So, if you hadn’t noticed, the Ohio State men’s basketball team did not play a game on Saturday. They had been scheduled to take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers, but due to an outbreak of Covid-19 amongst the Huskers, the game was officially postponed. The Big Ten will look to reschedule the contest, but given that there is only roughly a month and a half left in the regular season, there is no guarantee that both teams will have the availability to squeeze it in.
Of course, this comes at a particularly difficult time for the Buckeyes as they were just starting to get their legs underneath them following a three-week, holiday-spanning Covid pause of their own. Since their break, they have gone 3-2, including a hastily added game against IUPUI, one of the worst teams in Division I college basketball. However, despite the opponent, that game was important as it allowed head coach Chris Holtmann another opportunity to get his guys game action, and given the final score — Ohio State blew out the Jaguars 83-37 — a lot of rotational players got a ton of time.
The problem is that that game cam on Tuesday, Jan. 18 and the Buckeyes are not currently scheduled to be back on the floor until Thursday, Jan. 27 at Minnesota. However, the Gophers have been dealing with Covid concerns of their own. While they did play on Saturday — beating Rutgers 68-65 — their previous game against Penn State had to be canceled due to health and safety concerns in the Gopher program.
If those issues resurface, and Minnesota has to cancel Thursday’s game against the Buckeyes, that would mean that Holtmann’s squad would not have another game scheduled until Sunday, Jan. 30 when Ohio State would take on the most talented team in the Big Ten — despite their recent stumbles — the Purdue Boilermakers.
Given how OSU struggled to get right after their three-week hiatus, having a 12-day layoff before traveling to West Lafayette would be less than ideal. There were reports that Holtmann and the Buckeyes were attempting to throw together a game early this coming week — likely Monday or Tuesday — to keep the team fresh, but that the logistics of finding a team and finalizing a plan just didn’t work out.
So, for now, the OSU MBB team is in a bit of a state of limbo. They are preparing for Thursday’s game and keeping their fingers crossed that it ends up happening, but knowing that at any time, the still on-going pandemic could throw another wrench in their schedule.
The Buckeyes had been building some serious momentum before Covid blew up their schedule at the end of 2021, and it looks like it might be attempting to wreak havoc again right when they are trying to get back to mid-season form for a stretch run. Fortunately, it appears that the health and safety concerns are not currently an issue for the Buckeyes themselves, so let’s hope it stays that way. Given the starts and stops of this season, it might take some time for OSU to get back up to speed, and unfortunately that could eventually hurt their seedings for the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments, through no fault of their own.