PISCATAWAY, N.J. — After the Ohio State men's basketball team put itself in the national consciousness with a convincing win against No. 1 Michigan State on Jan. 7, coach Chris Holtmann addressed something with his players.
Facing the possibility of being ranked in the Associated Press poll for the first time in three years, Holtmann told them that outside perception was likely to change.
“There’s a lot left to be played, but we will talk about the fact that we’re going to have some people that are going to play with a different edge, probably,” he said after Sunday’s win at Rutgers. “That doesn’t matter. We’ll see if we’re good enough to manage that.”
It took one week longer than expected, but the Buckeyes have finally gotten there, entering the AP poll Monday at No. 22.
When Ohio State plays at Northwestern on Wednesday night, it will do so as a ranked team for the first time since a March 8, 2015, game against Wisconsin. That team was ranked No. 23 and eventually reached the NCAA Tournament before falling in the second round.
After receiving 29 points in last week’s poll to finish 29th, Ohio State received 276 points in the poll and finished one spot ahead of Michigan. Also from the Big Ten, Purdue is No. 3 and Michigan State is No. 9.
These are the only two weeks all season that the Buckeyes have received any votes.
Ohio State had played 90 straight games as an unranked team, the program’s longest since a 101-game stretch that started Nov. 25, 2002 and ended Dec. 17, 2005, encompassing the end of Jim O’Brien’s tenure and the start of Thad Matta’s 13 seasons as coach.
In Joe Lunardi’s updated NCAA Tournament projections this morning for ESPN, Ohio State is listed as a No. 6 seed with a first-round opponent of No. 11 seed Boise State in Nashville, Tennessee. The winner of that game would face the winner of No. 3 Xavier and No. 14 William & Mary. The Buckeyes faced both teams this season — the Musketeers in a closed preseason scrimmage and the Tribe in a non-conference game.
Ohio State has now won five straight and 10 of its last 11. The Buckeyes are 3-3 against top-50 teams according to ESPN’s daily updated RPI rankings and have just one loss outside of the top 50: an 86-59 loss to Gonzaga, now ranked No. 58 in the RPI, in the PK80 Invitational in Portland. Ohio State is ranked No. 24 in the RPI and No. 16 according to KenPom.com.
At 15-4 overall and 6-0 in the Big Ten, the Buckeyes are tied with Purdue atop the conference standings.
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