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Ohio State basketball is back in the AP Poll

The Buckeyes have rejoined the Top 25 after winning five of their last six

NCAA Basketball: Rutgers at Ohio State Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The latest men’s basketball AP Poll was released on Monday afternoon, and Ohio State has rejoined the rankings after winning five of its last six games. The Buckeyes check in at No. 25 after having been unranked since losing to Penn State on Jan. 18. OSU had previously climbed as high as No. 2 in the polls this year following a big win over Kentucky in late December.

It has been a rollercoaster of a season thus far for Ohio State, including some of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. The team began the season 11-1, featuring impressive wins over Villanova, UNC, Penn State and Kentucky. However, everything seemed to come crashing down once the calendar flipped to January, as the Buckeyes would go on to lose six of their next seven games, including a terrible loss to Wisconsin at home and a 24-point defeat at the hands of the Nittany Lions on the road.

Fortunately, the team has been able to string some wins together as of late. After earning victories in absolute must-win games against Northwestern and Indiana, the Bucks picked up a big win on the road at Michigan. They played one of their worst games of the year in another loss to the Badgers, but have since won back-to-back contests against Purdue and Rutgers.

Now at 7-7 in conference play, Ohio State is in a much better standing in the Big Ten — a conference in which all but two teams have six or more losses. Their next two games, however, will provide a huge test, having to go on the road to take on No. 20 Iowa this Thursday before a home game against No. 7 Maryland on Sunday. While they seem to be more or less locked in to an NCAA Tournament spot at this point, a win or two over these next two games could provide a huge boost to their final seeding.

Outside the Buckeyes, Hawkeyes and Terrapins, the only other Big Ten team in this week’s AP Poll is Penn State at No. 9. Michigan State, who was ranked No. 1 preseason, and Michigan both received over 80 votes, but are each still on the outside looking in.

“The first order of business for Ohio State was locking up the record-setting coaches already on hand, and securing [Brian] Hartline for as long as possible had to be a priority.”

- Austin Ward, Lettermen Row

It is tough to perform in a role any better than Brian Hartline has as the wide receivers coach at Ohio State. The Buckeyes’ passing attack for the last two seasons has been phenomenal, and while it has helped to have guys like Dwayne Haskins and Justin Fields out there slinging the rock, the group of wide receivers around them have been incredibly talented and fundamentally sound, thanks in large part to Hartline's coaching prowess.

While his on-field product has obviously been excellent, he has brought that same energy to the recruiting game. After hauling in four top-100 wideouts in the 2020 class, including the nation’s top receiver in Julian Fleming, Hartline was named 247Sports’ national recruiter of the year. The Buckeye assistant has really made a name for himself rapidly in just two years of work. However, as things generally go in college football, Hartline’s meteoric rise to fame is both a good and a bad thing for Ohio State.

Other teams have began to take notice, and Hartline will likely begin to see his share of head coaching offers in the near future. Even NFL teams have an eye on him, with the Philadelphia Eagles having reportedly offered him a spot as their wide receivers coach this offseason. With this being the time of year teams are finalizing contracts among their coaching staff, Ohio State must do whatever it can to keep Hartline happy in Columbus.

Having said that, Hartline has been very outspoken about his love for the state of Ohio and coaching the Buckeyes, and doesn’t seem keen to move on anytime soon. That doesn’t mean OSU can sit back and relax without worry, and there will likely be a salary bump coming in the near future. There have been rumors of Hartline adding the passing game coordinator role to his job description, which would obviously come with a pay raise as well.

We will have to wait and see what Ohio State does in terms of a new contract, but it seems clear that Ryan Day must continue to do whatever it takes to keep the rising star assistant coach happy in Scarlet and Gray for as long as possible.

ESPN released its preseason college football FPI rankings on Monday, and for the second-straight season it was Clemson at the top. Ohio State was right behind them at the No. 2 spot, followed by Oklahoma and Alabama. The Buckeyes are projected to have the No. 2 offense and the No. 6 defense in 2020, despite only returning nine total starters from last season.

The SEC leads all conferences with seven schools in the FPI preseason Top 25, but the Big Ten is right behind them with six. Both conferences have three teams ranked in the top 10, with Penn State and Wisconsin joining the Buckeyes from the B1G. The Big 12 and Pac-12 are tied at the bottom with three teams apiece in the Top 25, with the highest-rated Pac-12 school being USC at No. 13.

Ohio State freshman guard Madison Greene earned her first Big Ten Freshman of the Week award for her role in helping lead the Buckeyes to a pair of victories last week, including a big win over No. 20 Indiana on Sunday.

Greene averaged 23.5 points and five assists while shooting over 68 percent in the two games. In the team’s 23-point win over Minnesota on Friday, Greene put up a team-high 25 points on 8-of-11 shooting while adding seven assists. She was money at the charity stripe, knocking down 9-of-11 at the line. In Sunday’s 80-76 victory over the Hoosiers, Greene again led the team with 22 points while hitting 5-of-8 from the field and knocking down both of her three-point attempts.

The spark came almost out of nowhere, as the freshman was averaging just 6.8 points per game entering the week. Equally as impressive, Greene played a career-high 35 minutes in the two games and committed just a single turnover.

Ohio State women’s hoops is currently riding a five-game win streak, and will look to keep it rolling when they take on Nebraska this Wednesday at Value City Arena. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. EST, and can be viewed on BTN+.

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