The Ohio State men’s basketball team saw its Big Ten tournament run come to an end Friday afternoon in Chicago, but the Buckeyes are likely to find their way into the NCAA Tournament when the 68-team field is announced Sunday.
Ohio State (19-14) fell to Michigan State (26-6), 77-70, at the United Center in the third round of the conference tourney after beating Indiana a day earlier. The Buckeyes needed to win the tournament for an automatic bid to the Big Dance, but many experts have projected that beating the Hoosiers was all Ohio State needed to do to earn an at-large bid.
With the tournament run over, the Buckeyes don’t have any guarantees, though. Now they just have to wait.
“We’re just going to have to see Selection Sunday,” fifth-year senior guard Keyshawn Woods said. “We put ourselves in a great position.”
Many projections have the Buckeyes ended up as an 11-seed in the tournament, which could put them in Dayton for a first-four matchup, which would take place either March 19 or 20, making for a quick turnaround. Ohio State has also been projected by various outlets to end up in Hartford, Conn., (March 21/23), Des Moines, Iowa, (March 21/23) or Tulsa, Okla., (March 22/24) for the first and second rounds.
Head coach Chris Holtmann said he’ll meet with his staff to evaluate how to prepare over the next two days without knowing their destination.
“We’ll try to kind of monitor some of that,” he said. “How much, I don’t know for sure, but we’ll try to monitor that and see what happens with some of these other league tournaments. And if it looks like we could (end up in Dayton), we might adapt a change, but these guy sneed a day off right now, tomorrow, and that’s important for them.”
Holtmann also admitted that he’s confident the Buckeyes will end up in the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row under his guidance.
“You’re excited and anxious for Sunday and for that show,” he said. “But like I said, I feel good about our body of work.”
For now, no matter how confident they are, the Buckeyes will simply have to wait. They can do their waiting in the gym, at least.
“Work out,” sophomore center Kaleb Wesson said when asked how he’ll spend his time before finding out Ohio State’s fate. “That’s all you can do is work.”