“One of the things I’m most interested in here is Ohio State’s conditioning. The Buckeyes will have played one game between Feb. 23 and when they tip against the Jackrabbits on March 15. That’s one game in 20 days.”
Whether it’s 40-50 days before a bowl game, byes in the NFL playoffs, or getting bounced in one game following a double-bye in your unusually early conference tournament before heading to the Big Dance, an age-old question in sports has always been the debate between whether a long layoff leads more to rest or rust for a team.
Well, the No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes will be another ideal case study when they finally get back to action in the NCAA Tournament’s Round of 64 tomorrow when they play the No. 12 South Dakota State Jackrabbits. That game will end a particularly odd stretch for the team, especially considering how fast and furious the Big Ten portion of the regular season was.
As Landis notes, OSU’s defeat at the hands of the Penn State Nittany Lions on March 2, is the only game that the team has played since Feb. 23. That’s a long time for any team between competitive contests. Many have speculated that the large number of off-days will allow the thinly-rostered Buckeyes to regain the energy that propelled them to nine-straight wins to open the conference season, before they appeared to tire out in February.
Despite the loss to PSU, the Buckeyes did look somewhat more energized in Madison Square Garden. The question will be if the extra 12+ days will enhance their reserves, or if it will dull the crispness that they played with in their one game in the Big Ten Tournament.
Interestingly enough, the Jackrabbits are also on a bit of a hiatus, as they won the Summit League Tournament back on March 6. For the sake of the Buckeyes and their fans, hopefully the break did provide OSU with more rest than rust. With two-time Summit League Player of the Year Mike Daum leading the way for SDSU, Keita Bates-Diop is going to need to be at his best to counteract the big man’s diverse scoring ability.
“Kelsey Mitchell is Ohio State’s and the Big Ten’s all-time scoring leader. She’s a three-time Big Ten Player of the Year, has won multiple All-American honors, and is one of ten semifinalists for the 2017-2018 Naismith Award... Maybe one day she’ll sit down, look at her resume, and think about what an impressive run she’s had.
If the OSU men’s team does survive the dreaded No. 5 v. No. 12 matchup tomorrow, they will play again on Saturday, as will the No. 3-seeded women’s team, who will take on the No. 14 George Washington Colonials at 1:30 p.m. ET in the hallowed halls of St. John Arena. If those two games somehow end up conflicting, obviously most fans will likely be tuning into the men’s game.
However, maybe set your DVR for the women’s game, because opportunities to see one of the greatest basketball players (male or female) in school history are dwindling, as Kelsey Mitchell prepares for her final six (at most) games wearing the scarlet and gray. With time running out, as Schmidt points out, practically the only thing that Mitchell hasn’t done in her illustrious career is make it to the Elite Eight.
If the NCAA’s third all-time leading scorer is finally able to get her team to the national quarterfinals, they will be playing for a chance to return home, and to play the Final Four in Columbus’ Nationwide Arena; a fact that is not lost on Mitchell.
“I don’t care who you are, if you’re not thinking about it, you’re crazy,” she said according to Schmidt. “But you just try to stay in the moment and try not to think too far ahead.”
If the Buckeyes are able to win their next four games to set up the possibility of winning the national title at “home,” that would be quite the feather in Mitchell’s already ornately decorated cap, and, hopefully you will be watching as well.
“Notre Dame’s Cale Morris was named Big Ten Player and Goaltender of the Year, while Ohio State’s Steve Rohlik was selected as the Coach of the Year. The Fighting Irish will host the Buckeyes in the championship game of the Big Ten Tournament at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on BTN.”
With all of the attention that the basketball teams have been drawing lately, not to mention football spring practices going on, it’s easy to overlook just how great both of Ohio State’s hockey teams have been this season. The women’s team will drop the puck against top-ranked Clarkson on Friday in the NCAA Frozen Four. The Buckeyes defeated No. 4 Boston College in the first round last week, and are playing for the chance face No. 2 Wisconsin or No. 3 Colgate on Sunday in Minneapolis, Minn.
On Saturday, the men’s team will face Notre Dame (yes, they’re in the B1G for hockey) in the conference championship game. In anticipation of the matchup, yesterday, the Big Ten released the conference’s postseason awards for men’s hockey.
Ohio State’s Steve Rohlik was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year for guiding his team to a 24-8-5 (14-8-2) record, while forward Tanner Laczynski was named to the All-Big Ten first team. He was joined by defenseman Sasha Larocque and goalie Sean Romeo on the second team. Forward Matthew Weis received an honorable mention, and goalie Tommy Nappier was named to the All-Freshman team. Senior forward Christian Lampasso was Ohio State’s Big Ten Sportsmanship Award honoree.
The Buckeyes and the Fighting Irish will face off in South Bend, Ind. on Saturday, March 17 at 8:00 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.
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