Sunday night the 25th-ranked Buckeyes learned they are the No. 6 seed in the New Orleans region, a designation that earns them the right to face No. 11 Florida State at 10:30 ET on ESPN2 next Saturday at the Wells Fargo Arena at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines.
The cornfields of the heartland are not exactly the sunny beaches of California, where fourth-seeded Ohio State went down to defeat against No. 13 Marist in the opening round one season ago, but the Buckeyes will take what they can get at this point after having not reached the Sweet 16 since 2005.
"We're excited to be in Big Ten country so we're kind of familiar with that region," senior guard Marscilla Packer said. "I don't think there are too many great expectations like there have been in the past so we're just ready to play.
"We've had a couple weeks to prepare, going back to the basics like we did at the beginning of the season. I just think we really are concentrating a lot more. Our level has to rise and I think we've been doing that a lot more."
Three reasons potentially exist to foster belief that the Buckeyes can go farther than they have in recent years and erase the bitter taste of a first-round exit from the Big Ten tournament last weekend.
Little (knee) and Trebilcock (back) both played but struggled in the March 7 loss to Illinois, and both said they are feeling better after a long period of rest, though neither is 100 percent.
Allen, meanwhile, has been out since the start of the New Year – missing 18 games in all – for academic reasons.
However, she was allowed to practice with the team all along, and head coach Jim Foster said his habit of mixing and matching lineups during practice meant Allen did not practice any less with the regulars than she would have if she had been eligible.
"The fact that she practiced every day and is in much better shape than she was when she became ineligible is a good thing," Foster said. "We mix up our lineup every so she's been playing with different players on a regular basis. It just gives us a very talented player to throw into the mix."
Every player and their coach expressed confidence going forward.
"We've had a full complement of players practicing," Foster said. "We'll tone it down a little bit, but I thought we had a great week of practice last week. I like us right now. I like the feel in the gym."
Both the Buckeyes (22-8) and Seminoles (18-13) earned at-large berths, but while Ohio State was a regular season co-champion of the Big Ten, Florida State in a three-way tie for fifth place in the ACC.