Ohio State’s two-year hiatus from the NCAA Tournament is now officially over as the Buckeyes have earned a No. 5 seed in the West Region of the Big Dance. They will begin play in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday, March 14 in Boise, Idaho, against the No. 12 South Dakota State. The game is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on TNT.
The Jackrabbits come into the tournament with a 28-6 record, and went 13-1 in the Summit League. They won the conference’s tournament, Western Illinois, North Dakota State, and South Dakota.
Also in the Buckeyes’ region will be No. 1 Xavier, No. 2 North Carolina, and No. 3 Michigan. Sitting in the region’s No. 4 spot is Gonzaga. Should both teams win their round of 64 game, that would set up a rematch of their November PK80 contest, in which the Zags handily beat the Buckeyes, 86-59.
In new head coach Chris Holtmann’s first season at the helm, the Ohio State Buckeyes finished with a surprisingly strong 24-8 record, including a 15-3 mark in the Big Ten. While the team sputtered down the stretch of this season’s oddly condensed conference slate, they opened league play with nine-straight wins.
Though the team enters the Big Dance having lost three of its final five games, with nearly two weeks off between their Big Ten Tournament exit and their Round of 64 game, the hope is that the Buckeyes will be fresh and focused when they next take to the court.
Despite earning Big Ten Player of the Year honors, Keita Bates-Diop has been inconsistent down the stretch, especially when compared to his early season dominance. However, since the team comes into the tournament having played only one game since Feb. 23, if he is able to find his legs and production, it could mark an exciting postseason run for the Buckeyes.
Holtmann, the B1G Coach of the Year, will likely be relying on the veteran leadership of KBD, Jae’Sean Tate, Kam Williams, and Andrew Dakich; Dakich is the only contributing players on the team with NCAA Tournament experience. For C.J. Jackson, Kaleb Wesson, Andre Wesson, Micah Potter, and the rest of the Buckeye bench, the tournament will be uncharted territory.
Joining the Buckeyes in the Big Dance will be conference comrades, No. 3 Michigan, No. 3 Michigan State, and No. 2 Purdue.
Land-Grant Holy Land will be your one-stop shop for all your Buckeye tournament news, recaps, and analysis throughout the remained of the postseason.