As No. 5 seed, Ohio State will wait to learn first Big Ten tournament foe

Adam Jardy
Buckeye Xtra
The Ohio State Buckeye bench players cheer after forward Justice Sueing (14) made a three-point shot late in the second half of Wednesday's NCAA Division I basketball game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Value City Arena in Columbus, Oh., on Wednesday, January 13, 2021. Ohio State won the game 81-71.

With a 12-8 record in Big Ten play, the Ohio State men's basketball team will enter the league tournament as a No. 5 seed.

After a Saturday loss to Illinois, the Buckeyes will open the postseason with the second Thursday game this week against a to-be-determined opponent. Ohio State will face the winner of a first-day game between No. 13 seed Minnesota and No. 12 seed Northwestern.

The game will air on the Big Ten Network and will tip off 25 minutes after the conclusion of the game between No. 9 Michigan State and No. 8 Maryland that begins at 11:30 a.m.

"You just focus on the task at hand, improving, growing," coach Chris Holtmann said after Saturday's game when asked about the approach to the postseason. "We’re going to have a really big-time challenge. Take some of the positives that came out of today, and there were definitely some positives out of today. Disappointed, as these guys are, and move forward."

Should the Buckeyes advance, they will earn a Friday rematch with No. 4 seed Purdue. The Boilermakers swept the season series with Ohio State, beating the Buckeyes 67-60 at Mackey Arena on December 16 and then winning at Value City Arena, 67-65, on January 19.

Minnesota won the lone meeting with Ohio State this season, a 77-60 home win against the Buckeyes on January 3. Since then, the Golden Gophers have gone 3-12 and will enter the postseason having lost their last seven games.

Ohio State and Northwestern split the season series. The Wildcats won at home, 71-70, on December 26 before the Buckeyes returned the favor with an 81-71 win at Value City Arena on January 13

Since that win against the Buckeyes moved them to 3-0 in Big Ten play, the Wildcats lost 13 straight games before ending the regular season with a three-game winning streak that included an eight-point win at Minnesota.

Ohio State is 1-2 in the Big Ten tournament under coach Chris Holtmann, a record affected by last year's cancelation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.