Now that the regular-season conference title is out of the way, the Buckeyes are squared on winning this weekend’s Big Ten Tournament, which could garner them March Madness’ top overall seed.
But a lot can happen during the intense championship week when teams across the country make their final case to hear their names called on Selection Sunday. Ohio State won’t have to worry about whether its name will be called, but when.
Jerry Palm of CollegeRPI.com told The Lantern the NCAA Tournament’s No. 1 overall seed is the Buckeyes’ to lose, and other teams in contention will need improbable help in the form of an OSU loss.
“Anyone else who thinks they can (get the No. 1 overall seed),” Palm said, “is going to have to wait until somebody beats Ohio State.”
OSU coach Thad Matta said he enjoys this time of year because he’s been able to learn so much about his team during the conference tournament.
He mentioned that having recent Sunday games followed by quick turnarounds early in the next week has helped the Buckeyes prepare for the NCAA Tournament.
“We (coaches) talk about it, not with the guys,” Matta said. “We haven’t discussed the NCAA Tournament with them, but I’m sure they watched TV.”
Fifth-year senior forward David Lighty is no stranger to basketball in March and is looking for a repeat performance of last year’s Big Ten Tournament, where he earned All-Tournament honors and helped the Buckeyes win the conference title.
“I think if we play like we’ve been playing the last five or six games it’s going to be pretty hard to beat us,” Lighty said. “Like coach said, just going in there and being focused, having our minds right to go in there and attack.”