Ohio State's résumé was enough to override a tough loss.
Despite the Buckeyes falling to Michigan last Sunday in a hard-fought game in Columbus, it hasn't really changed what most journalists think about this team. Ohio State remained No. 4 in yesterday's Associated Press poll, and most bracketology pundits still have the Buckeyes as the last No. 1 seed.
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 exact same draw for Ohio State despite the Buckeyes loss, which speaks more for his admiration of Juwan Howard's Michigan team than anything else.
HEADLINES:— Joe Lunardi (@ESPNLunardi) February 23, 2021
Baylor does not drop off the top line (but falls below Michigan) with a loss.
VCU drops to LAST FOUR IN with a loss to Saint Louis (and Billikens move up to FIRST FOUR OUT).
UConn bumps Colorado State for the final at-large spot with a win at Georgetown. pic.twitter.com/OJhfe8HGdF
As Lunardi notes in the tweet, Baylor would drop below Michigan if they were to lose to Iowa State, West Virginia, or Kansas this week. The Bears have three games coming off a COVID-19 program pause. Lunardi clearly thinks very highly of the Wolverines, and likely feels the same about an Ohio State squad that played them very close down to the very end.
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 have not played since Feb. 14 due to COVID-19 postponing their series against Delaware.
Assuming Ohio State gets past James Madison, Lunardi has them squaring off against the winner of a game between Florida and Oregon.
Also of note from Lunardi: Indiana and Minnesota earn berths as two of the "Last Four In," while Purdue moves up to a No. 5 seed.
CBS: 1 Seed, vs. James Madison
Jerry Palm of CBS also kept the Buckeyes on the No. 1 line this week, and apparently James Madison is a popular matchup for analysts to pick right now.
Ohio St loses a game, but not its seed. https://t.co/S9peOq1592— Jerry Palm (@jppalmCBS) February 22, 2021
Palm's rationale for keeping the Buckeyes as a No. 1 seed was that Ohio State lost to a team that was ranked higher than them, and beat the team that is underneath them (Illinois) on the road. As such, it is enough to keep the Buckeyes on the top line for now.
If Ohio State were to get past James Madison, Palm has them taking on the winner of a game between 14-6 LSU, who features star freshman Cameron Thomas, and UCLA, whom the Buckeyes beat 77-70 earlier in the year in Cleveland. Chris Holtmann is currently 3-0 at Ohio State vs. Mick Cronin.
SBNation: 1 Seed, vs. Monmouth
Despite being pretty low on the Buckeyes compared to the other analysts, Chris Dobbertean keeps the Buckeyes as a No. 1 seed this week, joining Lunardi and Palm.
Unlike the others, however, he has the Buckeyes taking on Monmouth.
Just when you thought Duke was out, the Blue Devils are back in today’s @sbnation bracket projection. Barely. Plus, a busy Big Ten schedule over the next two weeks will shape both the No. 1 seed and cut line pictures. https://t.co/5N58oMzWB6 pic.twitter.com/J1FJ6z9Yqu— Chris Dobbertean (@ChrisDobbertean) February 23, 2021
Monmouth is currently 10-7 (10-6 MAAC) and does not appear to represent a significant threat to the Buckeyes. If Ohio State were to win that game as expected, Dobbertean has them playing the winner of a game between BYU and a surging North Carolina team.
USA TODAY: 2 Seed, vs. UMBC
Shelby Mast's headline is "Can Ohio State hold off Illinois for the last No. 1 seed?" and then he proceeds to rank both Ohio State and Illinois as No. 2 seeds, behind a Villanova team that lost to Creighton last week and beat a middling UConn team by eight at home this week. Okay.
Anyway, if Ohio State were to beat a UMBC team that is known for upsets, they would move on to face the winner of a game between BYU and Arkansas.