Six wins in a row will move you up the ladder.
Ohio State has won six games in a row and is still pegged as the No. 4 team in the AP Poll. As such, Chris Holtmann's squad is a lock to make the 2021 NCAA Tournament, which, for the first time ever, will be played entirely in the state of Indiana.
#MarchMadness Scheduling Update!— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) January 19, 2021
March 18 - First Four
March 19/20 - First Round
March 21/22 - Second Round
March 27/28 - Sweet 16
March 29/30 - Elite 8
April 3 - Final Four
April 5 - National Championship
While we won't officially know the Buckeyes' matchup until Selection Sunday on March 14, we can look at projections made by experts in the field of bracketology to look ahead and analyze some potential matchups for Ohio State.
ESPN: 1 Seed, vs. James Madison
ESPN's Joe Lunardi keeps the Buckeyes as a No. 1 seed for the second week in a row, but switches their opponent from Texas State to James Madison.
James Madison has been somewhat of a surprise under first-year head coach Mark Byington. The Dukes finished in last place in the CAA a year ago with a 9-21 (2-16 CAA) record, but have somehow totally flipped that around this year, currently holding serve at the top of the CAA with a 13-5 (8-1 CAA) record.
They don't really have any good wins and their losses, for that matter, have also come against middling teams. They don't exactly seem like a major threat, but March Madness is called that for a reason.
Assuming Ohio State gets past James Madison, Lunardi has them playing the winner of Louisville and a Loyola (Illinois) team that split with Drake over the weekend.
Other notes from Lunardi: both Minnesota and Indiana are in the tournament as of now, while Maryland is one of the “First Four Out.”
CBS: 1 Seed, vs. Texas State
Jerry Palm still has the Buckeyes playing Texas State, unlike Lunardi. But like Lunardi, he has Ohio State as the last No. 1 seed.
Florida St replaces Mizzou in the top 16 of todays bracket https://t.co/8YVoUfj23A— Jerry Palm (@jppalmCBS) February 15, 2021
What is noteworthy is the next projection: if Ohio State beats Texas State, the Buckeyes would be slated to play the winner of a game between Xavier and UCLA.
Of course, Xavier and Ohio State had one of the most dramatic games in NCAA Tournament history back in 2007, when Xavier's Justin Cage missed a free throw, Ron Lewis hit a game-tying three-pointer with two seconds remaining and Ohio State went on to win the game in overtime.
The Buckeyes also played UCLA earlier this year in the CBS Sports Classic, knocking off the Bruins 77-70 in Cleveland. Chris Holtmann is 3-0 against Mick Cronin in his Ohio State tenure.
SBNation: 1 Seed, vs. Cleveland State
SBNation's Chris Dobbertean also moves the Buckeyes up to a No. 1 seed for the first time, and has them taking on in-state foe Cleveland State.
For todays edition of @sbnation bracketology, I took a quick look at how the Selection Committees Saturday bracket preview affected the pictureand how the weekends action led to some adjustments. https://t.co/J09dvlPn3Z pic.twitter.com/Cdqt3fqpdV— Chris Dobbertean (@ChrisDobbertean) February 16, 2021
If these predictions came true, they would certainly be interesting.
Cleveland State, as an in-state team, would certainly have a ton of motivation to take down the big, bad Buckeyes. The Vikings haven't made the NCAA Tournament since 2008-09, when they upset No. 4 seeded Wake Forest before losing to Arizona in the second round.
If Ohio State was to hold off Cleveland State, Dobbertean projects the Buckeyes playing the winner of a game between Oklahoma State (whose tournament status is still up in the air) and Indiana, a team Ohio State just beat on Saturday but who would certainly like another crack at the Buckeyes.
USA TODAY: 1 Seed, vs. South Dakota
Dobbertean projected the Buckeyes taking on South Dakota last week, but that distinction this week belongs to USA TODAY's Shelby Mast.
The Coyotes are currently in first place in the Summit League with a 9-1 conference record (11-7 overall) under third-year head coach Todd Lee.
South Dakota's two out-of-conference wins are against South Dakota State in the “Dakota Classic” and a 40-point win over NAIA Mount Marty. Its losses include a seven-point defeat against Big Ten bottom-feeder Nebraska.
If Ohio State was to take care of South Dakota as expected, Mast has the Buckeyes moving on to face the winner of a game between Colorado and LSU.