In the fall of 2021, the Ohio State Buckeyes entered the season with a surprise No. 17 rank in the AP poll, a weekly metric on how NCAA basketball teams are doing nationally. It was a surprise because the Scarlet and Gray lost multiple starters to the transfer portal and entered their first season back in postseason play after recruiting sanctions. Now, after a season where the Buckeyes shocked the conference with a regular season title, followed by a Sweet Sixteen run in the NCAA Tournament, Ohio State starts another season ranked, this time at No. 14.
Ohio State earned the honor for the third straight season, after a two-year hiatus from receiving AP recognition. After last year’s championship season, the Buckeyes won two NCAA Tournament games against Missouri State and LSU before losing to Big 12 Tournament Champions, the Texas Longhorns, in a close 66-63 defeat.
That run to the third round of March Madness ended the Buckeyes' season in polling at No. 14 with the Associated Press, Ohio State’s second-highest ranking of the season. For one week, the Buckeyes were No. 13 in a year where head coach Kevin McGuff’s side was up and down, at least in polling.
For three weeks during the 2021-22 season, the Buckeyes were outside of the top-25 ranking, after a weak non-conference schedule and early conference losses to the Indiana Hoosiers and Michigan Wolverines.
This season, with non-conference games against two of the teams included in this year’s poll like No. 5 Tennessee and No. 7 Louisville, the Buckeyes have the ability to show their success last season wasn’t a fluke.
Elsewhere in the Big Ten, the regulars are all there. Leading the way are the Iowa Hawkeyes, coming in at No. 4. They’re followed by the Hoosiers at 11, Maryland Terrapins at 17, Nebraska Cornhuskers at 22, and Wolverines at 25. The conference leads all conferences with six teams in the top 25.
Ultimately, the polls don’t matter once the games start on the court, outside of added motivation for underdogs or pressure for higher-ranked sides. How it can affect the Buckeyes is in NCAA Tournament seeding.
Last year, despite winning a co-share of the conference title with guard Caitlin Clark and the Hawkeyes, Ohio State was a six-seed, meaning they traveled to a hostile environment for their first two games. It didn’t impact Ohio State too much, as they beat the LSU Tigers in their home arena, but hosting a game brings the added benefits of less travel and a home-court advantage.
To see the full AP list, click here.