Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NCAA. Each week, we send out questions to the most plugged-in Ohio State Buckeyes fans, and fans across the country. Sign up here to join Reacts.
Following the horrifically painful, first-round loss for the Ohio State men’s basketball team in the NCAA Tournament, the college basketball season officially ended. There was no more basketball played the rest of March or April, Baylor did not win a national title by blowing out Gonzaga, that is all a figment of your imagination — a collective fever dream brought on by of COVID keeping us all teetering on the brink of sanity.
However, now that the page has been turned to the 2021-22 season, coaches are building rosters while players make decisions on where they want to play come fall. OSU’s Chris Holtmann has added a pair of intra-conference transfers in former Penn State guard Jamari Wheeler and former Butler and Indiana center Joey Brunk.
The Buckeyes are also waiting on decisions from Duane Washington Jr. and E.J. Liddell to learn if they will be returning to Columbus, or attempting to make it on the pro level. With all of those moves in mind, according to the most recent SB Nation Reacts survey, more than 85% of Ohio State fans believe that the Buckeye basketball team is headed in the right direction.
During the season, this number was much higher amongst Buckeye Nation as Holtmann’s squad climbed to as high as No. 4 in the AP Poll before going on a devastating losing streak towards the end of the regular season. However, some perspective is needed, I believe, when looking at the basketball team.
I know that there are a lot of fans out there that believe that Holtmann has hit his ceiling leading the Buckeyes, especially since they have yet to make it past the opening weekend of the Big Dance under his leadership. However, from my eye, the team has improved each year under Holtmann — the 2020-21 defensive issues notwithstanding.
Holtmann certainly needs to up the recruiting to get over the next big hump, but I think that there are positive signs in that department as the Buckeyes are now regularly being included in the final choices of some of the biggest recruits in the country. Of course, being a bridesmaid doesn’t do much on the court, but it does show how seriously up-and-coming prospects are looking at Holtmann’s program.
We will obviously need to see a breakthrough in that regard soon, but I don’t think that it is completely out of the realm of possibilities just yet.
Moving on to bigger CBB topics, a one-time, NCAA rule change has made things a bit unusual this offseason. Unlike in other years, every player who transfers during this offseason is allowed to immediately play next year. While the NCAA has been allowing this to happen more regularly in the past few years via waivers, not all appeals are successful.
This year, players won’t have to worry about that, and nearly three-fourths of fans around the country said that they like the rule change.
Obviously with all of the complications thrown into the mix because of COVID, it makes sense to give these players some flexibility to find the right spot, as circumstances have undoubtedly changed for many players over the past 13-14 months.
However, for now, the rule change is only in place for this offseason, and —barring future NCAA legislation — will return to the old system next year. To me, this is just another example of the NCAA’s unfair stranglehold on collegiate athletes. There is no logical reason that grown adults should not allowed to attend the school of their choice while playing a sport if the school and team want them to.
If you want to say that everyone gets one free transfer to play right away, and every subsequent transfer would require a waiver to play immediately, ok, I can get down with that. But between limiting the movement of student-athletes, prohibiting them from earning money based on their skills or name, image, and likeness, the NCAA needs to get its head out of the mid-20th century sand and adapt to the times in which they are operating now.
Fortunately, just over half of college basketball fans want the rule change to be in place permanently. That number is still way too low, imo, but it’s a start. Come on, NCAA, do the right thing for the first time in forever.
With the increased ability to change teams and play immediately, it would be understandable for fans to expect dramatic changes to the roster. However, 42% of all fans that responded to this week’s survey think that there will be no net change for their favorite teams, while 30% think their team will add more players via the transfer portal than they will lose; 27% believe the inverse.
I think that the opening of the transfer portal is a double-edged sword, especially for big-time programs like Ohio State. Yes, the Buckeyes will be able to attract big-name, talented players who are looking for a new home — hello, Justin Fields — but they will also lose talented players who do not want to sit and wait behind other talented, more experienced players — hello, half of Holtmann’s recruits in 2018 and 2019.
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