Check out final Gallery Hop as Big Ten champion Buckeyes await NCAA tournament bracket announcement
COLUMBUS, Ohio The Buckeyes are back on the practice field Monday afternoon, but they will wrap up their workout around 4:45 in order to be in front of the television by 5:30 for the NCAA tournament selection show live on ESPNews.
For the second time in program history, Ohio State already knows it has a spot in the 48-team field thanks to its Big Ten championship shootout win over Indiana Nov. 11. The Buckeyes are 13-3-5 and had a national rank of No. 4 last week in the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), which is the most-used factor the NCAA looks at when selecting not only the 48 teams, but which 16 teams will bee seeded and thus have a first-round by and second-round home game.
John Bluem, Ohio State head coach…
On the chances of the Buckeyes being a seeded team in the tournament
“We’re hoping to be a team that is seeded. 48 teams start the tournament, so they seed the Top 16 teams and they don’t play a first-round game and get to host a second-round game Nov. 28. Our RPI of fourth in the country indicates we have done enough work against a good enough schedule that we’ll be seeded. That’s where you start. And if you’re a Top 4 seed, you’re guaranteed to play at home until the College Cup in Cary, North Carolina.”
“Once the selections are announced, that’s when the story begins because that’s when you see what you have to do.”
On the Buckeyes allowing only three goals in the last 11 games
“Our team has really matured and played better down the stretch. It’s not just the defense. We do have a fantastic back four, but it starts with the forwards and the work they do with hustling up top and pressuring the ball. The midfielders are all doing their job. And (goalkeeper) Casey Latchem has been so good. When we lost to Northwestern (Sept. 23), we looked at the video and talked about some things and came out to the practice field and worked on organization and discipline and the guys have just accepted it. They have worked very hard at it.”
On if there was a turning point in the season
“Sometimes from losses comes growth. That 4-0 loss to Northwestern and that stretch of games where we didn’t play well, the group really focused after that. We started talking at that time about knockout mentality. How, let’s play right now like if we lose this game, we’re out of the NCAA tournament. That’s a different mentality and you built a certain kind of edge in yourself. Our starting 11 have grown really strong and our depth from the bench has been good and has risen when we have needed them to give us important minutes. That stretch when we went 0-2-1 kind of shook us a little bit. At the beginning of the season we thought we were doing really well and we were nationally ranked, then all of a sudden we got a little bit of a scare. Our seniors, especially our captains, knew that we had to really start playing right now to achieve what we wanted to achieve.”
On the attitude of the team during the layoff between the Big Ten championship and NCAA tournament
“Fortunately I think our leadership has been good and our guys realize that yes, we have had a good season so far, but the moment you think you’re good is when someone steps up and knocks you off. So there has to be that drive and that hunger to be successful and that’s what we’re going to try to fine-tune before we play is to make sure, first of all, we stay grounded. And secondly, we step on the field with a chip on our shoulder.”
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