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Can Ohio State Cut Down The Nets In Indianapolis?

What can the Buckeyes do in Indy?

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Ohio State Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The Buckeyes enter Big Ten Tournament play ready and able to go on a postseason run. It will require them to get past tournament favorite Michigan State, but Ohio State, 9-3 over their last 12 games, can pull it off.

Let’s take a look at Ohio State’s path in this year’s Big Ten Tournament. We’ll also assess how a run here could impact their position in the NCAA Tournament.

-Opening Round

The Buckeyes get things started with a 2nd round matchup against Purdue on Thursday evening. The Buckeyes won the only matchup between the two teams this season on February 15th, 68-52, in Columbus.

Ohio State dominated this first matchup behind 16 points and seven rebounds from Kyle Young and 13 points from Kaleb Wesson. The status of Young for this game is unclear and that could be a big blow to the Buckeyes because he was the biggest x-factor in the first matchup between the two teams.

Ohio State wins this game if they bring the defensive effort and intensity they brought in the first matchup in Columbus. The Buckeye offense tends to come-and-go at times, but if the defense is there, they likely will move on.

One of the big struggles Purdue had in Columbus was dealing with Ohio State’s perimeter defensive pressure, its high-ball screen defense, and its physicality. Purdue is not a good offensive team but can get hot from three-point range some days.

I like this first-round matchup for Ohio State. I’m not sure Purdue is in a position right now to be able to handle their defensive pressure and the Buckeyes are much more athletic, but if the game is called tight and/or Purdue has a good day shooting the three, this game could grind down to a possession-by-possession struggle. KenPom puts a Buckeye victory at 58 percent with a score of 65-63.

-If They Advance

If the Buckeyes advance a rematch with Michigan State awaits.

The Spartans defeated the Buckeyes last Sunday in East Lansing 80-69 behind 27 points from Cassius Winston.

This is a game that Ohio State could use Young. Xavier Tillman scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds in a game that was never very close. The Spartans also out-rebounded the Buckeyes by six.

A question for Michigan State is will they be able to get a combined 31 points on 7-13 shooting from Aaron Henry and Rocket Watts like they did in the last matchup? The underclassmen have been all over the place with consistency this season, and a neutral-site matchup against the Buckeyes could put

I worry about fatigue with Ohio State in this matchup too. If Young is not able to go, the Buckeyes are basically down to playing six guys. If the matchup against Purdue is anything like the first one, it will be a physical, defensive struggle. Michigan State games are always physical struggles as well. Will Ohio State be able to keep its legs on a back-to-back? What if foul trouble comes into play?

Should Ohio State advance past Michigan State a game on Saturday awaits against Maryland. The Buckeyes and Terrapins split the season series, each winning at home.

It is hard to say which version of Maryland the Buckeyes will face. The Terrapins are co-Big Ten champs but were 2-3 over their last five games. Maryland coach Mark Turgeon has some well-known postseason struggles as well.

Should the Buckeyes advance to the championship game I think a matchup against Wisconsin or Illinois likely awaits. Ohio State is 0-2 against Wisconsin this year and 1-0 against the Illini. Both teams offer different sets of challenges. The Badgers are methodical, slower-paced, and can really shoot the three. The Illini are athletic and an excellent offensive rebounding team.

Either way, any advance to the championship game would have Ohio State potentially going through a gauntlet of co-Big Ten champions. It would also mean an additional three Quad I wins. This gets us to our next discussion item.

-Bracketology Implications

Using BracketMatrix, a site that composites 101 mock brackets from around the internet, the Buckeyes are currently the top five-seed in the NCAA Tournament.

I think even if they lose to Purdue, barring something completely crazy, the Buckeyes should stay a five-seed. They are currently no. 16 in the NET and have a solid 12 victories over Quad I and II teams.

The potential is there for the Buckeyes to get themselves into a 4-seed and maybe even a 3-seed if they go on a sustained run. Here are the next eight teams ahead of them on BracketMatrix and their NET ranking and Quad I/II wins.

Ohio State and Teams Around Them

Team Mock Seed (Bracketmatrix) NET ranking (as of 3/11) Combined Quad I & II Wins
Team Mock Seed (Bracketmatrix) NET ranking (as of 3/11) Combined Quad I & II Wins
Ohio State 5 16 12
Wisconsin 4 24 13
Louisville 4 8 10
Oregon 4 12 13
Kentucky 4 21 14
Maryland 3 18 14
Seton Hall 3 15 15
Michigan State 3 7 14
Duke 3 6 11

Looking at these numbers, a 3-seed would be hard to pull off, but not impossible if the Buckeyes win the Big Ten Tournament title. Playing up to a 4-seed is more likely, especially if they are able to knock-off some Big Ten teams that are on this list.

The other teams obviously can play themselves up-and-down the seeding line as well, but the opportunity is there for Ohio State to improve their NCAA Tournament chances with a good run this week in Indianapolis.

Overall

The Buckeyes should be seen as a nice dark horse pick to win the tournament this week. The analytics have loved Ohio State all season, and they are playing pretty good basketball right now.

A nice, long run in the tournament could have the Buckeyes playing their way into a top-4 NCAA Tournament seed, and maybe even a 3-seed if there are big upsets in other conference tournaments.

Buckeye fans should not kid themselves about the potential gauntlet they face. Ohio State will play a physical team in Purdue first, a more physical and Big Ten co-champs Michigan State second, and then potentially another physical co-Big Ten co-champs team in Maryland on Saturday. This could spell trouble for a team that only plays 6-7 players.

Still, if there is one coach that can get creative and get his team up big challenges it’s Chris Holtmann. Ohio State is one of the more interesting teams to watch this week from Indianapolis. Keep your eye on them.