The Ohio State Buckeyes ended the season with a loss to Michigan State Spartans in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament. A win over the Spartans would have certainly helped the Buckeyes NCAA tournament resume, but now the team is gearing up for their first NIT game which will take place on Tuesday at home against Akron. They received a three seed, and the team should be happy with going to the NIT after a pretty poor start to the season.
The Buckeyes did not get off to the best start at the beginning of this season by losing back-to-back games to UT-Arlington and Louisiana Tech. They lost to both these mid-major teams, but then the team got back on track after they defeated the Kentucky Wildcats on Dec. 19. The Buckeyes also had big victories over the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Michigan Wolverines during Big Ten Play. Ohio State had a little rebuilding to do after losing D'Angelo Russell to the NBA, but the rebuilding process was sped up due to how good some of their young players played.
Freshmen JaQuan Lyle was terrific this year by being the team's floor general and best passer, sophomores Jae'Sean Tate and Keita Bates-Diop led the team in rebounding and shot-blocking, and junior Marc Loving led the team in scoring be averaging 13.8 PPG. These players have shown that they can really play this season, and the future is looking quite bright for the Buckeyes, even though they did not make the NCAA tourney.
Thus Buckeyes team is very young, but there young talent really stepped up to make sure that they earned an NIT bid. The Buckeyes showed at times that they really do not have a lot of experience to compete with some of the better teams in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes had six freshmen and four sophomores this season, and most of them played meaningful minutes for the team. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Buckeyes, which is why fans should be happy with an NIT bid. Ohio State's future is very bright, especially because there team is so young and because they are welcoming new talent for next year.
Almost all of the key players from this past year will be on the team next season, and the Buckeyes will add some big recruits like 4-star Derek Funderburk and 4-star Micah Potter. Both players could help out tremendously in the frontcourt, which is where the Buckeyes really need help.
Obviously Ohio State wanted to make the NCAA tournament this year, but they definitely did overachieve with the roster that they have. The Buckeyes are one of the youngest teams in the Big Ten and they finished in middle of the conference, which is rather impressive. Things were not looking very bright after losing back-to-back games at the beginning of the season to mid-major teams, but they ended up finding their rhythm as a team after their huge win over Kentucky.
Watch for Ohio State to make some noise in the NIT this season.