Today’s Topic: Are the Buckeyes In?
Ohio State and Indiana played in a must-win game in the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday. For the bracketologists out there, it was seen as a play-in game for the NCAA Tournament.
As you may have heard, the Buckeyes came away with the 79-75 win and in so doing, they sealed their invitation to the field of 68.
Ohio State certainly looked like they belonged in the tournament. With Kaleb Wesson back, an offense that had been averaging 17 points per first half during his absence, managed over twice that with 35 points.
The Buckeyes had four scorers in double figures against an Indiana team that had won four in a row coming into this game, including two wins over ranked opponents Wisconsin and Michigan State. Ohio State controlled most of the game, doing it with the standard NCAA Tournament recipe of at least two productive guards and one reliable big man.
Before Thursday’s game, CBS bracketologist Jerry Palm had the Buckeyes as an 11-seed, which could very well have them in Dayton for the First Four. ESPN bracketologist Joe Lundardi had OSU as the very last team in, which would also likely put them in the First Four
Since the Buckeyes were “in” before the game started and then won said game, you’d think 2 + 2 = 4, right?
Ohio State plays No. 1 seed Michigan State on Friday and a loss to the Spartans is expected by the “experts” and so it shouldn’t negatively impact the Buckeyes in a bubble, so to speak. However, teams on the bubble are never in a bubble. Other teams also on the bubble are going to affect OSU, just as OSU will affect them.
With a win against MSU tomorrow, Ohio State can go ahead and RSVP. With a loss, they can send it in, but another conference may send in theirs and bring a plus-one named Cinderella.
In other words, root for every higher-seeded team remaining in the conference tournaments, save for the games in which the Buckeyes play, of course.
You want as much chalk as possible from here on out. Ohio State has a spot, but it’s not locked in.
You don’t want the Committee overbooking this flight and then removing the Buckeyes and giving them a voucher for a free home game in the NIT Tournament.
And who knows, maybe the Committee will see what Ohio State has done in their last two games at full strength (90-70 over Iowa, 79-75 over Indiana) and think that they belong regardless of what the rest of the bubble does.