No. 2 seed Ohio State to face Oral Roberts in NCAA Tournament

Adam Jardy
Buckeye Xtra

INDIANAPOLIS – Moments after falling in the Big Ten tournament title game, Ohio State was awarded a No. 2 seed in the South Region of the NCAA Tournament.

The brackets were unveiled as Illinois was simultaneously celebrating its hard-fought Big Ten tournament title after a 91-88 overtime win against Ohio State at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Buckeyes will face No. 15 seed Oral Roberts on Friday at 3 p.m. at Purdue's Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Indiana. The game will be broadcast on CBS.

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According to the official seed list, the Buckeyes finished as the second-best No. 2 seed.

"I love this group," coach Chris Holtmann said. "I absolutely love this group. I just, I love ‘em. Our coaching staff loves them. I can’t wait to get back to work with them. I’m excited about the next opportunity we get a chance to do this again, I really am."

Not surprisingly, given the quick turnaround, neither Holtmann nor senior guard CJ Walker had many specific thoughts on the Golden Eagles, who finished 16-10 and won the Summit League conference tournament.

Of those 16 wins, three of them came against non-Division I competition. None of them came against top-100 teams according to KenPom.com.

Sophomore guard Max Abmas leads the nation in scoring at 24.2 points per game. He's a 6-1, 165-pound guard who shoots 43.3% from three and 48.4% from the floor.

Should the Buckeyes advance, they will get the winner of a game between No. 7 seed Florida and No. 10 seed Virginia Tech. Baylor is the No. 1 seed in their bracket.

The seed is Ohio State’s highest since it earned a No. 2 seed in the 2013 tournament, when the Buckeyes reached the Elite Eight before falling to No. 9 seed Wichita State, 70-66, in Los Angeles. The announcement came one year and two days after the 2020 postseason was canceled in its entirety due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a development that transpired as Ohio State was in Indianapolis awaiting its second-round Big Ten tournament game with Purdue.

Ohio State's Duane Washington Jr. (4), E.J. Liddell (32) and Musa Jallow (2) celebrate after a 68-67 win over Michigan in an NCAA college basketball game at the Big Ten Conference tournament in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Since then, the Buckeyes are 3-4 in the NCAA Tournament and have not advanced beyond the opening weekend.

Following Ohio State’s game against Illinois, the Buckeyes were to return to their hotel in downtown Indianapolis and begin NCAA Tournament testing protocols. Upon arrival at the hotel where they’ve been staying since arriving in town Wednesday, they would be broken into small groups, administered PCR tests and sent to their individual rooms for the night.

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The next morning, presuming negative tests, they would again undergo a PCR test. A negative result there would allow them to begin practicing and various team-related – but socially distanced – activities. While in the controlled environment of the tournament, players are to adhere to stipulations like eating meals alone in an effort to reduce the risk that a positive test could knock out multiple players due to contact tracing.

Mar 14, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini guard Jacob Grandison (left) is Calle for a foul as Ohio State Buckeyes guard Duane Washington Jr. (4) drives to the basket against Illinois Fighting Illini guard Trent Frazier (right) in the first half at Lucas Oil Stadium.

A run of five straight NCAA Tournament appearances came to an end in 2016, and the Buckeyes would miss the tournament the following year as well before Holtmann was hired during the summer of 2017. That year, Ohio State earned a No. 5 seed, beat No. 12 seed South Dakota State in an opening-round game in Boise, Idaho, before falling to No. 4 seed Gonzaga, 90-84.

The next year, Ohio State was among the final at-large selections to the bracket. As a No. 11 seed, the Buckeyes upset No. 6 seed Iowa State in Tulsa, Oklahoma, before losing to No. 3 seed Houston, 74-59. The only current Buckeye who started that game is Musa Jallow.

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The Buckeyes have five active players with NCAA Tournament experience. CJ Walker played 86 minutes in six NCAA Tournament games while at Florida State and scored 21 points, while Jallow has totaled 55 minutes and 17 points in four games for the Buckeyes. Duane Washington has played 20 minutes, scoring six points, in four games while Justin Ahrens played one minute and did not score in one game. Kyle Young, whose status is uncertain after suffering a concussion in Friday’s win against Purdue, has totaled 12 minutes in two appearances but did not score.

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