Every once in awhile, we talk to the staff here at BTP about what they think about certain topics. This time, we will be looking at Ohio State after a few rough games. Here is the discussion:
1. CBS Has Projected Ohio State As A #6 Seed. What Are Your Thoughts?
Thomas Beindit (@tbeindit) - Frankly, I was amazed when I saw CBS project Ohio State this low. Are the Buckeyes a perfect team? Of course not and some of their flaws have shown in the last few games, but dropping them this far is a massive overreaction. The fact is that before this week, we were looking at OSU as a potential #1 seed and they were definitely considered to be in line for a #2 seed. Two losses in one week is never great, especially when one of them happens at home, but we still need to be reasonable here. OSU still has a boatload of talent and is going to win a bunch of games the rest of the year. It's a pretty safe bet to say that OSU is going to be higher than a #6 seed, in fact, probably much higher.
Andy Creal - Now obviously after Ohio State's loss Saturday at home to 20th ranked Iowa following an overtime defeat in East Lansing will likely drop them out of the top ten in next week's rankings, however, a #6 seed projection is ridiculous. First let's look at the eye test. The Buckeyes are finishing a breakaway dunk in the final seconds of regulation from defeating the Spartans at the Breslin. Yes, the Iowa loss at home is somewhat of a "bad loss" but every game in the Big Ten is a battle and all the preseason talk was the resurgence of this Iowa program. If Iowa continues to play well (as I expect them to) this loss will look better as time goes on.
Jeremy Michael Haynes - I think it's fair. CBS is mostly looking at Ohio State as they stand now and when you look at their resume it isn't outstanding. They did beat Marquette on the road, but the Golden Eagles are now just 10-7. Maryland is also 10-7. Notre Dame is 10-6. Those are decent wins but many teams have better wins. Ohio State's resume will improve, but a #6 is reasonable as of now.
Aaron Yorke - I'm surprised! Even after losing consecutive games to Michigan State and Iowa, I can still see the Buckeyes winning 13 games in the conference, which should be good enough for at least a 4-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Ohio State's next four games are against Minnesota, Nebraska, Illinois, and Penn State. We shouldn't be talking about anything lower than a 4-seed unless it drops one of those.
2. Do You Think This Is Due To A "Weak" Non-Conference Schedule?
Thomas Beindit (@tbeindit) - Playing a weak non-conference slate is both a positive and a negative. It can help you get a lot of wins, momentum, and time to build your team heading into conference season, but it can also leave you with a weak resume later in the year. OSU was relying on the fact that they could win some major Big Ten games. So far, they have not. Of course, I anticipate this is going to change (and much of the discussion about the Buckeyes as well) as OSU knocks out some wins over some of the better Big Ten teams.
Andy Creal - The weak non-conference schedule is a knock but not to the degree that it is presented. The Buckeyes had good wins versus traditionally solid programs in Maryland and Notre Dame and a signature defensive performance in their early season win at Marquette, holding the Golden Eagles to just 35 points, the fewest in the Buzz Williams era. They're schedule pales in comparison to what Michigan or Michigan State had to deal with before conference play began but given the depth and talent of the Big Ten I don't see Ohio State's schedule as that crippling to their seeding.
Jeremy Michael Haynes - Yes. Ohio State won every non-conference game it had a chance to, but none of their opponents that looked tough on paper ended up playing tough on the hardwood. So far Ohio State has only had two chances to claim top RPI wins, against Iowa and Michigan State, and the Buckeyes lost them both. They'll have more chances to beat top teams in conference play and they'll convert many of them.
Aaron Yorke - Well, it's not due to a weak Big Ten schedule, so I guess the non-conference slate has something to do with it. There aren't any huge marquee wins to speak of, but Ohio State certainly hasn't shied away from playing solid teams. Marquette, Maryland, and Notre Dame are all big "name" teams, while Ohio, Wyoming, North Dakota State, and Delaware are all in the KenPom top 100 as well. The 6-seed probably has a little to do with the fact that the Buckeyes didn't take down Kentucky like Michigan State did, but I wouldn't say that the schedule is soft.
3. What Happens If OSU Loses To Minnesota?
Thomas Beindit (@tbeindit) - First off, the overreactions are going to get even more dramatic. However, I think the arguments against OSU start to gain a lot of ground. So far, OSU has only lost to MSU and Iowa. The Spartans are one of the nation's best teams and Iowa is criminally underrated nationally. Losing to either of those teams is not going to be something that derails your season. Losing to Minnesota is a bit different. The Golden Gophers may be rated relatively high on KenPom, but they are far from a great team and even optimistic Minnesota fans are not confident in a tourney appearance. The game is on the road, which makes it even more intriguing, but there would have to be some major concerns if they do go down to Minnesota.
Andy Creal - The Minnesota game presents a unique challenge for Thad Matta and his boys. A nationally televised game in the late slot on ESPN's Thursday Night College Basketball would suggest a little extra boost for the home team. Ohio State is not the benefactor in this case. Minnesota will enter this showdown as the second of four consecutive matchups against ranked opponents so it puts added pressure on the Gophers to clip the Buckeyes in their building before heading to Iowa. While I don't think that a loss at Minnesota would completely ruin Ohio State's season, an 0-3 start in the Big Ten would be hard to overcome and it's fair to question if the Buckeyes have the leadership outside of Aaron Craft to mentally bounce back from such a poor start.
Jeremy Michael Haynes - A loss to the Golden Gophers wouldn't spell doom for the Buckeyes or their ultimate aspirations, but it'd leave them in a hole likely too deep to climb out of looking towards the Big Ten title. It wouldn't preclude them earning a top 4 or top 3 seed in the long run, but it'd narrow their margin of error considerably.
Aaron Yorke - If Ohio State loses to Minnesota, then it is time to actually get worried about the Buckeyes. However, I don't think that will happen, even with the game being played in The Barn. The Gophers have shown that they have what it takes to hang with tough teams like Michigan State and Syracuse, but they have also struggled with the likes of Purdue and Penn State. I expect Aaron Craft to lock down Andre Hollins, which will make life very difficult for the Gophers.
4. Is OSU Really An "Elite" Team Or Will They Continue To Slide?
Thomas Beindit (@tbeindit) - Elite is a very subjective term that means something different to everyone. Some view it as Top 5, some view it as the best team in the nation, and others simply view it as being a dominant team. To me, you have to be in that very, very top portion of teams to be considered elite. Since I put little faith into the rankings myself, I look at it as more of a top seeding gauge. If you are a top seed, you are an elite team. Right now, I don't think OSU is in line to be a top seed. They certainly can if they turn things around, but they look more like a #3 seed and maybe a #4 seed if they can't pull off some wins. The fact is that OSU is still very good and can become great, but are too inconsistent to truly be elite. Their flaws have been too exposed to believe they are still up there.
Andy Creal - I'm not sure outside of Arizona if we can deem any team in the nation today as "elite". Having said that Ohio State has many pieces that can mold them into a very good team and potentially a Final Four team come March. Experienced leadership at point guard and the rest of the backcourt coupled with possible future NBA players LaQuinton Ross and Amir Williams gives the Bucks more then enough talent to be competitive. The key for this team is going to be who steps up to score the basketball outside of Ross. Thad Matta's teams always play great defense but when this particular team has struggled is when the offense becomes stagnant and guys simply aren't making shots. If Craft starts to score like he did down the stretch last season and gives Ohio State a solid second scoring option I think the Buckeyes can at least move into the discussion for being elite. For now, this team leaves many questions unanswered but they can start to answer some of them by picking up a much needed win on Thursday.
Jeremy Michael Haynes - Ohio State isn't an elite team, but they will finish pretty high in the conference standings. Some of the preseason concerns regarding their offense are real and may not be totally solved this season. Their defense is the real deal, but when they turn the ball over fouling can render their defense less effective. Aaron Craft is typically steady. LaQuinton Ross is magnificently capable. And Amir Williams has really come on to give the Buckeyes a solid post presence. Ohio State has too much talent to go on a major slide, though their upcoming road trip to Minnesota certainly puts them at risk to slide a bit further, Thad has a good team on its hand that will be a handful to deal with throughout conference play and in March.
Aaron Yorke - As a fan of the New York Giants, I've had enough of debates about who is "elite." I will say, though, that Ohio State is still in the top tier of the conference that also includes Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Right now, the Buckeyes are at the bottom of that tier, but when LaQuinton Ross is clicking, they have an offense that is almost as good as their amazing defense. How often Ross will take over the scoring load is a big factor in Ohio State's success. Last week his disappeared versus Michigan State before having a nice game against Iowa. Overall, he's been consistent enough for me to believe that Ohio State will be a very tough out for the rest of the season.