Ohio State Big Ten Tournament Outlook

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The Buckeyes have struggled for much of the season offensively, but their tremendous defense could help catapult them to a higher seed in the NCAA Tournament. That is, if they can get through the Big Ten Tournament relatively unscathed first.

How We Got Here:

The Ohio St. Buckeyes had high hopes going into the 2013-14 season. Coming off of an Elite 8 performance a season ago, Thad Matta, Aaron Craft & Co. looked to built off of that success and have yet another successful season in Columbus. Unfortunately, things did not go to plan. Despite a 15-0 start, the Buckeyes went 8-8 to finish out the season.

This included a disastrous four-game losing streak to the likes of Michigan St., Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska in the early stages of Big Ten play. The Buckeyes then went on to eventually be swept by an underwhelming Penn St. Nittany Lions team and subsequently took a bad loss to a mediocre Indiana Hoosiers squad on March 2.

Despite a victory on Sunday against an equally underachieving Michigan St. team, this team had a simply disastrous sequence during the second half of the season.

While defense is their strong suit, Ohio St. has been inept offensively for much of the season. Four teams in Ken Pomeroy's Top 25 have an Adjusted Offensive Efficiency ranked 100th or higher. Ohio St. is one of them, coming in at 121st, along with the San Diego St. Aztecs (113th), Cincinnati Bearcats (102nd), and Virginia Commonwealth Rams (117th). Two players are averaging double figures for the Buckeyes, and while you will not see many players average double figures, it's hard to call the Buckeyes' offense elite, or above average even.

The Buckeyes have scoring issues and it is a significant drop off to being 11th in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency a year ago, and 5th two years ago as well.

What Needs To Be Done:

It's hard to imagine that Ohio St. immediately cures their scoring issues within a week-long stretch. So the Buckeyes are going to simply just stay true to their game. That game is a tough defensive fingerprint that has gotten them to allow the second-lowest amount of points per 100 possessions this year, just 89.2.

They will not have to worry much about Purdue, who is ranked 125th in the country in AdjO. They will then take on Nebraska if they win their first round matchup, and the Cornhuskers are right near the Buckeyes in AdjO, ranked 103rd in the country. The real problem for Ohio St. will come if they take on the Michigan Wolverines and the Wisconsin Badgers, which would only happen in the semifinals in Michigan's case, and the final if they do take on Bucky.

So simply put, Ohio State's defensive brand should hold weight until the semifinals. If their defense does just that, they may have to hope they locked own two of the best offenses in the country in the semifinal and final if they want to stand any chance of winning the BTT, because their offense at this point simply cannot get it done.

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