Bracketology Roundup: Where Ohio State Could Be Headed in the NCAA Tournament

By David Wertheim on March 16, 2019 at 7:15 am
Ohio State bench

The Buckeyes are widely projected to be in the NCAA Tournament.

Ohio State basketball may have done just enough this week, beating Indiana in its first game of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday, to secure a spot in the Big Dance.

While we won't officially know until Sunday, we can look at projections made by experts in the field of bracketology to look ahead and analyze some potential matchups for the Buckeyes.

ESPN: 11 seed, vs. Iowa State

Noted bracket guy Joe Lunardi has Ohio State in the field as an 11 seed, playing No. 6 Iowa State in Jacksonville.

The first impression that I have is that this would be a winnable game for the Buckeyes. Iowa State is their same old self, and despite beating Kansas State today, the Cyclones have had their share of bad losses, including to West Virginia by 15 just two weeks ago.

This would be an interesting matchup, and the Buckeyes would have to find a way to slow down Marial Shayok, the Virginia transfer who is averaging 18.6 points per game this season.

CBS Sports: 11 seed, vs. Mississippi State

CBS Sports' Jerry Palm also has the Buckeyes as an 11 seed, playing Mississippi State in Des Moines. This matchup is also intriguing, as Mississippi State racked up 23 wins and will make their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2009. 

While the Bulldogs did lose to Tennessee yesterday to get eliminated from their conference tournament, they did have some big wins this season, defeating Cincinnati and Auburn. Other than that, however, their resume leaves much to be desired. Every time they have played a quality opponent, they have come up short (save for the two outliers). This is another winnable game for the Buckeyes.

SB Nation: 11 seed, vs. Villanova

Yet another outlet has the Buckeyes as a No. 11 seed, as SB Nation's Chris Dobbertean has the Buckeyes taking on Villanova in Tulsa.  

Villanova would represent another intriguing matchup for the Buckeyes. After winning the national championship a year ago, the Wildcats are having a down season (by their standards)

While they did beat Xavier yesterday to advance to the Big East Championship game, the conference is down as a whole, which has benefitted Villanova immensely, and certainly helped them rack up 24 wins. 

Still, the Wildcats always play good basketball, and this would be a tricky matchup for Ohio State. 

The Buckeyes would have to figure out how to defend guard Phil Booth, who averages 18.4 points per game, and foward Eric Paschall, who comes in with 16.7. Both would represent tough matchups for Ohio State, who has struggled to defend for 40 minutes at times this season.

USA TODAY: 11 seed, vs. Auburn

USA TODAY also has Ohio State as an 11 seed, but they have the Buckeyes playing a different SEC foe in the Auburn Tigers in Tulsa.

Led by Bruce Pearl, the Tigers will be making their second straight NCAA Tournament appearance after winning 24 games, and they have a chance to add to that today against Florida in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament. 

The Tigers have notched impressive wins this year over teams such as Washington and Tennessee, but have also lost some questionable games, including contests to Ole Miss (twice) and South Carolina. 

This would be one of the tougher matchups for Ohio State, solely because of the guard play that Auburn possesses. The Tigers feature two elite guards in Bryce Brown (15.7 ppg) and Jared Harper (14.9). Both are also relentless on the defensive end, and a potent and athletic Tiger lineup could give the Buckeyes struggles.

Each of those four outlets have Ohio State safely in the tournament (avoiding the First Four games) playing different teams as an 11 seed. We'll find out Sunday where the committee slots the Buckeyes, but there are numerous host sites and different matchups that could be in play.

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