Ohio State Basketball: Buckeyes Muscle Out Victory Against Iowa to Advance in Big Ten Tournament

Iowa guard Brock Harding (2) works toward the basket as Ohio State center Felix Okpara left, and guard Taison Chatman (3) defend during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the second round of the Big Ten Conference tournament, Thursday, March 14, 2024, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

The Ohio State basketball team defeated Iowa 90-78 to advance in the Big Ten Tournament and keep its NCAA Tournament hopes alive.

Jake Diebler’s Buckeyes are riding a four-game winning streak and taking on a desperate Iowa Hawkeyes team, who needed to win to keep their hopes alive. They are currently in the next four-out category in several bracketology websites.

Ohio State started the game off on fire, going up 10-2 in the first three minutes behind two Bruce Thornton three-pointers and baskets by Gayle and Mahaffey. Iowa was not going to go down easy as they started hitting three-pointers of their own. The Buckeye freshman made their impact known early when Scotty Middleton was able to hit a three-pointer jumper from the right wing which was then followed by a Devin Royal layup putting the Buckeyes up 17-15 going into the first TV timeout. Bonner, Okpara, and Middleton would score the next twelve for the Bucks as the Ohio State bench finished with 37 points on the evening.

Iowa would not give up as they continued to trade baskets on both ends of the court. Buckeye freshman Taison Chatman missed an open three, but on the next possession would get open in the left corner to get his redemption as he finished with three points in four minutes played. Scotty Middleton would hit his third triple of the night to close the first half, he would finish with eleven on the night along with two huge steals late in the game.

Ohio State picked up where they left off in the first to start the second half, as both the Buckeyes and Hawkeyes traded three-pointers with Battle and Thornton both hitting from deep as Tony Perkins was able to assist sharpshooter Payton Sandfort both times. Jamison Battle would not score in the first half, which is unusual for him. That would motivate him at halftime to erupt for twenty-three second-half points to help the Buckeyes move onto round two of the Big Ten Tournament.

Late defense is what helped Ohio State to victory. Dale Bonner caused two timely steals and saves to get wide-open shots for his teammates. Bruce Thornton and Roddy Gayle Jr were relatively quieter than usual, but both still helped the team majorly.

With this win, Ohio State maintained its chances of receiving a bid into the NCAA Tournament. The rest of the path is not easy, as next up in the path to the Tournament they will face off against one of the hottest and best teams in the country. Illinois has three main guys that are to be worried about, Marcus Dosmak and Terrance Shannon Jr both scored 23 points in the 87-75 Fighting Illini win in Columbus earlier this season. Both teams are way different than they were in January, Ohio State has all the momentum right now while Illinois has lost to Penn State and Purdue in their last six games.

Right now, Ohio State is still listed below the Next Four Out category, which should change before the ball is tipped against Illinois this afternoon. Below is an updated tweet from Joe Lunardi.

The way Ohio State comes out victorious against the Illini will depend on how well they can defend the perimeter. Limiting the product of Shannon and Dosmak while also focusing on another All-Big Ten player Coleman Hawkins in the post are other keys. The Buckeyes could be fatigued, but if the team last year could go on a run, do not be shocked if Team125 could go on their run to strengthen their resume and chances at the big dance.

Ohio State takes on Illinois tonight at 6:30 PM EST/5:30 PM CT on Big Ten Network