Gulp. Please, no. One or two more wins and Ohio State men’s basketball gets to face either Alabama or Clemson in the playoff and … er, wait a second.

That is how some of you think. You hope the Buckeyes miss the NCAA Tournament because you do not want to face the embarrassment of a potential blowout.

Davidson beat you by how many in the first round? Hahaha.

Stop it. Ohio State fans who want their team to miss the Big Dance out of fear of failure need to get a grip. You are the same ones who would rather win the Fiesta Bowl than lose in the College Football Playoff. Bah. Go big or go home. College basketball is about making the NCAA Tournament. Period.

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And please stop rationalizing that it is better to bypass a bumpy NCAA and land softly in the NIT. The NIT is March Sadness, basketball’s equivalent of the Gasparilla Bowl. Phooey. I say NCAA or bust. Hang the results.

Will the Buckeyes go deep into March? Doubtful. They are a DIY project constructed from parts strewn across a sloppy workbench. Try this piece with that one. Nope. How about this one? You end up with something that works — until it doesn’t. But at least you have something to show for the effort.

Coach Chris Holtmann has used duct tape and chicken wire to assemble a team hobbled by missing parts — seven of the nine recruits who would be part of the junior or senior class transferred out since December of 2015 — as well as critical pieces that fell off. Keita Bates-Diop left early for the NBA, Jae’Sean Tate and Kam Williams graduated and Andrew Dakich finished his graduate schooling and is now part of the coaching staff.

Holtmann’s 2018-19 jury-rigged venture worked for a while — a 12-1 start — but Ohio State is 17-9 and the one-time NCAA shoo-in is now sliding around on the bubble.

None of this surprises, which may explain why Holtmann showed out-of-character irritation after the Buckeyes defeated Northwestern 63-49 on Wednesday, a win that kept their NCAA hopes alive but otherwise was nothing special, considering the Wildcats had lost six in a row.

“A guy once told me when I got into coaching, (the media) don’t write about the planes that land,” Holtmann said. “Those are depressing words, but wise words.”

Translated: “I’ve said all along that we might struggle, so why keep talking and writing about it?”

Why? Because NCAA Tournament bracketology owns a ravenous appetite that can only be satisfied by gorging on office pools, Charles Barkley’s turrible commentary and “One Shining Moment.”

It’s all about being part of the party. Every season begins with fans asking, “Are we good enough to make the tournament? And if so how far can we advance?”

Watching the Buckeyes, the eyes see a team not deserving of a spot among the NCAA field. But deserve has little to do with it. Fairness is arbitrary. Does a team with a losing record deserve to make the field just because it wins its conference tournament? Yes and no both are correct.

Anyway, who cares about the eyeball test? The in-or-out decision comes down to analytics, and Ohio State moved up to No. 42 in the NCAA’s NET rankings after Wednesday’s win at Value City Arena. Dispatch beat writer Adam Jardy thinks the Buckeyes need only defeat Northwestern again on March 6 in Evanston to earn an NCAA bid, or if they don’t then upset one or more of the four ranked teams left on the schedule.

From there, who knows? Well, OK, we know, but just making the tournament is a win. No matter when you lose.

roller@dispatch.com

@rollerCD