Thursday is a big day for the Ohio State Buckeyes men’s basketball team. Playing Indiana in the Second Round of the Big Ten Tournament, both the Bucks and Hoosiers are teetering on the edge of making—and missing—the Big Dance.
With conference tournament week in full effect, the tournament picture is becoming clearer and clearer with each passing game. Let’s take a look at what OSU could be looking at in the coming days, and who else is in the bubble that could help/hurt the Buckeyes’ chances of playing postseason basketball among the field of 68.
Going 8-12 amongst Big Ten foes, Ohio State claimed the No. 8 seed for the conference tourney. Games will take place at the United Center in Chicago. The Hoosiers also went 8-12 in conference play, but lost to the Buckeyes at Assembly Hall, 55-52, in February. However, IU has gone on a four-game winning streak to close out the regular season, while OSU is on a three-game skid.
Second Round Game | vs. (No. 9) Indiana [12:30 p.m. ET | BTN]
If Chris Holtmann’s squad can get past the Hoosiers, it’ll go along way in helping solidify their spot in the Big Dance. A win on Thursday would bring the Buckeyes back to the United Center on Friday for the Quarterfinals.
*Quarterfinal Game | vs. (No. 1) Michigan State [12:30 p.m. ET | BTN]
*if Ohio State defeats Indiana in Second Round
Since the bracket has a lot of unknowns—Nebraska/Wisconsin/Maryland will face the winner of the MSU-OSU/IU quarterfinal contest—we’ll update as the results become final.
What are the projections saying?
CBS Sports (Jerry Palm) — Updated Wednesday morning, Palm has OSU as the No. 11 seed facing defending national champions Villanova (No. 7) in the Midwest Region. With this seeding, the Bucks avoid playing in the First Four contests in Dayton.
USA Today (Scott Gleeson & Shelby Mast) — The Buckeyes are in, but by the skin of their teeth. The Gleeson/Mast projections have OSU at a No. 12 seed in the West Region, but they are involved in a “play-in” game at Dayton. The projected opponent, as of Wednesday morning, is Georgetown. Winner of Hoyas-Buckeyes goes to San Jose to face (No. 5) Mississippi State.
Bracketville — Bracketville also has Holtmann’s crew going to Dayton for a First Four game as a No. 12 seed. Instead of Georgetown, it’s Clemson. Whoever survives this game gets No. 5 Marquette in San Jose.
ESPN (Joe Lunardi) — The most drastic of the predictions. Lunardi, as of Wednesday midday, has Ohio State out. The Buckeyes are considered the first team out, and the Hoosiers are pegged as the second team out.
BracketMatrix — Thanks to Matt Brown pointing this out on Twitter, BracketMatrix aggregates numerous projections to come up with their own. According to a listing timestamp Wednesday morning, the Buckeyes are a No. 12 seed. While no pairings are brackets are discussed, it’s worth noting that Clemson is the highest aggregated 12 seed, and OSU is second.
There’s a handful of teams fighting for a few spots. Here are some bubble teams that could swipe a spot from the Buckeyes with a run in their respective conference tournament.
The biggest no brainer. Hoosiers-Buckeyes is a de facto elimination game. The winner, though, keeps their hopes on life support.
Things got wild today. NC State knocked off Clemson in the Second Round of the ACC Tournament. The Tigers will slide, while NC State, increases their stock. Both teams were on the bubble. NC State gets Virginia in the quarterfinals. A Wolfpack win will do wonders for their résumé.
On Wednesday, TCU’s stock will either go up or down depending on their First Round Big 12 Conference Tournament game against Oklahoma State. A win for the Horned Frogs and they’ll live another day—facing No. 1 seed Kansas State on Thursday.
Texas did enough to skip the First Round, but gets Kansas in the Second Round. A Longhorn win would be massive, as the Jayhawks are a shoe-in.
The absolute worst case scenario for Ohio State is for both TCU and Texas to win out. The soonest these teams would meet—in a potential matchup—is in the championship game.
[Thursday midday update: TCU defeated Oklahoma State, 73-70.]
The Big East teams residing on the bubble have a chance to pump up their résumé in the iconic Madison Square Garden. Both teams will take the court on Thursday in the quarterfinals.
No. 5 seed Creighton goes first against No. 4 Xavier. While Xavier isn’t in the tournament picture, Creighton absolutely is. Ohio State beat the Blue Jays early in the year, so if it comes down to head-to-head, OSU has the advantage.
No. 6 seed Georgetown is behind Creighton in the bubble, and needs a win over No. 3 seed Seton Hall. Unlike Xavier, Seton Hall is pegged as a No. 10 seed in the Big Dance. A Hoyas win is a necessity; they lose, and they are done.