Crowded at the Top: How Ohio State Won and Lost B1G Supremacy

By Johnny Ginter on March 21, 2014 at 2:30p
16 Comments

The 2005-06 basketball season wasn't a particularly memorable one for the Ohio State Buckeyes. They had a good run in the B1G tourney, but in the NCAA tournament they played a sloppy game against 15 seed Davidson, and then subsequently got destroyed by seventh-seeded Georgetown to the tune of an 18 point deficit.

It was a fairly unremarkable season, but the graduation of several seniors also meant the arrival of one of the greatest recruiting classes in Ohio State history. It was a class that would take the Buckeyes all the way to the national championship game, and set a precedent for success that has lasted for almost seven years.

Since that amazing 2006-07 run, Ohio State has either won or been the runner up in the Big Ten tournament five of the last seven years. Ohio State is the only team other than Michigan State to win back to back titles, and they also easily hold the record for most championship game appearances since the tournament was started in 1998, and this doesn't include their 2002 tournament win that had to be vacated because of the O'Brien scandal.

WELCOME TO THE NEW AGE
The new breed of B1G

The regular season has been just as successful for Ohio State as the tournament has. From 2006 through 2012, Ohio State either won outright or had a share of the best overall conference record five times, including three consecutive seasons from 2010 through 2012. The last time that Ohio State had managed something like that was the 1960s, and since the the conference had been taken over by the likes of Indiana and Michigan State and sometimes Purdue.

That's kind of the thing about the Big Ten; just like every other conference and sport on Earth, dominance is cyclical. I'm not nearly old enough to remember the 1960s and they heyday of guys like Jerry Lucas, but I was at Ohio State during the Oden/Conley run in 2006-07, and given the recruiting classes that Thad Matta has brought in, I thought that it was reasonable to expect that those days of milk and honey were going to continue for the next few thousand years or so.

And the last seven years have been great, and despite some high profile misses in the recruiting department, it still seems like Ohio State will remain a huge force in the Big Ten for as long as Thad Matta decides he wants to keep coaching.

But it's starting to get crowded at the top, and a lot of that goes back to coaching. John Beilein has turned a Michigan basketball program that was a complete afterthought into a perennial threat to win the Big Ten and now looks like a threat to make consecutive Final Four appearances. Bo Ryan has never NOT taken the Badgers to the NCAA tournament, and appear to be on track for finally going beyond the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2005. Hell, Tim Miles at Nebraska has coached up what was thought to have been a laughingstock, and dragged them into March Madness for the first time since the late 90s.

There is now more parity in the Big Ten than there has been in years, and Ohio State no longer has the luxury of simply stepping up and accepting their role as the leader of the conference in basketball. Unless Matta and company are able to bring in classes on the caliber of what we saw in 2006-07, it is going to be a dogfight every single year.

And that's okay, because the truth is that Ohio State didn't really lose Big Ten hegemony, other teams took it away from us by simply improving their programs through solid coaching hires, player development, and good recruiting classes. That means a stronger overall conference with a better national profile, and is good for the conference as a whole.

That'll also mean more B1G conference losses for Ohio State in the long run, and maybe more seasons as frustrating as this one. That will suck.

But Big Ten basketball needs to continue to be both good and competitive, or else it'll fall into the embarrassing stagnation that Big Ten football has. All that's left is for Ohio State fans to ask themselves a simple question: do you want to sit on your throne as the best team in a dire conference, or have to fight to prove yourself every single year by going through a gauntlet of really good teams?

It'd be easy to say the former after this incredibly disappointing season from the men's basketball team, but for long term success, I know what the right answer is.

16 Comments

Comments

MacG91's picture

I wouldn't say they lost Big10 supremacy, just because we a had a down year (finishing 5th in the best conference, finishing #22 nationally) we are just 2 years removed from 3 straight regular season championships and just one season removed from a B10 conference tourney championship which we've won 3 of the past 5 years. It is ridiculous to think we will win the title year in and year out. 

Mac..yeah

+1 HS
Johnny Ginter's picture

hegemony is probably the better word than supremacy i think; i meant in the football sense where we're obviously the top dog and everyone else is trailing at our heels. i feel like we came close to that for a few years there, but i think with the emergence of some really, really good coaches in the B1G, that time is over

MacG91's picture

Yeah that's true, I'd rather have it the way it is now than like football. We saw how the selection committee views a conference with a few good teams a lot of weak ones aka the American. 

Mac..yeah

The Butler's picture

Johnny - While I understood the general meaning of "hegemony" from its context within the article, I did have to Google hegemony to get the exact definition. 

Thanks for helping me learn something today...now I can take the rest of the day off.

+1 HS
ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

The Buckeyes had a down year.  Other programs did a good job building up.  Who in the hell would've ever pegged NEBRASKA to get to the NCAA tournament before the season began...and who would've thought that two out of three meetings with them would bring one loss and a miracle comeback to avoid another loss?  Iowa had a nice year, though they fell apart down the stretch.  TTUN hit on a few recruits, and though I don't think they'll be Final Four good again after last season, they'll be a formidable foe to have to get by.  Sparty and Wisconsin are always pretty good to great.  Minnesota could win the NIT.  And this is all with Indiana, Purdue, and Illinois being down, programs with good to great basketball history that are typically better than they were this year.

That doesn't mean supremacy is gone, that means it has been challenged.  It's time for the Buckeyes to respond, and I think they will.  Over the course of time, I think people will look at OSU and always be able to say that they've been the supreme B1G team in general over Matta's tenure, even if they're not necessarily winning the conference regular season, conference tournament, or making deep NCAA tournament runs every year.

 

Class of 2010.

+1 HS
KennyRdBuckeye's picture

The 2005-06 team was predicted to finish about 5th at the highest in the B1G and won the regular season title outright, in my opinion a much more impressive feat than the B1G tourney title.  Also it was Matta's first title and OSU first outright title since I don't know when, pretty memorable season for me.

If you will it, it is no dream 

bucksfan92's picture

I was a student during the last era of OSU basketball supremacy (early 90s) this is so much different than that.  I had very little confidence in Ayers's ability to keep things going.  Matta is a proven winner.  In his first 10 seasons he has won 9 B1G titles.  He won with a rag tag group of O'Brien's leftovers, with one and dones, and with teams that have a mix of upper classmen and very talented young guys.  His seniors let him and their team down this year - Craft and Smith delivered a colossal choke job as leaders, so we move on and hope that Q, Sam and Shannon Scott can provide that leadership next year. He appears to have a solid recruiting pipeline so I am not too worried about us slipping in the B1G hierarchy any time soon.

+1 HS
Doc's picture

Is it still to much to ask for AACC to suck?  The rest of the B1G can be good, we don't have to win it every year, but for all that is Holy and good please make TTUN blow chunks.

"Say my name."

+1 HS
pamemake's picture

Let's be honest here. The teams that dominate are both from the Great State of Michigan. This is not popular to say on this board, but when you look truth in the eye, you see clearly. OSU has been dominated and now is talking of past glories like an old man on the porch in his rocking chair.

-10 HS
Buckeyevstheworld's picture

talking of past glories like an old man on the porch in his rocking chair.

The irony of this coming from a Michigan fan....

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

Go1Bucks's picture

Pamemake - your a troll, full of gloating shit.

Ohio State is down, but not out.  They had a bad season, that's all  since we have lost more than other teams to the ravages of the easy cash NBA, we have to reload, just like the football team.  Which we will do next year.  We will be fine.  And that State up North will again, as always, wish they were us.

 

Go Bucks!

Go Bucks!

+1 HS
pamemake's picture

Go1Bucks-before we start...here's some tissue for your tears. You assume I'm gloating? YOU must be really hurt inside. If you want someone to "wish they were us" , you have already admitted you're less. Nicely done. I don't think anyone would want to wish they were a lower tier anything. Time for you to "Man-Up" or quit using Woody Hayes quotes on your signature line.

 

 

-10 HS
Go1Bucks's picture

Awwww, your a funny troll too!

Go Bucks!

+1 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

"Just wait til next year" - I am used to saying that - I am originally from Cleveland

+1 HS
Go1Bucks's picture

Sad, but true.  We Clevelanders are resilient.  We have to be.

Go Bucks!

Eph97's picture

Isn't it cute to see all the Walvy's coming out of the woodwork after being in the gutter for a decade?

Matta had some misses in recent recruiting and it caught up with him. With the talent coming next year, OSU bball isn't going away anytime soon. More final four appearances than any other school in the B1G.

+1 HS