Winning at least a share of five regular-season titles since '06 has left the folks in Columbus itching for the same, year-in-and-year-out. It's not too far fetched, either. A top-tier coach, top-tier talent and top-tier support for the Buckeyes of the hardwood should add up to being atop the league standings each and every year. Five titles in the past eight years definitely qualifies as consistent, but the Ohio State Buckeyes chances of making that six titles in nine years are slipping faster than Teddy Valentine blows his whistle, and this Aaron Craft led, upperclassmen laden team are on their way to being a huge disappointment heading into March.
After one of the few times you'll see Aaron Craft break down on defense, one has to wonder how far the Buckeyes might fall. Now four and a half games back in the Big Ten, Ohio State (16-5, 3-5) needs to buckle up as they are up against three top-fifteen teams in their next four games. Including in that stretch are away games against the Wisconsin Badgers and Iowa Hawkeyes, back-to-back within a four day stretch. The Buckeyes' only contest against their archival, the Michigan Wolverines, is fourth game in eleven days, though they get Nik Stauskas and company in Columbus.
We'll know the Buckeyes' likely post-season plans by Valentines Day. As mentioned before, the gauntlet ahead of them will be challenging, especially with the state of Thad Matta's offense at this point in the season. The Buckeyes rank 151st nationally in points per game, that's good for ninth in the conference, leading just Northwestern, Nebraska and Illinois. If the Buckeyes can somehow pull off going 2-2 in their next four games, there's no question they'll have a bid to the Big Dance. I think the loss to Penn State hurts their seeding, but that's all at this point; the wheels haven't fallen off completely yet. If Ohio State can muster three wins in their early February gauntlet, then Ohio State will be sitting pretty solidly in the field. However, if the unthinkable happens and the Fighting Thad Matta's go winless in early February, there will be serious questions among the committee when it comes to their resume. They would be 1-6 vs. top 50 competition, with key wins against arguably only Maryland and Notre Dame. Couple that with losses to the likes of the Big Ten bottom dwellers such as Penn State, Nebraska and Purdue -- again if they go winless -- and you've got a not-so-stellar chance of representing the Big Ten in anything except the NIT.
In all reality, I think Ohio State will find some offense and make a pretty solid case for themselves heading into Selection Sunday. They'll likely split their pre-Valentines Day stretch, rebounding from a tough loss to Penn State with a win over Wisconsin and a win over Purdue. Circle the Michigan game, though. Ohio State's defense could limit Derrick Walton Jr., and the Michigan offense by trapping the young guard. He hasn't seen anything like Craft yet in his career. That one will be a dog fight and should go a long way in determining how nervous Buckeye fans will be on Selection Sunday.