After making their debut at No. 22 in the AP Poll two weeks ago and jumping up to No. 13, for the first time all season, the Ohio State Buckeyes have fallen in the latest AP Poll after getting upset by the Penn State Nittany Lions in Columbus last Thursday. The scarlet and gray dropped to No. 17 in Monday’s AP Top 25.
Following their first loss in nine games, it will be interesting to see how the Buckeyes bounce back. It seems as though head coach Chris Holtmann will not only not keep his team feeling down, but will keep them focused on the road ahead as well. Four of their final eight games are in Columbus, so Ohio State cannot lose focus going forward. Luckily, their next two game are at home.
The Buckeyes are one of four ranked Big Ten teams, two of which are in the Top 5. Purdue (No. 3), Michigan State (No. 5), and Michigan (No. 24) all made it into the AP Top 25. The Boilermakers received one (of 55) first-place votes too, with Villanova (47) and Virginia (17) receiving the others. Ohio State is also one of two ranked Ohio teams, with Xavier (No. 6) and Cincinnati (No. 8) checking in as well.
At 18-5 overall and 9-1 in the Big Ten, the Buckeyes currently have the second-best conference record. They are one game behind Purdue (21-2, 10-0) and one game ahead of Michigan State (20-3, 8-2).The race to finish atop the Big Ten heading into the conference tournament will be a tight one, especially with Ohio State set to make a trip to West Lafayette to take on the Boilermakers a week from Wednesday.
Even with their loss to the Nittany Lions last Thursday, the scarlet and gray still checked in as the No. 3-seed in the East bracket in Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology on ESPN. With North Carolina’s loss to in-state rival NC State, the Tar Heels fell from the No. 2-seed to No. 4 in the same bracket, with Auburn moving up to the two-seed. Considering the other No. 2-seeds,1 if the tournament were to start today, I would love Ohio State’s draw.
With just a few weeks left in the regular season, the Buckeyes have already exceeded expectations, but they can’t let up. They not only want to get a bid into the NCAA Tournament, but they want to make some noise in March as well. If they continue to remain focused and win, they should sit themselves up quite well not only in the Big Ten Tournament, but in March Madness as too.
They may have slipped in the AP Top 25 for the first time this season, but it’s amazing what Holtmann’s squad has done so far this season.
- Duke, Michigan State, and Xavier [↩]