CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - MARCH 15: Head coach Chris Holtmann of the Ohio State Buckeyes talks to his team during a timeout in the second half against the Michigan State Spartans during the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at the United Center on March 15, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Photo: Dylan Buell/Getty Images
Photo: Dylan Buell/Getty Images

March Madness: Resume complete, Ohio State can only wait to find out NCAA tournament fate

Ohio State is in waiting mode for the weekend after losing 77-70 to Michigan State in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament on Friday. 

The Buckeyes had a chance to solidify their hold on an NCAA tournament bid (not to mention improve their seed), but the Big Ten regular season champion Spartans had too much firepower for the No. 8 seed. 

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Big Ten Player of the Year Cassius Winston scored 18 points for the Spartans while Matt McQuaid added 12, but some of the biggest baskets of the day came from little-used backup point guard Foster Loyer. 

A freshman from Clarkston, Mich., Loyer scored 14 points while making 4 of 5 shots from 3-point range, helping keep the Buckeyes at bay before the Spartans could pull away late. 

Keyshawn Woods led Ohio State with 16 points while Andre Wesson added 14. 

Where does it leave the Buckeyes with roughly 48 hours to go before the 2019 NCAA tournament field is revealed? 

1. A ticket to the Big Dance is likely coming but still not guaranteed. 

According to BracketMatrix.com, Ohio State entered the day generally perceived to be an 11 or 12 seed with a No. 10 not out of the question. 

ESPN’s Joe Lunardi and Jerry Palm of CBS Sports both had OSU as an 11 seed in projections published after the Buckeyes beat Indiana on Thursday (likely bursting the Hoosiers’ bubble). 

OSU is no longer in their last four in, but the Buckeyes are still close enough to it to be nervous. 

Also worth keeping in mind: This season could see some added variance between the bracket experts and the actual selections with the NCAA using the new Net rankings as a guide instead of the RPI. 

2. An early-week trip to Dayton is not out of the question. 

At this point, the Buckeyes may get into the field of 64 without having to play at the First Four in Dayton next Tuesday or Wednesday, but there is still a lot of basketball to play. 

VCU’s Friday afternoon loss in the Atlantic 10 tournament likely means one less at-large bid is available than expected because the Rams should still get in and no one else from the Atlantic 10 was expected to without getting an automatic bid. 

Another at-large bid likely disappears if Buffalo does not win the MAC tournament, Washington or Arizona State don’t win the Pac-12 tournament or the Mountain West is won by someone other than Nevada or Utah State. 

Also still lurking as potential chaos makers as of this writing: West Virginia in the Big 12, Xavier in the Big East, Alabama and Florida in the SEC and Memphis in the American. 

3. The Buckeyes’ two-day stay in Chicago showed why they spent the end of the season scrapping for a tourney spot rather than thinking about a better seed. 

Ohio State played the Spartans tough for about 24 minutes before coming apart, similar to how the two regular-season games played out. 

This one was tied at 40 when Kaleb Wesson was called for a flagrant foul for making contact with the back of McQuaid’s head with his elbow (McQuaid was also assessed a common foul for crowding Wesson on the block). 

McQuaid made a pair of free throws as part of a 10-2 run that gave the Spartans control of the game. 

They led by as many as 21 with 4:21 left before Ohio State outscored them 16-2 in garbage time. 

That performance came one day after the Buckeyes beat Indiana 79-75. Ohio State played some of its best basketball of the season and led the Hoosiers by as many as 20 points late in the second half before having to withstand an Indiana comeback in the final seconds. 

Ohio State looked like a top 20 team at times both days but appeared lost for stretches as well. 

4. They won when Kaleb Wesson had a good game and lost when he did not. 

While Andre Wesson scored in double figures both days, his younger brother Kaleb had sharply contrasting performances. 

The sophomore big man whose three-game suspension for violating an athletics department policy coincided with a three-game losing streak to end the regular season had 17 points and 13 rebounds with three blocked shots and two steals in 34 minutes against the Hoosiers. 

A day later, the younger Wesson was limited to seven points and three rebounds while fouling out in 15 minutes on the floor. 

5. Is there a surprise contributor in their midst? 

Keyshawn Woods led the Buckeyes in scoring both days in Chicago. 

The grad transfer from Wake Forest made 9 of 13 shots against the Hoosiers while grabbing seven rebounds and handing out four assists. 

A day later, Woods scored 16 points on 5-for-8 shooting despite also facing foul trouble in the first half against Michigan State. 

Those were the types of things expected from him when he joined the team last summer, but Woods was inconsistent during the regular season when he averaged 7.7 points and 3.0 rebounds per game. 

If he has suddenly found his game, the Buckeyes could be more dangerous the rest of the way. 

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