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No. 23 Ohio State’s loss to Penn State puts them in deeper hole

Jan 29, 2014, 9:39 PM EST

Penn State v Ohio State Getty Images

It’s officially time to be worried if you’re an Ohio State fan.

On Wednesday night, the No. 23 Buckeyes lost at home in overtime to Penn State, 71-70. It’s their fifth loss in six games, which has dropped them to 3-5 in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions are better than they get credit for this season, but they aren’t good enough to be winning road games against the best of the Big Ten.

Which brings me to my next point: Ohio State is not one of the best teams in the Big Ten, which we all figured out when they lost four games in a row. But are they an NCAA tournament team?

Hear me out.

Look at Ohio State’s non-conference resume. They won at Marquette, which looked like an awesome win at the time but has turned into just another road win against a likely NIT team. They beat Maryland and Notre Dame, two teams that have yet to be competitive in the ACC this season. Their Big Ten wins right now? Purdue, Nebraska and Illinois.

Here’s the bigger problem: what games will the Buckeyes be able to win the rest of the season? Their next two games are at Wisconsin and at Iowa, two teams that cannot afford to lose another game at home. They get both Michigan and Michigan State at home, but the Wolverines are playing as well as anyone in the country and the Spartans game falls on the last day of the regular season. I don’t think this Buckeye team can beat a healthy Spartan team.

The strength of this Ohio State team was supposed to be their defense.

On Wednesday, they lost a game where they held Penn State’s best player, Tim Frazier, to eight points and six turnovers, held a seven-point lead with three minutes left in regulation and a three-point lead with less than a minute left in overtime.

The Buckeyes have a lot of work to do over the next month.

If their defense isn’t going to buoy them to home wins over the bottom of the league, how many wins are they actually going to be able to get?

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