Ohio State dumped by NIT, Trevor Thompson looks for the exit (again) and more
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Today is Monday, March 13, and it’s time to Wake Up Sloopy.
I didn’t want to go to your party anyway
For much of the last two weeks, the discussion around the Ohio State basketball team has been this: Should the Buckeyes turn down an invitation to the NIT and end their season rather than play a few extra meaningless games?
There were arguments in each direction, but following an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament – when it appeared Ohio State had decided to end its season without telling anyone – it made more sense to just put away this forgettable 2016-17 season.
However, there was still discussion about the NIT, which would announce its tournament selections on Sunday night, following the NCAA Tournament selections. The Buckeyes did not have to turn down the NIT, because – you guessed it – Ohio State did not get invited. For the first time since 2004, the Buckeyes will not participate in any postseason tournament.
According to NIT selection chairman Reggie Minton, the Buckeyes just didn’t do enough to warrant an invitation.
NIT selection committee chair said #Buckeyes didn't have resume worthy of making tournament when matched up with other teams.
— Adam Jardy (@AdamJardy) March 13, 2017
I don’t know if that’s true, because I don’t know what every team in the NIT field accomplished, but I do know that the Buckeyes have more talent than most of the teams in that tournament. I don’t disagree with the decision to not invite them, though. Clearly, the Buckeyes – at just 17-15 – have been mediocre all season and it appeared they’d decline an invite if it came their way, so just not extending one made sense.
Either way, Thad Matta’s streak of 20-win seasons ends at 17 and Ohio State is at a definite and undeniable crossroads with its basketball program.
In theory, the NIT could have provided Ohio State with an opportunity to create some much-needed consistency, especially with a roster that possesses just one senior. String together some wins — as the Buckeyes did when they won the NIT in 2008 under Matta — and perhaps they could have carried that momentum into next season.
The only problem is that Ohio State is past the point where what it could have done this spring would have affected the crossroads the Buckeyes appear to be approaching. Ohio State likely needs to make next year’s NCAA Tournament to avoid major changes — and even that might not be enough. As I wrote earlier this week, the 2017-18 season will be a make-or-break campaign in the Matta era in Columbus.
Get it together, Thad.
NBA evaluation, Take 2 for Trevor Thompson
Speaking of the Buckeyes and expectations and all that jazz, there’s some discussion that – for the second straight year – center Trevor Thompson will be testing the waters of the NBA Draft.
Former Ben Davis standout and Ohio State junior Trevor Thompson will declare for NBA draft, per his family.
— Kyle Neddenriep (@KyleNeddenriep) March 11, 2017
Again: Trevor Thompson will consider NBA options after the season. He's not decided to go pro yet. #Buckeyes
— Adam Jardy (@AdamJardy) March 11, 2017
The League allows – smartly – players to seek evaluation from the NBA and then decide if they’d like to stay in the draft and sign with an agent or return to school. Thompson, a 6-foot-11 redshirt junior out of Indianapolis, did this last year before returning to Ohio State as a much-improved player. Thompson spoke passionately prior to the start of this season about what happened to Ohio State last season and said it wouldn’t happen again.
“It just gave me perspective, how much work it takes, how much work is necessary,” he said. “I knew going into it, my goal was getting better. To learn the process, learn the work that you have to put in. I definitely feel like going through all that stuff has lit a fire in me; it’s made me realize how much work you need to put in.”
For his part, Thompson was, as stated, a much better player when he was able to stay on the floor and out of foul trouble. He averaged 10.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.
It may be a bit of a #hottake, but I think Thompson has the physical tools to be a good NBA player, even though I don’t think he’s ready for that next season. If he opts for professional basketball, I’d imagine a year in the NBA Developmental League could be ahead of him, which is basically the same thing as college ball except he’d get paid. As a young man who has already been through four years of college (he began his career at Virginia Tech), I can absolutely understand the decision feels “right” either way.
UC Irvine ends Buckeyes’ volleyball streak
Ohio State’s attempt at history on the volleyball court has come to an end at the hands of the UC Irvine Anteaters.
After 42 straight victories, the defending national champion and top-ranked Buckeyes fell three sets to none against No. 6 UC Irvine in the friendly confines of St. John Arena.
The Buckeyes had gone 399 days without a loss and will now get back to work defending their title without the mega-pressure of an NCAA record on their shoulders.
• Michigan wins the Big Ten Tournament after a near-plane crash just four days ago
• Iowa is a No. 1 seed … in the NIT
• Le’Veon Bell is going to prom after losing a bet on Twitter
• Where will Illinois turn after firing head basketball coach John Groce?