Monday, the Ohio State women’s basketball team reached another milestone. After already eclipsing their best start in history, they’ve now met their all-time high in the AP Poll, earning the No. 2 ranking in the country.
That new ranking comes a day after previous No. 2 Stanford University lost to unranked University of Southern California. The Trojans beat Stanford 55-46, for their first win over a team ranked No. 2 or higher since 2008.
It was Stanford’s second loss this season after falling to the No. 1 South Carolina Gamecocks in overtime on Nov. 20, 2022. The first loss was understandable, considering the power of the Gamecocks, but the Sunday loss gave the Buckeyes an opening.
Stanford isn’t the only reason for the ranking. The Scarlet & Gray had their part to play in too.
Head coach Kevin McGuff’s side is one of three remaining undefeated teams in the country, alongside South Carolina and the LSU Tigers. Ohio State’s done it with four ranked wins and a fifth win that was close to a ranked victory.
The Buckeyes began the year beating then the No. 5 Tennessee Volunteers and followed it up with convincing wins against the No. 16 Louisville Cardinals, No. 16 Oregon Ducks, No. 14 Michigan Wolverines and a record 17-point second half comeback against the Illinois Fighting Illini a day before they entered the rankings.
Since beating the Illini, the Buckeyes had a bye week but came back to conference play beating the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Nebraska. While Nebraska isn’t ranked, they began the year No. 22, beat a ranked Maryland Terrapins to start Big Ten play and feature a team that could go to their second-straight NCAA Tournament.
Monday’s No. 2 ranking matches the highest spot for the Buckeyes women’s basketball team in their program. On March 13, 2006, Ohio State ended the season in that spot following the NCAA Tournament where the Buckeyes entered as a No. 1 regional seed but lost in the second round to No. 8 Boston College.
This season, the Buckeyes are breaking team records with a blistering full court press and a diverse group of scorers on the offensive side of the ball. The Scarlet & Gray is also doing it without their two starting point guards, making the accomplishment even more special.
Guards Jacy Sheldon (who tied the program record for steals in a game with 11 this season) and Madison Greene each missed substantial time and missed games against ranked opponents.
Sheldon’s foot injury has her week-to-week but Greene’s knee injury has her out for the rest of the season. That means Ohio State’s found ways to win with depth and a veteran team, led by guards Taylor Mikesell, Rikki Harris and forward Rebeka Mikulášiková. Sprinkled into the mix are dynamic underclassmen like forwards Taylor Thierry and Cotie McMahon.
Ohio State’a new ranking puts a larger target on their backs at a turning point in the conference season. After Thursday’s home game against Northwestern, they welcome a ranked Iowa Hawkeyes and travel to a top-10 Indiana Hoosiers team three days later.