The Chris Holtmann-led Ohio State Buckeyes aren’t quite used to struggles or valleys. Since Holtmann arrived in Columbus in June 2017, the scarlet and gray have overachieved and completely outplayed any and all expectations.
This season was the same way—up until the last three games. Currently on a three-game losing streak, Ohio State is not ranked in the latest AP Poll for the first time since mid-November (the second week of the season.) While their loss at home to Michigan State was somewhat expected, it was their losses at Rutgers and against Iowa that cost the Buckeyes big time.
Ohio State is left searching for answers. Whether it’s on offense, defense, or leadership, Holtmann and his team are struggling quite a bit and need to improve sooner rather than later before things get out of hand. Maybe no longer being ranked will be the wake-up call they need.
Although the Buckeyes are now unranked, there are five Big Ten teams that are ranked: No. 2 Michigan, No. 6 Michigan State, No. 19 Maryland, No. 23 Iowa, and No. 25 Indiana. With their win over Ohio State this past weekend, the Hawkeyes went from unranked (had the 26th-most points), to barely in the top 25 this week.
The top five teams remained unchanged with Duke (36 first-place votes) leading the way, followed by Michigan (nine), Tennessee (13), Virginia (six), and Gonzaga. The Blue Devils seem to be in a class of their own, but considering the Wolverines are undefeated (coupled with Duke’s Monday night loss to Syracuse at home), they could be No. 1. With Medina, Ohio native Jon Teske leading the charge in the middle, Michigan has one of the best defenses in the country, which is what they lean on. Kentucky (climbed six spots to No. 12), Marquette (six spots to No. 15), Ole Miss (eight spots to No. 18), and Maryland (seven spots to No. 19) rose the most in this week’s poll.
Specific to the Buckeyes, there’s no need to panic quite yet. But in a very tough Big Ten conference, the Buckeyes can’t afford to fall behind much even they want to finish as one of the best teams in the conference, essentially locking up a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Luckily, Ohio State still has plenty of time to turn things around, but their tough Big Ten schedule essentially gives them zero breaks. You can say that the conference schedule will get the Buckeyes ready for when it matters most, but it can also lead to Ohio State showing its true colors this season as well. Only time will tell.