Two weeks after they climbed all the way up to No. 2 in the AP Poll, the Ohio State Buckeyes have fallen to No. 11 in this week’s Associated Press Top 25, six spots lower than they were last week. Losing their second straight game and with the Buckeyes suffering their third loss in their last five games after starting the season 9-0, the scarlet and gray continue to fall in the rankings during this skid.
While injuries are a major reason Ohio State is struggling over the past couple weeks, them not being able to find a consistent second option behind Kaleb Wesson shouldn’t go unnoticed. It’s something that head coach Chris Holtmann and company must figure out, especially if they want to compete for a national championship this season. Their defense is elite, but the Buckeyes must improve offensively.
Now No. 11 in the country, this is the lowest Ohio State has been ranked in nearly two months. With their fall in the rankings, the Buckeyes are no longer the highest-ranked team in the Big Ten, with Michigan State climbing to No. 8. Maryland (12), Michigan (19), and Penn State (20) are the other Big Ten teams who are ranked. Iowa is just outside the rankings, coming in at No. 26. For what it’s worth, Wisconsin checks in at No. 31 after upsetting Ohio State in Columbus this past Friday night.
Even with their struggles, the scarlet and gray have already beaten two ranked teams so far this season: No 14 Kentucky and No. 16 Villanova. They have a chance to add to their resume Tuesday night when they travel to Maryland to take on the No. 12 Terrapins. It’s a huge game given that it givens each team an opportunity to add a top-12 win to their respective resume.
As expected, the Buckeyes also fell three spots to No. 11 in ESPN’s power rankings.
Suddenly, Ohio State is in a gut-check stretch of its season. The Buckeyes have dropped three of their last five games after starting the season with nine straight wins, and head on the road to Maryland and Indiana in their next two games. After a home game against Nebraska, they then go back on the road to face Penn State. So what’s going on with Chris Holtmann’s team? Simply put, the offense is struggling to create easy offense. Freshman DJ Carton, who made plays late against Kentucky two weeks ago, has totaled three points, three assists and nine turnovers the past two games. Starting point guard CJ Walker has two assists and five turnovers and scored four points against Wisconsin. The offense is heavily reliant on Kaleb Wesson, but someone else needs to step up.
As far as the KenPom rankings go, the Buckeyes are still No. 4, which certainly says a lot given that they have lost three of their last five games. Their 111.9 adjusted offensive rating is the 11th-best in the country while their 86.5 adjusted defensive rating checks in at No. 6.
Just remember, Ohio State still isn’t fully healthy. If they can remain afloat and get a couple of big wins in the weeks ahead, they will be just fine.