The Ohio State Buckeyes have certainly had their struggles on the hardwood over the last few months but with Selection Sunday just 19 days away, it seems as though the scarlet and gray may be getting back on track at just the right time.
After getting throttled at Iowa last Thursday night, losing to the Hawkeyes, 85-76, in a game that seemed like so much more than a nine-point loss, Ohio State got back on track over the weekend, defeating then-No. 7 Maryland, 79-72, in Columbus, to get back in the win column. Following their loss at Iowa, they almost fell out of the ranking again after just a one-week stint, but with their big-time win over the top team in the Big Ten, the Buckeyes jumped two spots to No. 23 in the latest Associated Press Top 25.
Much like he has done during his first two seasons in Columbus and following in the footsteps of Thad Matta, head coach Chris Holtmann is making sure his team is playing their best when it matters most: At the end of the season. The only team with four top-10 wins, the Buckeyes have certainly shown that they can compete with the best, it’s just a matter of doing so on a consistent basis.
Not only do the Buckeyes seem like they are getting back on track, but other Big Ten teams are as well. Considered the best conference in college basketball this season and with a chance to get 10 or 11 (of 14) teams in the NCAA Tournament, the Big Ten has five teams in the top 25, including Ohio State: Maryland (No. 9), Penn State (16), Iowa (18), Michigan (19), and Michigan State (24). Illinois is just outside of the rankings at No. 27.
With then-No. 3 Kansas’ huge win at then-No. 1 Baylor over the weekend, the Jayhawks jumped two spots to No. 1 in this week’s AP Poll, garnering 62 first-place votes. Baylor (two first-place votes), Gonzaga, Dayton, and San Diego State round out the rest of the top five. Like they have been for quite some time so far this season, the Flyers are not only the top-ranked team in Ohio but higher ranked than any Big Ten team as well. It’s been quite a season for Dayton, to say the least.
Nearing the end of the season, Ohio State has just four games remaining in the regular season before the Big Ten tournament tips off, all of which will play a key role not only in their seeding for March Madness but where they will be seeded in the conference tournament as well. Those four games are at Nebraska, vs. No. 19 Michigan, vs. Illinois, and at No. 24 Michigan State, the latter three being big boosts to their resume if they can beat any (or all) of the three.