Does Ohio State "Need To Lose"?

Ian_InsideTheShoe's picture
February 3, 2011 at 6:51a

First posted at Inside The Shoe


The majority of people I have spoken to and heard on various sports shows seem to agree that losing at least one game during the regular season helps a team in the long run.  They don't have to deal with any questions about an undefeated season and can just focus on the game at hand.  I do not buy into this philosophy, for several reasons.  Ask any of the players on the team that question, if they think they need to lose a game in order to win the championship.  

I would expect every single one of them to confidently respond "No".  David Lighty, William Buford, Jon Diebler, Dallas Lauderdale; they all know what it is like to lose regular season and  tournament games.  Jared Sullinger's Columbus Northland team lost in the State Championship last season after winning it the year before.  Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas each lost games throughout their high school careers.  My point is it's not like none of the players know what it is like to lose.  All of the guys on this team know what it is like to win championships (be it state high school titles or Big Ten or high school conference championships) and know what it is like to lose in tournament games.  


The Buckeyes have also had plenty of nail-biters this year.  The last game against Northwestern, at Iowa, at Illinois, and at Michigan, as well as home games against Minnesota and Penn State.  All of these games were decided by 5 points or less and went down to the last possession or two.  So it's not like the Buckeyes haven't been tested all year.  They went on the road and beat two very good teams in Florida and Florida State before conference play even started.  In their biggest game of the year, they beat #10 Purdue at home by 23, and the game was never in doubt.  If your team has more talent, better coaching, and is just plain better than every other team (and all these may be true about the Buckeyes), then there really is no reason for that team lose.

Now, while I don't think the Buckeyes need to lose a game before March, I do think it is very possible they will drop at least one contest.  With a home and home against Wisconsin, rematches with Minnesota, Purdue and Illinois, a home game against Michigan State, and then the Big Ten Tournament, it would be easy for Ohio State to slip up once or twice.  Ohio State has had off games this year and still prevailed because they are the most complete team in the country.  If they are having a cold shooting night, they can go inside to Sullinger.  If teams crowd the paint, they can drain open jumpers.  If a team tries to slow the game down to limit Ohio State's offensive possessions (see: Northwestern), they can fall back on their superb defense.

Only 7 teams have gone undefeated and won the NCAA National Championship since 1900.  It isn't easy to do.  No team has done so since Indiana in 1976.  Ten teams have had undefeated regular seasons and lost in the post-season tournament (including the 1961 Buckeyes, who were 27-0 before losing to Cincinnati in the Championship game...).  Numerous others lost in conference tournaments.  If Ohio State loses before the NCAA Tourney, it's not the end of the world.  But I won't be panicking if this team is undefeated heading into March, because they very well could be the 8th team to run the table for the entire year, and that is what every fan should be hoping for.

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k-chiz-10's picture

I agree they don't "have to" lose, and being a good Buckeye Nation man I don't want them to. Nor would I want them to think they need to lose, they're competitors. I know its cliche but as long as the focus is on just 1 win(the game they're playing) how many they win without a loss shouldn't make a difference.

That being said they probably will lose so its a mute point. The Big Ten has too many good teams and scout extremely well. Still I would love to see that happen, what a ride that would be! I would worry about the added pressure though. Three frosh. in key roles(as good as they are) this isn't high school, a nation will be watching ...dissecting...smothering...nit picking...comparing and some will be circling like SHARKS for the kill if they lose in the NCAA tourney. Matta would really have to reel them all in real close to keep focused and not get swept up in all the media attention it would cause.

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tomcollins's picture

I just hope that a single loss doesn't shatter their confidence or anything silly.  Chances are, this team will lose at least once before March.  Too many big games coming up and too many pesky teams that could pull off an upset.  How they react to it is the most important thing to me.

Doc's picture

I would love to see them go undefeated for the entire season and tourney's, but doing so is a lot of pressure.  IF they are going to lose one then why not in the B1G tourney in their first game.  They then can come back to C-bus and rest and really get focused for a deep run(National Title).  Just my $0.02.


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btalbert25's picture

In my opinion the "need to lose" line of thinking does not apply to this team.  They have had so many battles this season, while they haven't lost, they haven't had a walk in the park either.  If they were blowing everyone out by 25 or 30 points then possibly a loss may snap them back to reality.  This team is battle tested and ready.  That being said, I agree, if they do lose a game, why not have it be in the B1G tourney when the game is pointless anyway.  They probably aren't going to be undefeated at that point, but if they are losing early definitely won't hurt their number 1 seed.

Maestro's picture

I think it really depends on the make up of the team.  This team, this year, I would say they don't "need to lose".  Great mix of young and old.  Run the table.

That being said I expect that they will drop a game soon, but it won't derail them much if at all.

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