The Ohio State women’s basketball team didn’t play a marquee opponent in the second week of the NCAA season. After a closer-than-expected result against the Ohio University Bobcats and blowing out McNeese State, the Buckeyes moved higher up the weekly Associated Press poll. The Scarlet and Gray are now the No. 4 ranked team in the country.
Last week’s poll made sense. Head coach Kevin McGuff’s side beat the No. 5 Tennessee Volunteers to open the season and followed it up with a double-digit victory over ACC’s Boston College. It sent Ohio State from the No. 14 team in the nation up to eighth.
This week though, the Buckeyes struggled, hitting only 30 of their 79 shots attempted against the Bobcats. Sure, it was still a 30-point victory but part of watching college sports is winning and winning big in hopes that voters don’t see flaws in your game.
Ohio State’s climb is part of doing what’s expected of them and probably a larger part of other teams having slip-ups. There are two large reasons why the Buckeyes had such a stark move after week two, and it's due to losses by the Louisville Cardinals and Big Ten favorites, the Iowa Hawkeyes.
On Saturday, Nov. 19, the Cardinals lost to an unranked Gonzaga Bulldogs team in overtime, 79-67. Although they came back in a big way Sunday to defeat No. 3 Texas.
For the Hawkeyes, it was a defeat at the hands of the Kansas State Wildcats, who were down seven halfway through the fourth quarter. Making matters worse for Iowa, superstar guard Caitlin Clark sustained an ankle injury that put her availability day-to-day. With that injury, Clark hit 33 points against Belmont University Sunday to put the Hawkeyes back in the win column.
Because of those defeats, Louisville now sits at No. 10, and Iowa at No. 9. The Louisville drop especially grabs attention as Ohio State travels to face the Cardinals on Nov. 30, giving extra fuel to a Louisville team that’s changing over a roster after losing players last season, but is still a perennial force in college basketball.
While the Buckeyes' jump was impressive, it wasn’t the best in the conference. Joining the AP Top 10 are the Indiana Hoosiers. Indiana played three games in the week, winning them all by double-digits, but the biggest was their Monday game against the University of Tennessee.
The Vols again lost to a Big Ten school when the Hoosiers outplayed Tennessee for four quarters, on their way to a 79-67 victory. Sunday, Tennessee also lost to the then-unranked UCLA Bruins 80-63. AP voters moved the Vols all the way down to No. 23 as the preseason No. 5 team struggles to find an identity.
Ohio State has two games this week, both expected to be one-sided for McGuff’s side. Wednesday, they face in-state Wright State University and end the week playing North Alabama. They’re the final two tune-up games before the Cardinals end the month, Big Ten play starts in December, and a trip to San Diego on Dec. 20 and 21 for the San Diego Invitational.
The four-team invitational starts with the University of Southern Florida Bulls and either the Oregon Ducks or Arkansas Razorbacks.