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Pre-Big Ten Tournament bracket update for Ohio State

Where do the Buckeyes slot into the NCAA Tournament according to the game’s expert bracketologists?

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Ohio State Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

It’s that time of the season where fans google “Ohio State bracketology” or “Ohio State bracket prediction” every day leading up to the NCAA Tournament, trying to keep tabs on who the Buckeyes might see in the first round of the tournament and beyond. It’s especially enticing to check for updates this season, as the Buckeyes have an opportunity to earn their highest NCAA Tournament seed in almost a decade, with most outlets placing them on the 2-line heading into the Big Ten Tournament this weekend.

The last time Ohio State earned that high of a seed was the 2012-2013 season, when the DeShaun Thomas and Aaron Craft-led Buckeyes went 26-7 en route to a 2-seed in the west region. That season, they beat Iona, Iowa State, and Arizona before losing to 9-seed Wichita State in the Elite Eight. A bummer, but still one of the most successful Buckeye basketball seasons of the past decade.

This year’s Ohio State team will enter the B1G tourney with an 18-8 record, but have benefitted greatly from playing in a rough and rowdy Big Ten Conference, boasting wins over top-five teams Illinois and Iowa as well as road victories over tournament teams Rutgers, Maryland, and Wisconsin. They also own a neutral site win over another tournament team, UCLA.

Additionally, the Buckeyes benefit from a clear divide between the two elite teams in the nation and the rest of the field. Gonzaga and Baylor appear to be in their own class, but from there it’s a trail mix of great teams that may not be quite on the same level as the top two. Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio State, Alabama, Houston, Arkansas, and West Virginia have all had great seasons, but also have had moments of weakness. Comparatively, Gonzaga has not had a single moment of weakness, and Baylor has lost just one game this season — and that was coming off a three-week COVID pause.

So with that said, let’s go through a quick rundown of where some of the bigger media outlets and more reliable bracket experts currently slot the Buckeyes, as of today.


ESPN

Joe Lunardi and the boys over at the Worldwide Leader in Sports have Ohio State as a 2-seed right now, matched up with 15-seed Southern Utah. The Thunderbirds — aside from having one of the coolest names in college sports — went 19-3 this year and won the Big Sky regular season championship, but will need to win their conference tournament as well to make the big dance. So, this matchup is written in pencil, not pen.

From there, Ohio State would face the winner of 7-seed Wisconsin and 10-seed UCLA, both of whom they beat during the regular season. The 1-seed in Ohio State’s region would be Gonzaga, if this prediction pans out.

CBS Sports

CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm has Ohio State as a 2-seed as well, but he has them matched up with the 15-seed Northeastern Huskies out of the Colonial Athletic Association. Northeastern is 10-9 overall this season, but went 8-2 in conference play to earn a share of their regular-season conference championship. The second-seeded Huskies actually lost to 6-seed Drexel in the CAA tournament semifinals last night, so their NCAA tournament hopes are now dead. At some point today, Palm will replace Northeastern with someone else.

Should the Buckeyes beat whoever is thrust into that 15 spot, CBS has them facing the winner of 7-seed Florida and 10-seed Loyola Chicago. I think Ohio State beats Florida without too much trouble, but the Ramblers of Loyola Chicago have the No. 1 adjusted defense in college basketball according to KenPom. That would be a great battle going up against Ohio State’s fourth-ranked offense. The 1-seed in this hypothetical region are the Baylor Bears.

FOX Sports

FOX also has Ohio State as a 2-seed (I’m sensing a trend here), facing the Ohio Valley Conference Champion Morehead State Eagles. Morehead State was the regular season runner up in the OVC with a 17-3 record, but knocked off top-seeded Belmont in the conference championship game to punch their ticket to the big dance.

If they sound familiar to you, they should. Ohio State ripped Morehead State 77-44 back in December, although both teams are playing at a much higher level now than they were three months ago. This would be an ideal matchup for the Buckeyes, as they already have film playing this exact same team. Should they win that first game, FOX has them facing the winner of 7-seed Connecticut and 10-seed Wichita State. Both of those teams would be a tough matchup for Ohio State, although they would be favored to beat both.

FOX also has Ohio State in Gonzaga’s region, should they advance far enough to face the 1-seed.

1-3-1 Sports

1-3-1 Sports is one of the most accurate bracket websites according to the Bracket Matrix, which measures the accuracy of brackets each year as well as on a rolling basis. 1-3-1 currently has Ohio State as the third-highest 2-seed, which would pit them against the second-highest 15-seed. In this scenario, that team is the Southern Utah Thunderbirds out of the Big Sky conference. Again, their placement is completely dependent on if they win their conference tournament this week, as stated above.

Should they win that game, they would then face the winner of 7-seed Clemson and 10-seed VCU. To me, this is the best possible path for the Buckeyes to crack the Sweet 16. 1-3-1 also has Ohio State in Gonzaga’s region.

Bracketville

Bracketville is another top-notch NCAA Tournament site, and they too have Ohio State as a 2-seed in Gonzaga’s region (I feel like the Buckeyes play Gonzaga every year one way or another, they might as well get the monkey off their back this season and make history). They have Ohio State facing 15-seed Grand Canyon, the regular season champion and No. 1 overall seed in the WAC tournament. The ‘Lopes ripped off a nine-game winning streak at one point this season, but more recently have gone 2-3 in their last five games. The WAC is a one-bid league, so if GCU doesn’t win their conference tournament, they will not be in this slot.

If Ohio State was to beat Grand Canyon, they’d move on to face the winner of 7-seed Missouri and 10-seed Louisville. This is another friendly scenario, as Missouri is a guard-oriented team that Ohio State would match up well against.