There’s no sugar coating it: the last week has been a brutal one for the Ohio State men’s basketball team. After it stumbled against Penn State, Ohio State ripped off four consecutive wins, putting it in a pretty good spot with games against Indiana and Wisconsin on the horizon.
Unfortunately, neither of those games went well... at all. After setting a season-low in points with its 71-65 loss to Indiana, Ohio State followed it up by setting a new season-low in points with a 71-60 loss to Wisconsin. The Buckeyes are now 12-4 overall on the season, and 2-3 in Big Ten play.
Last week, Connor and Justin debated whether freshman guard Taison Chatman, the former top-40 recruit, should see an increase in playing time in Big Ten play. 68% of the readers sided with Connor, who said Chatman should see more minutes moving forward. The other 32% sided with Justin, who isn’t quite sold that he needs to be playing more at this point.
After 134 weeks:
(There have been four ties)
As stated above, the men’s basketball Buckeyes seem to have hit a bump in the road... or a mountain, depending who you ask. Losers of two straight, the Buckeyes will now face Michigan on the road and Penn State at home — two games they ought to win if they’re still interested in going to the NCAA Tournament.
Does the fact that we’re now saying “if” they make the NCAA Tournament mean that we should grab the panic button? On a scale of 1-10, how concerned are you with this team?
Today’s Question: On a scale of 1-10, how concerned are you with the Ohio State men’s basketball team?
It’s not time to jump ship yet, because I don’t think the boat is sinking. But there’s a few very concerning trends that we’re seeing from these Buckeyes that need to be addressed as soon as possible.
For starters, Ohio State’s defense has regressed significantly since Big Ten play began. After briefly having a top-50 defense in the country according to KenPom, its defensive rank has slipped down to 77 overall. The games against Indiana and Wisconsin were two of the Buckeyes’ worst defensive performances of the season, and in both contests the Buckeyes were unable to get the crucial defensive stops it needed to close out games.
After getting back within two points against Indiana with 1:44 left in the game, Malik Reneau diced up the Buckeyes’ interior defense for a hook shot to get the Hoosiers back up by four — essentially ending the game.
After taking a four-point lead over Wisconsin with 6:14 remaining, the Badgers went on a 19-4 run to end the game, only missing one shot in the process.
Both games were competitive throughout and the Buckeyes had an opportunity to win it in the closing minutes. Both times, Ohio State crumbled on the defensive end and was unable to close out the game. I’m starting to question how much this team really improved defensively from last year, if at all. And if they didn’t improve at all on that end, it’s going to be really difficult to make the tournament.
The other very concerning trend is the all-around poor play of Roddy Gayle. Up until about a week ago, Gayle was having a breakout season that warranted All-Big Ten honors at the end of the season. But over his last three games, Gayle has hit 11 of his 46 shots, one of his last 13 three-pointers, and has 12 turnovers to just five assists. Gayle doesn’t look comfortable at all shooting it, and was clearly hesistant to let it fly against Wisconsin, even with nobody standing in front of him.
The talent is there, but right now Gayle is in his own head to a point where his minutes are hurting the team and making it less likely they win games. With the serious lack of bench production that this team brings, Ohio State really can’t afford for Gayle to fall into a prolonged cold stretch.
For the first time this year, I think it’s reasonable to wonder if this team has what it takes to get back to the NCAA Tournament. With 75% of the Big Ten schedule still in front of Ohio State, there’s plenty of time to get things moving in the right direction — but I don’t like how it looks at the moment.
I want to preface this by saying that, as I write this, I am watching Michigan at Maryland. That is important to my overall point.
These last two games obviously have gone about as badly as they could have for the Buckeyes. There were times they were in a good spot in the second half in both games, only to fall short in the final eight minutes. Whether it is coaching, execution, or some late fatigue (I think it can be a combination of all of it), you have to be able to close games.
Oddly enough, after Alabama, UCLA, West Virginia, and, to a degree, Minnesota, this team looked like they would be able to close games down the stretch. Now, after Penn State, Indiana, Wisconsin, and even Texas A&M early in the season, the late-game struggles from last season have seemingly seeped into this season.
However, I don’t think the sky is falling. I also recognize that this could age horribly if the Buckeyes do not pick up two wins this week. You are at Michigan, who is the worst team in the conference, and then at home against Penn State, and I don’t have to explain why that one is important.
If they win both of those, then the train is back on the tracks, and then they have a chance to pick up two decent wins against Northwestern and Nebraska, who looks like a tournament team this season.
If they lose either of those, then my panic level hits 10. And the season is over. You have to win both of those games.
I am not panicking right now because, at the end of the day while the last two games look really bad, it really is two losses and one at Assembly Hall and then against a top 15 team. Which is not the end of the world.
But the hand is hovering over the panic button right now.
On a scale of 1-10, how concerned are you about the Ohio State men’s basketball team? (1 means everything is perfect, 10 means the season is over)
This poll is closed