No Good Wins, No Bad Losses

With less than two months separating the Buckeyes from Selection Sunday, they sit without a serious blemish or point of praise on their NCAA Tournament resume.

Selection Sunday is still 51 days away, which would appear to be plenty of time for Ohio State to bolster its resume and earn one of 36 at-large spots, assuming the Buckeyes don’t win the Big Ten Tournament.

While that is true to an extent – Ohio State still has 11 regular season games in addition to the conference tournament – the Buckeyes schedule presents few opportunities to impress the selection committee.

Ohio State is 15-5 overall and 4-3 in the conference. To this point, the Buckeyes have avoided a bad loss, but they’re also without a good win.

Looking at RPI, which “may or may not be utilized by each (selection committee) member in any manner they choose,” according to the NCAA’s principals and procedures for establishing the bracket, there is work to be done.

Following their 69-67 road win over Northwestern last night, Ohio State is No. 60 in the RPI, a calculation that takes in to account win-loss record, opponents’ record, opponent opponents’ record, and where the game is played. All five of the Buckeyes losses have come to RPI Top 50 teams, but they are 0-5 against such competition.

The team’s best win according to RPI is their 77-61 home victory over Illinois as the Illini sit at No. 59 in the latest rankings. Using the most updated rankings, the Buckeyes have just four opportunities remaining to earn a win over a Top 50 team.

Two of those chances come in Ohio State’s next two games, home games against Indiana Sunday and Maryland Thursday. Those teams are No. 44 and No. 13 in the RPI, respectively. The Buckeyes will also have opportunities at Michigan State on Feb. 14 (No. 35 RPI) and in their final regular season game when they host Wisconsin on March 8 (No. 9).

There is a chance that Michigan (No. 69) moves into the Top 50 before its Feb. 22 rematch with Ohio State, but considering Caris LaVert is out for the season, that seems unlikely. The seven games remaining on the Buckeyes schedule that aren’t against an RPI Top 50 team come against teams checking in at No. 99 on average.

It appeared that a favorable schedule that featured just one game each against Michigan State, Wisconsin and Maryland was a positive for the Buckeyes entering conference play, but it presents few opportunities to impress the selection committee.

Jerry Palm of CBS updated his projected NCAA Tournament Bracket this morning and has Ohio State among the first four teams to miss the cut. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi views the Buckeyes more favorably as he had Ohio State as a nine seed in the West regional in a bracket that was updated yesterday.

Certainly there is a lot of time before the selection committee is forced to make its decision about the Buckeyes, but the team would benefit greatly from at least splitting their next two home contests and finally earning a quality win.

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