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Established October 31, 1996
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Last updated: 03/20/2012 0:22 AM
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Men's Basketball
March Madness Inspires Optimism in Buckeye Fans
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Did a strong Big Ten Tournament finish give you hope for Ohio State's postseason future? If you took last week's The-Ozone poll, the answer to that question is "apparently so".

A few weeks ago, we conducted a poll which asked readers to tell us how many games they expected the Buckeyes to win in the NCAA Tournament.

The results showed that 78% of fans expected the Buckeyes to do no better than three wins in the tournament, while the remaining 21% expected Ohio State to at least reach the Final Four.

After the pairings and brackets were released last Sunday, we wanted to know if actually seeing the Buckeyes' postseason road had changed their expectations for this team, so we re-conducted the poll by asking "Now that you have seen Ohio State's bracket for the 2012 NCAA Tournament, how far will the Buckeyes advance this year?"

The results, as you might guess, were fairly direct.

After getting a chance to study the brackets and rationalize Ohio State's way through each opponent, expectations for the Buckeyes reaching the Final Four jumped from 22% to 37%.

However, not everybody was moved by Ohio State's bracket, nor did they apparently even need to see it in order to pick the Buckeyes to lose their very first Tournament game.

In the first poll, 1.4% of voters didn't expect the Buckeyes to win even one game. In the latest poll, that percentage was 1.5%. Clearly, some people just want to see the world burn.

In the most recent poll, 27% of people expect the win over Gonzaga to be Ohio State's last one of the year, though 25% think they still have one more in them.

Overall, there was very little change in opinions from one poll to the next, but one significant change indicates a very sizable shift in optimism.

In the first poll, 36% of people thought the Sweet 16 was all the further the Buckeyes would get. In the latest poll, however, that number dropped to 27%. It would appear that the missing 9% cast their vote for the Buckeyes going further than just the Sweet 16 this season.

There was also a drop in percentage for the Buckeyes winning three games and reaching the Elite Eight. In the first poll, 28% of pollsters expected an Elite Eight appearance at best. In the latest poll, that number drops to 25%.

However, the percentage drop of folks expecting two or three wins isn't an indication of a rise in pessimism from two weeks ago until now. Instead, it's an indication of optimism, as it would appear that people who had previously expected two or three wins are now expecting at least four, hence the jump from 22% to 37% of people expecting a Final Four since the brackets were announced.

Fans will know in less than a week if their optimism was warranted, as the Buckeyes are set to take on the Cincinnati Bearcats Thursday night.

With a win, Ohio State heads to the Elite Eight with a shot at the Final Four on the line—and 37% of people polled fully expect to see the Buckeyes make it.

Ozone Poll Voting Results

Final Four - 170 votes (37%)
Sweet 16 - 127 votes (27%)
Elite Eight - 115 votes (25%)
Second Round - 45 votes (10%)
One and Done - 7 votes (2%)

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