OSU pins NCAA hopes on 'body of work'

Adam Jardy
Ohio State's Keyshawn Woods drives against Michigan State's Matt McQuaid in Friday's game in the Big Ten tournament. Woods is hoping the Buckeyes' win over Indiana on Thursday tipped the scales in their favor for an NCAA Tournament spot. [Kiichiro Sato/The Associated Press]

It took a leap of faith and a vote of personal confidence for Keyshawn Woods to end up at Ohio State as a graduate transfer.

After two seasons at Wake Forest, Woods was looking for a program that could get him to the NCAA Tournament for his final season and ensure that his career would end on a high note. In the Buckeyes, he saw a team that desperately needed an experienced guard to shore up its backcourt to have a chance of making it.

So Woods bet on himself. On Sunday, 312 days after signing with Ohio State, he’ll find out if it paid off. With a 19-14 record after a loss to Michigan State on Friday in a Big Ten tournament quarterfinal, the Buckeyes enter Selection Sunday on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament.

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Are they in or out? They’ll find out at 6 p.m. Sunday when the official bracket show airs on CBS (Ch. 10).

“We put ourselves in a great position with the win (against Indiana on Thursday), but we’ve got to see,” Woods said after the loss to the Spartans. “We did the body of work. We’re just going to wait and see.”

With two days to sit and ponder, the Buckeyes and coach Chris Holtmann find themselves in unfamiliar territory. In his three seasons at Butler, Holtmann was never lower than a No. 9 seed and entered Selection Sunday with little doubt it would be in the tournament. For Ohio State, the last time it was truly on the bubble came in the 2007-08 season, when it wound up securing the top seed in the NIT and won that tournament.

That team was 19-13 after the Big Ten tournament. That this season’s team won enough to be considered for the NCAA Tournament is a feat given the talent it lost from last season and the lack of experienced, older players.

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Indiana’s Archie Miller, and then Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, said this week that they thought the Buckeyes are an NCAA Tournament team. Holtmann, too, said after Friday’s loss that he’s not worried about missing out.

“I feel good about (our chances),” he said. “Feel good. I mean, who knows what could happen, but I feel like our body of work has positioned us very well. We’re very excited about what’s coming next for the finish of this team. We’ll be ready for that.”

That body of work includes a 4-10 record in Quadrant 1 games, using the NCAA’s new ranking system to help sift through resumes, with the best win of the season coming in the opener at Cincinnati. All four of Ohio State’s wins in the top category came on the road, likely a boost to their hopes.

As of Saturday afternoon, with conference tournaments winding down, all major bracket projections had Ohio State inside the field of 68 but with the possibility of being selected for a play-in game in Dayton.

Until Sunday night, though, it’s all just guesswork.

“I’m going to be a little nervous, but regardless of where we’re at we’re just going to be excited to keep playing,” junior Andre Wesson said. “I feel like, especially these past few games, we’ve made some really big steps. Hopefully we get a chance to keep going in the NCAA, but if it’s the NIT we’ll still be happy.”


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