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Scarlet Sunrise: Ohio State basketball’s NCAA Tournament fate at stake vs. Indiana

kaleb wesson-ohio state-buckeyes
Kaleb Wesson returns for Ohio State on Thursday. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Scarlet Sunrise

Scarlet Sunrise: Ohio State basketball’s NCAA Tournament fate at stake vs. Indiana

Good morning, Ohio State fans, and welcome to the Scarlet Sunrise! Football will always be our focus, but every day we’ll cover news, notes and analysis from across Buckeyes sports. Join us each morning to get caught up on everything you missed in the world of Ohio State football, recruiting, basketball and more.

Ohio State hoops needs to win

Thousands of miles away from Ohio on Tuesday night, the Buckeyes got a reminder of why their NCAA Tournament fate is currently so precarious. According to most bracket projections, Ohio State basketball currently resides in the field of 68 — but only just. And when St. Mary’s beat Gonzaga to win the WAC tournament, the Gaels became the first bid thieves of the 2019 NCAA Tournament and showed why the Buckeyes won’t be staying on the right side of things without at least one more win.

Each year, a handful of conference tournaments are won by teams that otherwise wouldn’t be in the field instead of by that conference’s teams that are strong enough to pick up an at-large bid. With so many conference tournaments left to be decided, bid thieves still have plenty of opportunities left. As such, Ohio State can’t rely on having other bubble teams also throw away their last chance to impress, especially because the Buckeyes’ first opponent is a bubble team of essentially equal stature. Lose on Thursday afternoon against Indiana, which is primarily listed as one of the first four teams out of the tournament, and the Buckeyes can go ahead and make plans for the NIT.

How much will one win help?

Not to get ahead of ourselves, but what happens if Ohio State hoops does beat Indiana? Will that be enough by itself. Generally, the feeling is yes. In addition to the benefit of dispatching another bubble threat, I think another positive element could be in play. If Ohio State plays well in Kaleb Wesson’s return, I think it makes it much easier for the selection committee to write off the three-game slide during Wesson’s suspension that ended the regular season. After all, the version of Ohio State with Wesson on the floor would be the one playing in the NCAA Tournament.

Terence Dials on Kaleb Wesson

Can Kaleb Wesson handle the task at hand? 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.

WATCH: Terence Dials breaks down Kaleb Wesson’s return

Erasmus Hall pipeline open again?

Brooklyn (N.Y.) Erasmus Hall has sent three players to Ohio State in recent years — H-back Curtis Samuel, defensive back Jahsen Wint and center Matthew Jones. Could a fourth be on the way? The Buckeyes offered William Mohan, a 3-star athlete in the Class of 2020 back in mid-January, and the 6-foot-1, 195-pound standout told Lettermen Row he’s feeling very good about where things are with that relationship.

“I’ve been talking a lot with the Ohio State coaches,” Mohan, who prefers to be called by his nickname, Apache, said. “I talk to [linebackers] coach Al Washington the most.”

Talking to Washington makes the most sense, because Mohan’s most likely position if he chooses Ohio State is the new “bullet” position, a hybrid safety/linebacker. Mohan, New York’s fifth-ranked player in 2020, has obviously spoken to his former teammates about what the Buckeyes are all about.

“They say it’s a great school,” he said. “They love the campus and they feel like they’re at home and they’re comfortable there. They say it’s hard work, but you’ve got to overcome that adversity. The reason I love Ohio State is because my former teammates that went there have been successful. I know they that over there they have a great organization, and I know the environment is amazing.”

For more on Ohio State recruiting, check out Wednesday’s edition of Dotting the ‘Eyes.

Latest Lettermen Live

This week on Lettermen Live presented by Byers Auto, Beanie Wells and Boom Herron join Austin Ward to discuss the first week of Ohio State spring practice. The guys talk about expectations for J.K. Dobbins in 2019 as the featured running back in the Buckeyes offense.

Lettermen Row director of recruiting Jeremy Birmingham joins to break down the latest on the recruiting trail including the commitment of Trey Leroux.

WATCH: Lettermen Live on spring practice, J.K. Dobbins and Ohio State recruiting

Counting down

  • Ohio State hoops vs. Indiana: Today
  • Oho State spring game: 30 days

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Ryan Ginn

Ryan Ginn has covered Ohio State football and recruiting since 2013, having done so previously for Buckeye Sports Bulletin and He is currently a student at Tulane Law School and resides in New Orleans, La.

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