Ohio State is a football school, there is no doubt about that. However, in 2019, it looked like the basketball team would shine as well. The team started with a 9-0 record, with a huge win over #7 North Carolina. After the first loss to Minnesota, Ohio St. beat #15 Kentucky. The Buckeyes managed to be ranked as high as #2 in the nation, the highest for the Buckeyes since the 2011-12 season, when the Buckeyes went to the Final Four.
The excitement on campus was palpable.
Ohio State has since gone 1-6 after their win over Kentucky and there are a few reasons why the season has not turned out the way that the Buckeyes wanted it to.
One of the major problems is that Ohio State’s big wins weren’t as strong as they appeared to be. The “coming out party” for the Buckeyes was a 74-49 blowout of #7 North Carolina and it was followed up with a 71-65 win over #6 Kentucky just 17 days later. North Carolina has gone 3-8 since the loss to Ohio State, including losses to Wofford and Georgia Tech. Kentucky is still a top-15 opponent but has bad losses to South Carolina and Evansville.
Another problem for Ohio St. has been scoring droughts that have cost the Buckeyes games. In the game against #22 West Virginia, the Buckeyes had two droughts of 3:30+, this led to the Buckeyes losing a game they had led by seven at halftime. In the game against Wisconsin, Ohio St. went scoreless for over five minutes. Wisconsin was unable to take advantage, just scoring four points in the time, but had Ohio St. been able take advantage they could have put away the Badgers. Instead, the Buckeyes lost by four. In the game against Maryland, the Buckeyes had their third-straight game with at least a 3:30 scoring drought. The Buckeyes had been hanging around in the second half, but the drought ended any chance of a comeback as the Buckeyes lost by 12.
The last problem for the Buckeyes has been that they don’t have a consistent game in game out scorer. Kaleb Wesson leads the team with 14 points per game. Wesson had a 28 point game against Penn State and scored 22 against Wisconsin, but also had just two against Minnesota and has failed to shoot at least 40% in eight of the 19 games this season.
Ohio State has the talent to make a late season run to sneak in to the Big Dance, but it will take Kaleb Wesson getting hot and winning some big games. The Big 10 is the premier conference in basketball in 2019-20 and Ohio St. has five games against teams in the AP Top 25. The conference tournament winner will always get in the tournament, so it is important for the Buckeyes to make it to at least 10th to get a first round bye for the tournament. It will be very difficult to make a late run, but if Ohio State can regain their early season form, they can be a team to watch in March.