It’s mid-December and we are multiple major holidays from March Madness, but Ohio State’s early-season success has caught the attention of at least one national writer.

In a post this morning on, former ESPN analyst Andy Katz listed his 36 best teams in the nation based on their results entering Monday. And for the first time all season, the Buckeyes made the cut at No. 35.

“Chris Holtmann’s hardest loss this season was probably losing to Butler in the PK80 after coaching the Bulldogs,” Katz wrote. “The Buckeyes got stung in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge against Clemson but the wins at Wisconsin and over Michigan to start the Big Ten, followed up by a shut down of William & Mary proved this squad may finally be turning under its new staff. Up next is pesky Appalachian State. Looming in two weeks is a game against North Carolina.”

The Buckeyes are 8-3 overall and 2-0 in the Big Ten. They handed Wisconsin its worst-ever defeat in the Kohl Center on Dec. 2, then followed that up two days later with a 20-point comeback win against Michigan. They are ranked a season-best No. 51 according to, where they are now projected to finish the regular season at 20-11 overall and 11-7 in the Big Ten.

Today on the Big Ten coaches’ teleconference, Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann downplayed the significance of being included on the list even after taking over the program in June.

“It’s difficult at this point to press the pause button and look at stuff too much just because you’re constantly aware as a coach that if you’re not growing from day to day and really moment to moment, not only can you get complacent but you’re going to get lapped,” Holtmann said. “You’re going to get passed. Whatever opportunity for growth that you have is going to be lost in that moment.

“I don’t pay attention to anything regarding rankings this time of year. There’s so many different polls. Obviously got a lot of respect for those guys because those people who do those rankings really do pay close attention to college basketball, but it’s so early and there’s so much season left to be played for all of us that I would caution anybody to draw too many conclusions from a pretty small sample size right now, good or bad. There’s plenty of teams right now that have had a rough start that we’ll be saying come January, ‘Wow, that team has really come on.’ ”

His point is well-taken. Postseason predictions right now are little more than fodder for discussion, but it is fair to state that almost nobody figured Ohio State would even be in the conversation at any point this season with so many question marks as Holtmann tries to rebuild a program that has missed out on the tournament in the last two seasons.

“Our challenge will always be how we respond to adversity, because that’s been our Achilles’ heel,” he said. “At least, that’s been my observation here in the recent past. We’ll see. We’ve had some tough moments this year and responded after a couple tough losses in the right way and we’ll have to do that again. So far, we’re growing and our chemistry is a real positive for us right now. Role identification is continuing to be understood.”


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