What Now For Matta’s Buckeyes?

By Jeff Rapp, February 21st, 2015

Thad Matta isn’t often afforded this sort of opportunity to gird up for March Madness but he’s going to take it.

In his 11 years as coach of the Ohio State basketball team, the majority of those seasons the Buckeyes were playing their best basketball in February and in position to contend for the Big Ten title in March. That’s not entirely true this year as Wisconsin appears to be running away with the league title. Plus, OSU is coming off a heartbreaking, last-second loss at Michigan State.

But there is hope for the Buckeyes — who have had a whole week of rest — to finish in the top four of the league standings and once again make some noise in the conference tournament. One of the elements that seems to be holding them back, however, is toughness — at least in the eyes of our panel.

OSU's 11th-year coach is still looking for answers.

OSU’s 11th-year coach is still looking for answers.

The editor made an appearance on 610 WTVN’s “Bucksline” program on Monday, joining host Matt McCoy and longtime basketball analyst — and former Ohio State captain — Tony White. All three seemed to gravitate toward the same refrain, that the Buckeyes are going to need to buckle down and display more mental toughness if they are to hit some of their objectives. They also discussed the burden on freshman star D’Angelo Russell, the shortcomings of the senior class, and the impact of the Marc Loving suspension, among other topics.

Last week, the Buckeyes split a pair of league games as they handled Penn State easily at home but lost on a three-ball by Denzel Valentine on Valentine’s Day. That left OSU at 19-7 overall, 8-5 in the Big Ten and ranked No. 24 in the nation.

Landing win No. 20 of the season and pointing the ship back in the right direction is at stake when Ohio State travels to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan on Sunday (1 p.m. Eastern, CBS). OSU also can secure a sweep of its archrival and put the Wolverines (13-13, 6-8) out of their misery and potentially out of the postseason equation.

That also was discussed on Bucksline.

Here then is the commercial-free replay of that program:

2-16 Basketball Bucksline