COLUMBUS — The absence of Kaleb Wesson was undeniably felt by Ohio State.
Now it’s his turn to make an impact with his presence.
After an NCAA Tournament invitation seemed close to being locked up after another solid outing by the team’s best player in a win over ranked Iowa two weeks ago, the wheels came off for the Buckeyes when Wesson was suspended for a violation of athletic department policy and missed the last three games of the regular season. Ohio State lost each of them, sinking it into the bubble and what appears now to be a Big Dance eliminator in the first round of the Big Ten tournament on Thursday against Indiana.
So, can the big man who has had his share of conditioning concerns already in his career get back to top speed in time to salvage a bid for the Buckeyes in Chicago?
“I don’t think we can expect too much, I think we have to be careful not to expect too much,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “But obviously it’s nice to have him back.
“[Conditioning] is a concern. I think anytime you have a guy who, if he’s off even a couple days, we’re worried about his conditioning, much less 14 days. Having said that, trust me, he’s done early-morning workouts and afternoon workouts and sometimes twice a day, both conditioning and basketball workouts throughout this stretch.”
The run without Wesson is over now. And even if the Buckeyes try to downplay the expectations, the pressure is going to be squarely on Wesson to jump right back into the mix and deliver against the Hoosiers.
Can Kaleb Wesson handle it? Will Ohio State be able to ride him in another win over Indiana like it did earlier this season on the road? Former Buckeyes standout Terence Dials returned to the Lettermen Row film lab to look at what Wesson did against Indiana in the first meeting, evaluate the matchup and preview a critical game for the program’s NCAA Tournament chances in the latest episode of BuckIQ.
Roll the tape!
Lettermen Row senior writer Austin Ward contributed the editorial content for this post.