2014 NCAA Tournament Might Not Include Ohio State Buckeyes

By Matthew Sturgeon
Ohio State Buckeyes
Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State‘s D.J. Newbill drained a clutch go-ahead jumper with 1.9 seconds remaining in overtime and the Nittany Lions went on to stun Ohio State in Columbus, 71-70. Newbill finished with a game high 25 points. LaQuinton Ross had 16 points and seven boards in the Buckeye defeat. For Penn State, this is a great road win. The Nittany Lions seem to have built a bit of momentum, as they have now won two straight Big 10 games after dropping their first six.

For the Buckeyes, this is a crushing loss and the latest blow to what has proven to be a disastrous stretch. Ohio State has now lost 5-of-6 in Big 10 play after starting the season 15-0 and being ranked as high as No. 3 in the AP Poll. Their offensive woes continue, and the story remains the same.

The Bucks don’t have a go-to-guy, and their offense seems to lack any fluidity. They don’t shoot it particularly well from the outside and have no real threat down low in the post. Ross is a nice player, but I see him more as a complementary piece than a No. 1 option; the same assessment can be made about Lenzelle Smith Jr. And while the Buckeyes are always going to defend at a very high level, you have to have consistent offensive play to win.

Ohio State has gotten so accustomed to having a star that they can go to on every possession. Last year, that guy was DeShaun Thomas, and the prior two seasons, it was Jared Sullinger. They’re struggling now that the scoring has to be done by committee.

And to add on to all of their offensive deficiencies, the schedule only gets tougher after tonight. The Buckeyes have a pair of tough road tests at Wisconsin and Iowa in their next two games, and will be hard pressed to win either of those contests.

Thad Matta‘s team got off to such a promising start this season, but since that 15-0 start, things have gone downhill in a hurry. The Buckeyes could be looking at a 16-7 (3-7 Big 10) record very soon.

With no quality wins, that would put them squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble.

Matthew Sturgeon is a College Basketball writer for RantSports.com. He covers the Big 10 Conference. You can follow him on Twitter @OfficialSturg27

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