Last Sunday, January 15, the Ohio State Buckeyes got their first Big Ten win of the basketball season in a 72-67 victory over Michigan State. All five starters had double-digit figures and JaQuan Lyle led the team with his 22-points, six-assist, and four-rebound performance.
On Wednesday, Marc Loving and the Buckeyes scored with less than a second left to escape Nebraska with a 67-66 win. The Buckeyes trailed by eight at the half (40-32), but played well in the second half to stay in the game. Loving led the team with 15 points, as well as 11 rebounds, his second double-double of the year. Jae’Sean Tate and JaQuan Lyle scored 13 points while big-man Trevor Thompson contributed 10 points.
The back-to-back wins against Michigan State and Nebraska was Ohio State’s first back-to-back wins this season since a 37-point victory over Youngstown State and 2-point escape against UNC Asheville in December. On Sunday, the two-game winning streak was stopped by the hands of a red-hot Northwestern team that has only lost four times this year.
Northwestern had not won in Columbus, OH since 1977, but finally ended the 40-year drought. In addition, Northwestern has a great possibility of making the March Madness tournament for the first time ever. For Northwestern, guard Scottie Lindsey scored 21 points, keeping alive his streak of double-digit scoring in every game this season. Guard Bryant McIntosh contributed another 17. For Ohio State, Jae’Sean Tate led the team with 14 points while Trevor Thompson had a double-double of 11 points and 15 rebounds. The Buckeyes lost a close one, 74-72, with free throws a problem once again. Going 12/23 at the free throw line cost the team some free points, and the team is shooting a dreadful 66.1% from the line this year.
Looking into this upcoming week, the team has a home game against Minnesota on Wednesday and a trip to Iowa City, IA to face the Hawkeyes on Saturday. Minnesota is 15-5 on the year; however, they are on a three-game losing streak. The last team that Minnesota won against was…Ohio State. The Golden Gophers had a 10-point victory and dominated the game throughout.
Iowa is trending downwards as well with two straight losses to Northwestern and Maryland. Peter Jok does lead the conference in 21.6 PPG and Ohio State will need to contain him in the hopes of winning the game. The best case scenario is two wins for the Buckeyes by taking advantage of teams that are on losing streaks. Splitting the games is not the worst thing in the world. Dropping both games would have the Buckeyes dropping to a 12-10 record and at risk of not even making the NIT.
Can the Buckeyes make the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament this year?
Currently with a 12-8 overall record (2-5 in the Big Ten), tournament hopes are not looking too great for the Buckeyes. Their three best wins are against Michigan State, Providence, and Nebraska (currently 52, 61, and 87 in the Pomeroy Ratings), except an ugly loss to #293 Florida Atlantic stands out. Playing competitive games against ranked-Virginia and ranked-UCLA helps the Bucks’ strength of schedule, but time is running out on Thad Matta and the Buckeyes to turn around this basketball season.