What does the Big10 tournament cancellation mean for Ohio State?

Thursday, the Big10 decided to cancel the remainder of the conference tournament. The tournament was being played in Indianapolis, which is one of the cities that had previously reported a positive test for Coronavirus. The Big10 was joined by the Atlantic 10, SEC and other conferences in canceling tournaments.

Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith said on twitter, “I want to thank (Big 10 Commissioner Kevin Warren) for making the difficult, yet necessary, decision to cancel the men’s tournament. I hope other leaders will follow his choice to protect our student-athletes and staff.

Ohio State, currently ranked #19 in the NCAA, had been scheduled to play Purdue Thursday. The players were in Indianapolis, preparing for the game. The initial impact is on the logistics of getting the players home; the basketball impact is still being determined.

The Buckeyes had an up-and-down regular season, winning their first ten games before losing to Minnesota. They had a big win over Kentucky on December 21st, but then went into a tailspin, losing 4 straight games. They rebounded to go 6-2 down the stretch, good enough for a 21-10 record and an expected spot in the NCAA tournament. A strong tournament run could have moved the Buckeyes to a top seed, but a loss to Purdue could have lowered their credentials in the eyes of the selection committee. Bracket predictors tend to have Ohio State at about a #5 seed in the tournament. If that’s the case, they would start by playing either a 12-seed or one of the winners from the NCAA’s First Four, which is scheduled to be played at University of Dayton Arena.

There are 8 locations possible for the Buckeyes’ first and second round games. The closest would be Cleveland. The most distant would be Spokane, Washington. Both Washington State and the Cleveland area have had confirmed COVID-19 cases, and the NCAA is continuing to evaluate and make possible changes to game locations. The NCAA had already decided to play without fans in some games, and to look at relocating others to smaller arenas. Now, consideration continues as to whether the NCAA will cancel any tournament games.

For the players, a return to campus would largely be a return to an empty campus. The university suspended in-person classes until at least the end of March.

The Buckeyes were led during the season by Kaleb Wesson, who averaged 14 points per game. Wesson was named to the second team All-Big 10 team honor, and has had more eleven double-doubles this season. Wesson, a junior forward, had been even more critical lately, since fellow forward Kyle Young has been hurt. It was unclear whether Young, who injured his ankle in a February win against Maryland, would be able to play in the Big10 tournament. Thursday, players sought to reassure fans. Freshman E.J Liddell, who came of the bench to average nearly 7 points a game, thanked fans and said on twitter, “Whatever happens, I’m blessed I got to play my first year of college basketball in a Buckeyes jersey. Just the beginning!”

The “Selection Sunday” show, when the teams and seeds are schedule to be announce, will be carried by CBS live on Channel 7. The show is scheduled to start at 6p.m. Sunday.

Stay with WHIO and whio.com for continuous updates on the Coronavirus and the impact on events and sports.

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