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Ohio State men’s hockey is looking for their first NCAA Tournament win since 1998

The Buckeyes do it up with Minnesota-Duluth tonight.

Ohio State athletics

“With this being the first NCAA tournament appearance for the players on his roster, and possibly the final game in an OSU jersey for his seven seniors, Rohlik said his biggest message to his team this week has been to appreciate what they have accomplished this season,”

Nick Clarkson on OSU hockey, The Lantern

While the basketball team missed their NCAA Tournament, the OSU hockey team found a way into theirs. For the first time in eight years, the Buckeyes are in the NCAA hockey tournament. On Friday, the Scarlet and Gray travel to Fargo, N.D. to face-off against Minnesota-Duluth in the first round.

For Ohio State, it’s their seventh trip to the NCAA Tournament. In their first trip in 1998, the Buckeyes advanced all the way to the Frozen Four. However, in their five subsequent bids, OSU has lost in the first round — overall, the Bucks carry a 2-6 record in the NCAA Tournament.

The Buckeyes look to snap the postseason losing streak behind, you guessed it, scoring goals. This season, the Bucks are averaging 3.97 goals per game. That scoring output is good for second in the NCAA. On the defensive end, OSU is giving up a little under 3 goals per game (2.89).

Going on the power play is Ohio State’s bread and butter. This season, the Bucks rank No. 1 in power play conversion, coming in at 32.5 percent (49-for-151). Additionally, OSU is averaging four power play opportunities per game. Getting a handful of extra man advantages might be the difference maker against Duluth, the top team in the Buckeyes part of the bracket.

If you want to catch the Buckeyes in action, you can listen at 6:30 p.m. ET on OhioStateBuckeyes.com.

“Funderburk isn't No. 1 on this list because of his expected scoring output. He's here because of his upside,”

— Bill Landis on Derek Funderburk and the way OSU can make a turnaround, cleveland.com

As the NCAA Tournament carries on, the conversation starts on how the Ohio State Buckeyes can get back to the big dance. Cleveland.com’s Bill Landis broke down the five most important Buckeyes that can lead the Scarlet and Gray on a turnaround.

There was a surprise in the list: the No. 1 person on Landis’ list is Derek Funderbunk. Funderbunk redshirted this past season, however, according to Landis, his upside that he brings to the table makes him the most important Buckeye on the quest for a turnaround season

Behind Funderbunk on the list are the usual stars on the squad. Keita Bates-Diop drops in at the No. 2 position -- and Landis says Bates-Diop has the potential to be the best player on the team when healthy. JaQuan Lyle and Kam Williams fill in at the No. 3 and No. 4 spots, respectively.

The No. 5 spot belongs to incoming Buckeye, and Ohio’s Mr. Basketball, Kaleb Wesson. If Trevor Thompson actually goes through with the NBA Draft, then Wesson will be one the new kids on the block expected to make an impact.

Next season’s squad may be a make-or-break one for Thad Matta. This past year, injuries to Bates-Diop and Lyle hampered OSU’s winning ways; combine that with the mass exodus before the season, and the recipe for a slumping season was complete.

If these Buckeyes can make an impact next season, then expect OSU to be back in the mix for an NCAA Tournament bid.

“Cardale Jones, now with Buffalo, was one of several former Buckeyes who watched pro day. He believes both Wilson and Smith can make it,”

— Bill Rabinowitz, The Columbus Dispatch

Basketball is still happening, hockey is still happening, but football is on, as Ross Geller would say, a break.

That break is starting to come to an end, as Ohio State’s Pro Day came and passed, and the hunt for the NFL begins. After the Pro Day, Bill Rabinowitz wrote about how the event allowed Corey Smith and Dontre Wilson to showcase their talents to scouts.

With all the NFL teams in attendance (as well as a handful of coaches), Pro Day was one big skills interview for Smith and Wilson. Doing the best they could at Pro Day was even more important, considering that they didn’t get invited to the NFL combine.

If there was a fan to see Smith and Wilson succeed, Rabinowitz found one in former Buckeye national champion Cardale Jones. Jones, who stepped up as quarterback in the 2014 postseason, talked to Rabinowitz on what he saw in Smith and Wilson.

Jones said it takes a “different kind of athlete” to go through the program that Ohio State has put together. Additionally, Jones went on to say that when healthy, both are talented individuals.

Injuries in the past haven’t hampered Buckeyes in the NFL Draft. Braxton Miller was banged up throughout his career, and got drafted to the Houston Texans. Here’s hoping that Wilson and Smith hear their names being called at the Draft.

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