TV Schedule: Tuesday, Dec. 8, 8 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
Arena: Value City Arena, Columbus, OH
Line: Ohio State (-12.5)
The Ohio State Buckeyes finally broke their losing streak by defeating the VMI Keydets 89-62, but a win over a team that will likely finish in the bottom half of the Southern Conference should not give Buckeyes’ fans too much confidence that this team has finally turned the corner.
Ohio State have shown flashes of success this season thanks to the play of Marc Loving, who is averaging 17 points per game, but need to show signs of improvement soon if this team wants to make a postseason tournament.
Next up for the Buckeyes is a chance to prove themselves at home against a highly underrated Air Force Falcons team.
The Falcons have begun the season with a respectable 6-2 record, losing both of their games to teams that are now 7-1. Although their stats don’t jump off the page in terms of national rankings, nine players have averaged double-digit minutes this season, making Air Force an extremely deep and dangerous team. If Ohio State shuts down leading scorers Trevor Lyons or Hayden Graham, any number of players could step up into their place.
Even if the Buckeyes turn their season around, I don’t think Ohio State makes the NCAA tournament due to the Big 10 having a plethora of talented middle-of-the-pack teams who should finish the season above OSU in RPI. However, a win over Air Force could look great on this team’s resume in March and lead to a berth in the NIT, something that would be massive in terms of overall development of this young squad.
Expect Ohio State to get it done at home, despite this game being much closer than many predict.
Prediction: Ohio State 75, Air Force 69