Ohio State got three big wins in March, defeating Michigan State, Purdue and Nebraska, boosting the Buckeyes to a 6 seed in the NCAA tournament. They face 11 seed Dayton in their first game of the big dance.
Dayton was one of six teams from the Atlantic 10 to advance to the NCAA tournament. The Flyers went 23-10 overall and 10-6 conference. Dayton likes to spread the wealth with nine guys who play at least 12 minutes per game and four players who average at least nine points per game.
Dayton was a solid 4-6 against RPI top 50 opponents, including wins against George Washington, UMASS and St. Louis. The Flyers are sure to provide a test for the Buckeyes in the first round. 6 seeds only win roughly two-thirds of their opening round games in the NCAA tournament.
Still, the expectation is that OSU gets by Dayton and will face Syracuse in the third round. The 'Cuse has been slumping recently, losing five of their last seven, which included losses to Boston College, Georgia Tech and North Carolina State. While it would be tough for the Buckeyes to beat the Orange's stifling 2-3 zone, they would certainly be catching the 'Cuse at the right time of the year.
In the sweet 16, Ohio State would most likely draw Kansas or New Mexico. Kansas could very well be without Joe Embiid at that point, a huge plus for OSU. Amir Williams would have an advantage in the post, and the Buckeyes would have a better shot at getting boards and controlling the painted area.
Florida is expected to run roughshod through the top of the south bracket, and would potentially play Ohio State in the elite eight. Florida is the number one overall seed and perhaps the best team in the country, but they've only defeated two RPI top-30 teams this season. Ohio State is more talented and athletic than every other team in the SEC, with the possible exception of Kentucky. The Buckeyes would be a test for Florida, instead of the other way around.
Ohio State's road to the Final Four looks extremely daunting, and it's unlikely that they make a deep run in the tournament. However, they could catch all the right teams at the right time and be this year's bracket buster.