It’s time to forget about the Ohio State basketball team’s four-game losing streak to close out the regular season. As far as we’re concerned, bracket szn marks a brand new slate, and the Buckeyes are 0-0 as they head into their opener of the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis on Thursday, in which they will face the winner of Wednesday night’s game between Minnesota and Northwestern.
_________ will be cutting down the nets Sunday? pic.twitter.com/umsMb9qEoV— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) March 8, 2021
Almost every bracketologist has Ohio State as a 2-seed heading into the NCAA Tournament which starts next week, assuming they win at least one game in their conference tournament. Not to bring up the four-game losing streak that I said we were forgetting about, but the Buckeyes not only need to win on Thursday to lock down the 2-seed, they also need to get their momentum back after a rough four-game stretch against some of the nation’s best.
During a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Chris Holtmann said he’s not used to not knowing who his opponent will be in the conference tournament, and that preparing his team for both possible scenarios (Minnesota or Northwestern) will be “interesting.”
“What we’ve done is try to prepare for both as much as we can without overwhelming our guys with preparation for two opponents. So we’ll have a long night tonight after the game as coaches in terms of finalizing, putting the final touches on the game plan. So it’ll be a long night.”
Still, Holtmann said that his team is “in a good place” ahead of tournament play and that he’s ready for a win.
Chris Holtmann said he does not look at the losing streak as one where they played poorly in four straight games. He said he does want his team to feel the reward of a win, however.— Lantern Sports (@LanternSports) March 10, 2021
Holtmann discussed some of the challenges the Buckeyes have experienced so far, and while there aren’t any major issues that need addressing, he reiterated what he’s said pretty much all season: the defense needs to be better.
Chris Holtmann said the challenge is playing E.J. Liddell and Zed Key at the same time. He said it impacts the team defensively and thus has not happened often.— Lantern Sports (@LanternSports) March 10, 2021
Chris Holtmann said the team does not need wholesale changes, but needs to be better in defensive and offensive focus down the stretch.— Lantern Sports (@LanternSports) March 10, 2021
Holtmann said that Justice Sueing, who has been dealing with a groin injury, had a procedure done this week and has not practiced until today. He also gave updates on Kyle Young, who’s been dealing with leg soreness all season, and Musa Jallow.
Chris Holtmann said Ohio State forward Justice Sueing had a procedure and hasn’t been able to practice but he’ll be back today. He said Kyle Young is feeling good right now and Musa Jallow is getting better with his ankle.— Patrick Murphy (@_Pat_Murphy) March 10, 2021
Holtmann said he believes his team is ready for the postseason, specifically highlighting Meechie Johnson Jr. and how he’s been preparing.
Chris Holtmann said Meechie Johnson Jr. has a great approach in practice. He said that he has seen in practice and in games that Johnson is ready for postseason action.— Lantern Sports (@LanternSports) March 10, 2021
“I’m really pleased with where he’s at.”
And as far as how Ohio State ended their regular season? Holtmann isn’t concerned. So you shouldn’t be either.
“I don’t look at this stretch and say ‘Wow, we’ve had four games where we have played really, really poorly.’ That’s not been the case. I think if that was the case, I’d be much more concerned. I think our guys would be much more concerned.”
You can watch Holtmann’s entire interview here.