The Buckeyes have had a mixed season so far. They started red hot, faded in Big Ten play, and got largely back on track before getting knocked out of the Big Ten Tournament last weekend. With all eyes on the NCAA Tournament, the Buckeyes landed as a #6 seed with some matchups that might lead to a Buckeye postseason run.
Ohio State began the season with an impressive 15-0 record. In fact, they were able to rise all the way to #2 in the nation in early January. After their win over Nebraska at home, OSU not only sat at 15-0, but 2-0 in the Big Ten with wins over American, Delaware, Marquette, Maryland, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio, and Purdue. None of those teams were great, but there are a good chunk of quality wins in there. Plus, at the time, many of the teams including Marquette, Notre Dame, and Purdue looked like they could have a shot at making the big dance. It's one thing to be undefeated, but remaining undefeated into January? That's definitely notewrothy.
Unfortunately for OSU, their basketball team's historic run ended much like their football team's did last season. As they began to face tougher competition, they began to drop games. In hindsight (as mentioned above), many of those wins looked less impressive. OSU may have started 15-0, but they followed that up with an 0-4 stretch including a road loss to Nebraska that would be a sign of things to come. Overall, OSU would lose 5 of 6 games during that early Big Ten stretch with losses to Nebraska and Penn State and only beating Illinois.
Finally, the Buckeyes got things back on track with a road win against Wisconsin. This was a huge win as the Buckeyes were able to get back on track and win 6 of the team's next 7 games. The lone loss came to eventual Big Ten regular season champion Michigan. Though no Buckeye fan ever likes to lose to Michigan, it's hard to argue that the loss to the Wolverines was a bad one considering Michigan ended up as a #2 seed. Sure, many of the teams in this stretch were not exactly great (Northwestern, Purdue), but winning in the Big Ten is never easy. At the end of this 7 game stretch, OSU sat at 22-6 overall and 9-6 in the Big Ten.
Once again though, the Buckeyes would stumble after a hot stretch. They dropped their next 2 games to Penn State and Indiana. Both of these teams failed to make the NCAA Tournament or NIT. Not exactly the kind of loss that a team can ever grow to accept. At this point, people were writing OSU off left and right. Their offense was too limited or their defense had faded down the stretch. For a Thad Matta coached team, the criticism was kind of surprising.
Again though, the Buckeyes would step up. They not only won their regular season finale against Michigan State at home, but scored 1st and 2nd round Big Ten Tournament wins against Purdue and Nebraska. Whatever your views of these teams, that is a solid 3 game stretch. Unfortunately, OSU would lose once again to Michigan in the Big Ten semi-finals, but many did not even expect them to get there and OSU could have easily won that game. They ended the season at 25-9 overall and 10-8 in the conference.
After the season, OSU snagged a #6 seed in the South region and will face Dayton in the 2nd round. If they win, they would likely face Syracuse. They are certainly in a loaded region, but it's important not to underrated OSU in the postseason. Other teams get a lot of attention, but it's worth mentioning that OSU has made the Sweet Sixteen in each of the last 4 seasons. That's no easy task. In fact, nobody else in the Big Ten can claim that feat over the last 4 seasons.
Overall, it's hard to know how this season will be judged until OSU wraps up their tourney play, but this team has certainly show it is resilient. Each time they have struggled, they have always been able to step up and win some important games. They routinely got counted out, but came back to fight again. That alone makes this Ohio State team special.