Bracketology Roundup: Ohio State Falls Off One-Seed Line As Struggles Continue

By David Wertheim on March 2, 2021 at 1:05 pm
Kyle Young and Duane Washington

Ohio State's recent scuffle on the court has hurt their postseason projections.

Chris Holtmann's teams seem to always struggle at some point in the season. Usually, it comes in January. This year, if this trend continues, it will be at the worst time, with just one game remaining before the Big Ten Tournament.

Ohio State has lost three straight games, including two to Top Ten opponents, and their most recent defeat was also the most lopsided, a 73-57 drubbing by Iowa in Columbus.

Holtmann's squad is still a lock to make the 2021 NCAA Tournament, which, for the first time ever, will be played entirely in the state of Indiana.

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: 2 Seed, vs. UMBC

ESPN's bracket guru Joe Lunardi has the Buckeyes flipping places with Illinois this week, moving Ohio State to the top No. 2 seed, playing Ryan Odom's UMBC team. 

The Retrievers are, of course, known for their historic upset over No. 1 seed Virginia back in 2018, when they became the first No. 16 seed to ever defeat a No. 1. 

Most of the players from that team are gone by now, but UMBC still has some fight in them, evidenced by their 14-5 (10-4 America East) record, currently tied with Vermont for first in the conference. They are led by Darnell Rogers, who is averaging 9.6 points per game as a senior despite standing just 5'2. 

If UMBC does end up securing the bid and Ohio State were to beat them as expected, Lunardi would have the Buckeyes moving on to face the winner of a game between Florida and Louisville. 

CBS: 2 Seed, vs. UMBC

It seems to be a popular pick to go with the Buckeyes against the Retrievers, with Lunardi and CBS' Jerry Palm picking that draw this week, while USA TODAY's Shelby Mast had the same draw for Ohio State last week.

The difference between Lunardi and Palm this week comes in the second-round potential, assuming an Ohio State win in round one. Palm has the Buckeyes taking on the winner of a game between BYU and LSU, two drastically different programs that would represent different matchups.

LSU is led by star freshman Cameron Thomas, who is averaging 22.8 points per game, while BYU is led by three seniors, including a familiar face: former Purdue big man Matt Haarms

FOX: 2 Seed, vs. Vermont

While Lunardi and Palm both have UMBC winning the America East, it appears that FOX's Mike DeCourcy is expecting a different outcome, picking the Catamounts to ultimately win their league title and as such, earn a chance to play Ohio State in the first round. 

John Becker has taken Vermont to the NCAA tournament three times in his first nine seasons (and likely would have been a fourth had the tournament been played in 2020), so the Catamounts obviously have the pedigree and experience.

This year, they currently have a 10-4 record overall, as they did not play any non-conference games, unlike UMBC. The winner of the America East tournament, which is scheduled to begin on Friday, will receive the bid. 

If Ohio State were to work past Vermont, they would then be slated to take on the winner of the game between Florida and VCU.

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