NCAA Tournament: Ohio State Buckeyes Fail To Make The NIT [Opinion]

There will be no NCAA postseason for the Ohio State Buckeyes men’s basketball program this year, with the Buckeyes failing to qualify for not only the main Division I NCAA tournament, but also the National Invitation Tournament, better known as the NIT.

The Buckeyes can’t blame anyone for their postseason failures because they underachieved all season long, and it showed during not just the regular season, but during the Big Ten Tournament this past week.

Many in the Columbus, state, and national media let it be known all season long how poorly the Ohio State Buckeyes played on the basketball court this past season. They finished the regular season at 17-15, then lost in the Big Ten Tournament opening round to Rutgers, who were the last-place regular-season team in the Big Ten standings with a 3-15 record. Ohio State was 7-11 in the Big Ten conference this season.

Ohio State not making the NIT is a bit of a surprise, but as Bill Landis of the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote, Ohio State head coach Thad Matta doesn’t have to make a decision on whether to play in the NIT or not anymore.

“Thad Matta said after Ohio State basketball was bounced from the Big Ten Tournament by Rutgers that he wasn’t sure if the Buckeyes would accept a bid to the National Invitation Tournament. Turns out he didn’t need to make a decision.”

Who can blame the NIT for not handing the Buckeyes an invitation to their tournament? If we are being honest here, Ohio State, following their game against Rutgers, looked like a team that was finished anyway.

Ohio State did have a couple of nice wins this season when they were able to defeat Wisconsin and Michigan State in regular season Big Ten play, but they ended the regular season with a loss to Indiana and lost five of their last seven overall games, including the Big Ten Tournament loss to Rutgers by a 66-57 score. Ohio State, for the season, averaged 72.8 points per game (183rd nationally) and allowed 69.8 ppg (tied for 111th nationally).

Others in the media said this is a “new low” for the Ohio State men’s basketball program, including the Land of 10, as senior Ben Axelrod had this to say about the Ohio State snub of not making the NIT.

“Ohio State likely needs to make next year’s NCAA Tournament to avoid major changes…”

It is tough to put all of this on Ohio State head coach Thad Matta, as he brought the Ohio State basketball program to very high heights, but as Axelrod wrote, this is in fact a “new low” for the program as well. Whether or not to bring back Matta is a moot point this season because he’s not going to lose his job this offseason.

Matta and the Ohio State Buckeyes have gotten off track of bringing in players who not only have high talent levels, like Greg Oden, D’Angelo Russell, or Mike Conley, Jr., but who also want to play hard each and every game. Losing to Rutgers in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament is pretty embarrassing for a program like Ohio State. What is even worse is the fact they haven’t played in the NCAA Tournament for the past two years now, and nothing they’ve done this season gives the program any hope for next year, either.

Ohio State should be held to a higher standard than what they have achieved the past two seasons. They have some of the top facilities, world-class medical staffs, and a head coach who has coached his team to Final Fours. Ohio State needs to hit the reset button right now, because missing the NIT is a reality check that means something needs fixed, and fixed not today, but yesterday.

Maybe Ohio State will take the missed opportunity of being shunned by the NIT as a chip on their shoulder for next season, because they didn’t play with much motivation this past season, especially in their final game in the Big Ten Tournament.

[Featured Image by Stacy Revere/Getty Images]