and just focus on beating Minnesota-Duluth. The team looked like it was putting things together down the stretch until stumbling against Wisconsin on Friday. And this team did win at No. 1 Denver earlier in the season. Anything can happen and it doesn’t matter how you get in as long as you get in.