Is 19-0 a Possibility?

By poguemahone on December 14, 2010 at 2:00p

When I found out Ohio State was ranked 5th in preseason polls, I'll admit that I was a a little concerned. Not only did I think they were ranked higher than they should be, I thought a rough first month, with trips to very good Florida and solid Florida State, might provide ample opportunity for obnoxious southerners to break out the usual chants for a team that, in my mind, probably was indeed a tad overrated but still a very talented, elite-eight-or-bust squad. 

But, as usual, I underestimated the Buckeye roundball squad to a degree I usually reserve for my overestimation of the football Buckeyes. Jared Sullinger and the boys crushed both Florida and Florida State, silenced the redneck crowds, and at the same time silenced many of their preseason doubters, including myself. The Buckeyes are 8-0, and although six of those teams were patsies through and through, Ohio State annihilated 7 of 8 and presently stands at #2 in the national polls.

The next month is going to give the Buckeyes a lot of time to learn and get better. Take a look at the remaining schedule. Ohio State has five non-conference games to go until the conference schedule begins. Only one of those games (South Carolina) is against a team that currently boasts a better-than-.500 record. Each game should be a win, most of them decisively so. Then Big Ten play begins with a rare winnable game at Indiana. Tom Crean's team is 7-2 with losses to Kentucky (respectable) and Boston College (bleh). Over the course of the following three weeks, the Buckeyes play Iowa twice, and host Minnesota as well as perennial doormat Penn State in the Schott. They travel to Michigan on the 12th of next month. 19 games in, the Buckeyes will have played two teams (Florida and Minnesota) currently ranked.

As a wise man once said, I need to know: am I a man possessed with optimism (some would say homerism), or is this a team that could get to 19-0 heading into the showdown with Illinois in Assembly Hall? They're already all-but-assured of 13-0 barring a collapse against South Carolina, and would need truly epic collapses to lose to Iowa or Penn State at home. I can see the Buckeyes struggling on the road at Iowa, Indiana and Michigan, and again at home against a big, physical Minnesota team, but all four games still seem like wins to me. Necessary caveat: if the Buckeyes play like they did against IUPUI for most of the game, they'll get rolled by these more talented teams.

Of course, this set-up just means the Buckeyes' schedule is shockingly backloaded. After the road date with Illinois, the Buckeyes host Purdue, get relative breathers against Northwestern and Michigan, then go back on the road to take on the Gophers, Badgers and Boilers. The one home game in that stretch? It's against Tom Izzo's Michigan State Spartans. Good times. And there's still a trip to Wisconsin - where Ohio State hasn't won since the dawn of time, if my calculations are correct - lurking at the end of the schedule.

So what do you think? Is this team good enough to go 19-0? Could they go even farther than that? Nobody expects a Wooden-esque 30-0 regular season in a Big Ten of this caliber, so where do you think the Buckeyes fall along the way?


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BucksfanXC's picture

Way to jinx it Sam!

But seriously, I had this conversation with a friend of mine up here in TSUN and they all said there is no way we get thru the Big Ten undefeated, and I agreed. BUT I think we have a legit shot at 20 or even more before we get a loss. This team has the schedule, the talent, the depth, the leadership, the diversity (they have shooters, rebounders, down low presence, and defense). We have flaws too though, we have young kids that have yet to play a Big Ten game let alone a March tourney game. The Gophers, Spartans and Boilermakers all have problems too however, so we'll see. Wisky will be tough and Illinios presents a unique challenge for us always.

However, in the, it might not be so bad to lose camp: I almost want the team to get a loss, sometime before the Big Ten schedule even, so that they get a glimpse of what it's like to lose and learn to hate it. You gotta hate losing more than you love winning. You learn a lot from a loss. I've always seen a team that is favored, maybe one that wins the regular season conference crown, get booted from the Big Ten tourney early and turn around and do surprising well in the dance. Being an MSU student, I've seen many a Tom Izzo squad take this route to a Final Four. I'm not gonna route for that to happen to the team, cuz I'd like to seem them win the conference, the conference tourney and go to a Final Four (and them some), but it isn't the end of the world.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

ERIC OSU's picture


Dont sleep on Oakland on the 23rd of December... Another team from the Summit (IUPUI) that boasts a talented squad. They actually have something that most small schools severly lack with his a tall and gifted center, he actually contemplated going to the NBA last year as a junior. They lost to Mich ST by 1 and ILL by 11, so I'm looking at that game..

Other game is MINN @ home. Wins over decent teams in W.Kent, WVU, UNC were no fluke.  They should be getting their regular starter at PG back, Al Nolen; by the time they come into town. They're a pretty deep team and everytime we have to go up against Blake Hoffarber, you never know; he killed us in Minneapolis last year.

tomcollins's picture

Jinxing it isn't that big a deal since if it doesn't happen, oh well.  We are going to most certainly lose a game at some point.  

But looking just at the KenPom numbers for the games coming up, we have a 50% chance of losing a game before the 18-0 mark.  48% chance of making it to 19-0.

Then things get much harder.  26.8% chance we are undefeated at 20-0.  7.11% chance of 25-0.  And finally, a 1.9% chance of being undefeated going into the Big Ten Tournament at 31-0.

With a down ACC, Duke has an amazing 20% chance of running the table before the tournament.  Kansas 10.8%.  BYU 2.0%.  No one else above even half a percent.

The win distribution is pretty crazy for Ohio State as well.  The most common record we'll have is 28-3 (15-3), which would be very good knowing how tough the B1G is.  Wisconsin is the next closest with a 22-8 (12-6) projection. We could actually be a bit unlucky, and still win the Big Ten outright, which is quite incredible knowing the strength of the conference. There really are no gimmes this year.  Iowa, Penn State, Michigan, and Indiana are all at least respectable opponents for bottom dwellers.

In a season this long against this many decent or better teams, a slip is bound to happen.   I'll be incredibly happy if we can win 30 games before March Madness.

BuckeyeSki's picture

I hope you're retired good sir, cuz if your posting these short essays at work all day long....*slow clap*

Banned from BlackShoeDiaries since 2008. Crime: Slander/Defamation of Character Judgement: Guilty

poguemahone's picture

Oakland just beat the Vols in Knoxville. So they too might make me eat my words.

tomcollins's picture

No doubt Oakland is not a team to misunderestimate, but our odds are still quite good in that game.  Purdue beat them down, Illinois beat them down, and Sparty played them close.  They are likely the toughest team we play until Minnesota (although road games are always tough, so Indiana and Iowa may be slightly tougher games).

We are about 50-50 to be undefeated after 19 games.  If we do, great.  If not, I won't be that disappointed.  It's a marathon, not a sprint.

Chris Lauderback's picture

Yeah, I almost forgot we play those dudes. At least they shouldn't catch OSU by surprise.

Kyle Rowland's picture

I'd be pretty surprised if they won at Minnesota. 

tomcollins's picture

The Minnesota road game is a ways off (the one I was referring to was a home game).  The biggest tests I see, in order:

@ Wisconsin

@ Illinois

@ Purdue

@ Minnesota



Michigan State

If we can go 4-3 in those games, I am extremely happy.