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Ohio State's Path to the Final Four

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David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

So, who's in this region anyways?

Here's what the West looks like:

As you can see, Ohio State is not exactly highly seeded, and this region isn't exactly a 'fun' region. According to FiveThirtyEight, this region has a 20% chance for it's top four seeds to win the whole tournament, which is pretty good odds considering they also have Kentucky at 40%+. As many of our other esteemed writers have pointed out, the path for B1G teams to get to the championship aren't exactly easy. Still, let's take a look at it anyways. Fun stuff, right?

First Round: Virginia Commonwealth University Rams

So Ohio State has that fun 7/10 game as the underdog against the VCU Rams coached by Shaka Smart. The Rams come in having just won the A10 conference title after rocking a four game streak through Fordham, Richmond, Davidson, and Dayton. The Davidson game was arguably most impressive as Davidson isn't exactly a pushover... and they won by 20. KenPom has the Rams ranked 30th overall with a fairly good defense and an okay offense.

All that said, I'm thinking Ohio State can win this game. KenPom, FiveThirtyEight, and intuition argue that this is one of those 'upsets' that isn't so much an upset than a game in which the team with more raw talent wins out. Matta is a hell of a coach too, which means he can match wits with a guy like Smart. OSU can survive round one.

Second Round: Arizona Wildcats, probably

Yay B1G teams playing trendy Final Four picks in the second round! Look, Arizona is really good and got stuck with a two seed because people want to see Kentucky-Duke in the finals. Regardless, what will it take for Ohio State to win this round? Well, it would help if  the 15 seed Texas Southern Tigers did the dirty work and knocked off the Wildcats. I'm not exactly holding my breath. The Arizona defense has been locking teams down to 58.6 PPG and if we adjust for tempo, they are 3rd overall in defense behind just Virginia and Kentucky. Ohio State has a penchant for being Russell and OMGSOMEBODYPLEASEMAKEASHOT which I just don't see working out well againt Arizona. Still, let's say they lock down Arizona a la Oregon State and get into a rock fight. They could presumably win and move on... I wouldn't bet on it, but this piece is dumb if we don't at least get to the Sweet 16. (Note: Ohio State will lose to Arizona if this game happens)

Sweet 16: Baylor Bears, Xavier Musketeers, Ole Miss Rebels, BYU Cougars, or Georgia State Panthers

If Ohio State knocks off Arizona, I'm betting they matchup against Baylor, but who knows. At this point in the exercise, I'm really only familiar with the teams that I've sort of watched on TV and that doesn't include any of these teams. I do know that Baylor likes to shoot threes a lot, so maybe that will happen. So... well, let's just say I can imagine a scenario in which Ohio State beats any of these teams. This, unfortunately, also means they beat Arizona which is still not happening. I just don't see it.

Elite 8: Wisconsin Badgers

Can we talk about the North Carolina Tar Heels for a moment? First off, how in the world are they eligible? Secondly, how did they get a four seed? Aren't they a prime candidate for a five or a six? I guess I assume it's because of the late run in the ACC tournament, but this still seems high for them. Either way, I'm picking the Badgers to the Final Four and will thus ignore the rest of the top half of the West. If Ohio State comes into contact with Wisconsin, I am just going to assume bad things happen for the Buckeyes. In their one matchup this season, Ohio State was blasted by Wisconsin at home 72-48, and while I would expect a rematch to be a bit closer, I'm not sure it could be 14 points closer. This just isn't a good matchup for Matta's team.

So what you're saying is...

Well, as much as I'd like to see Ohio State go far, especially because I really enjoy watching Russell play basketball, I just don't think the Buckeyes will be around for the second weekend, much less the Final Four. It's one thing securing an 'upset' over VCU, but it's an entirely different animal in expecting the Buckeyes to beat Arizona, Baylor, and Wisconsin. It would be a great run, but I just don't buy it. That in mind, if I were a Buckeye fan, I'd probably ignore everything I just wrote and write in OSU to the finals because LOLTHIRDSTRINGQUARTERBACK.