clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ohio State basketball could make the NCAA Tournament with a losing conference record

Sometimes playing in a tough conference can be an advantage.

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

“In its final four games, Ohio State will get three chances to snap what’s now become a rather noticeable streak. The Buckeyes haven’t won a game against an at-large-caliber opponent in close to three months.”

-John Gasaway, ESPN

It’s crunch time for Ohio State basketball. After such a promising non-conference schedule, the Buckeyes have fallen into a serious rut, winning just one of their last four and falling to 7-9 in Big Ten play - 6.5 games behind Michigan State. However, that sub-.500 conference record might not be as big a problem as it would seem, especially when it comes to earning a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

Part of that benefit of the doubt is due to the bubble watch itself, which is not the actual selection committee for the tournament. Part is because of just how strong Ohio State’s non-conference wins (and loss: Really, is anyone all that upset about Syracuse at this point?) look now. And part, perhaps the biggest part, is because of how strong the Big Ten as a whole is this season. With at least six teams looking like locks for the tournament, and two more on the bubble, it’s no wonder that the Buckeyes have fared poorly in comparison once they got to conference play.

Still, the Buckeyes will have to do more than rely on past successes and the reputation of those around them -- especially when it comes to actual tournament selection. Fortunately, Ohio State has the schedule to give them an edge in the final weeks of the regular season. Unfortunately, it is one which has not been favorable in the past. The Buckeyes face No. 21 Iowa, No. 15 Purdue, Northwestern and No. 22 Wisconsin in their final four games. Matchups against Purdue and Northwestern are on the road. Of these teams, the Buckeyes have beaten only Northwestern and they have yet to fae Wisconsin this season. It’s been awhile since Ohio State has beaten anyone on the level of a top-25 team, but even a single win out of three could do a lot to boost the team’s resume heading into tournament selection.

Ohio State wrestling secured an important win as the team prepares for the Big Ten Tournament in March. In its final dual match of the season, the sixth-ranked Buckeyes took down No. 9 Cornell 25-9 on the road Friday night..

Ohio State took the first seven matchups of the day to gain an insurmountable 25-point lead over Cornell. At 149-pounds, redshirt senior Micah Jordan scored the opening win for Ohio State 23-8 on a technical fall, giving the Buckeyes early bonus points. Four of the Buckeyes’ victories came over ranked opponents, highlighted in the 184-pound class as Ohio State’s Myles Martin, the top wrestler in his class, overcame No. 6 Max Dean in a 13-6 decision. With the win, the senior maintained his perfect, 17-0 record on the season. In the 197-pound class, redshirt junior Kollin Moore, No. 2 in his class, earned a 14-4 major decision over Cornell’s Ben Honis.

Ke-Shawn Hayes (157-pounds), Te’Shan Campbell (165-pounds), Ethan Smith (174-pounds) and Chase Singletary (285-pounds) also brought home winners on the day for the Buckeyes.

A number of other nationally-relevant, out-of-conference matches took place this weekend, including No. 3 Iowa falling at No. 2 Oklahoma State. These matchups are important for Ohio State to watch as well, since the Big Ten is the top conference in Division I wrestling, and the Buckeyes will be facing both in-conference and out-of-conference foes in the postseason in the coming weeks.

The Big Ten Tournament is scheduled to take place in Minnesota March 9-10, with the NCAA Wrestling Tournament following in Pittsburgh March 21-23. The Buckeyes enter the tournament with a 7-2 conference record, their only losses coming to No. 1 Penn State and No. 4 Michigan. Overall, Ohio State has amassed a 12-2 record on the year, staying keeping its perfect record in out-of-conference dual matches.

“Conference championship wins require depth in all event areas; and our coaching staff prepared these women to compete well across the event areas of sprints, throws, jumps, middle and distance events.”

-Karen Dennis, director of track and field and cross country, via The Ohio State University

It was a big weekend for winter sports at Ohio State! The men’s hockey team took home its first-ever Big Ten regular season championship. And the women’s indoor track and field team earned its own conference championship - its first since 2015. Making the championships even sweeter was the fact that both were earned in Ann Arbor.

The women’s team took home the gold in the Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships in over the weekend. With 112 team points, the Buckeyes were far and above the top team in the conference. Indiana was a distant second, coming in with 83 points. Iowa came in third with 80 points.

Highlighting the Buckeyes’ run were three individual titles from athletes who are among the top in the nation in their respective events. Senior thrower Sade Olatoye earned her second career gold medal in the shot put, completing a 17.88-meter throw. That distance, a school record, was the best in the country this season. She also took home her first indoor title in the weight throw with 24.07 meters. Olatoye earned first team All-Big Ten honors for her performance - a solid follow-up from being named 2017 Big Ten Indoor Field Athlete of the Year.

Sophomore Anavia Battle ran 22.8 seconds in the 200-meter dash, taking home the gold for the Buckeyes. That time was the best in program history, and tops in the NCAA. Battle also earned first team All-Big Ten honors. Finally, senior Julia Rizk brought home the bronze for her performance in the mile as well.

The men’s team, which earned its own indoor conference title last season, also had some strong performances, led by senior Nick Gray, who finished first in the 60-meter and 200-meter dash. With the performance, Gray earned the No. 2 seed in the upcoming NCAA Indoor Championships. Junior Frank Hayes earned a conference title in the 600-meter with a time of 1:17.24.

The NCAA Indoor Championships are scheduled for March 12.