Sunday was an interesting day across the Big Ten. Following a shock defeat at the top of the standings, Ohio State women's basketball went into East Lansing, Michigan and beat the Michigan State Spartans 86-71, with a scoreline not representing the one-sidedness of the matchup. Monday, the Buckeyes were rewarded with another jump in the Associated Press’ weekly top 25 poll, moving to No. 2.
At one point, the Buckeyes had a 33-point lead over the Spartans, in a game that featured not one but three scarlet and gray starters sitting for most of the second quarter due to foul trouble. That win, plus a 71-47 win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers lifted Ohio State to its new placement in the polls, but head coach Kevin McGuff’s side had some help too.
The biggest assist came within the Big Ten, when the then No. 2 Iowa Hawkeyes marched into the fourth quarter against the Nebraska Cornhuskers with a 14-point lead, but squandered it with guard Caitlin Clark not making any of her six shots in the final 10 minutes. Those zero points the only time Clark was held scoreless in her four seasons with the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Iowa isn’t the only team ahead of the Buckeyes to lose in the past week. The Colorado Buffaloes beat up on the Oregon Ducks in a 90-57 rout, but followed it up two days later with a defeat to the Oregon State Beavers. The then No. 17 ranked Beavers held the Buffaloes to 59 points in the defeat.
With the Hawkeyes’ defeat, the Hawkeyes move down to No. 4. It's another week where the No. 2 team in the nation lost, going back to then No. 2 UCLA losing following sitting in the spot on Jan. 8. That’s five weeks in a row of No. 2 defeats, putting an ominous feeling around receiving such an honor.
Now the Buckeyes have to carry that burden into its next week of games, which is only a single contest against the same upset-minded Cornhuskers on Feb. 14.
The last time Ohio State reached No. 2 in the rankings was Jan. 23, 2023. After holding it for two weeks, the Buckeyes fell to the Iowa Hawkeyes, Indiana Hoosiers and Purdue Boilermakers, dropping the scarlet and gray down to No. 10.
This is the second time in the history of the program that the Buckeyes earned a No. 2 ranking in consecutive seasons. The last time was the 04-05 and 05-06 seasons under former head coach Jim Foster.
Elsewhere in the conference, the Indiana Hoosiers overcame a double-digit deficit against the Michigan State Spartans on Thursday. Then, on Sunday, faced the Purdue Boilermakers in an in-state rivalry, complete with a record-breaking moment for a Big Ten star. Forward Mackenzie Holmes became the highest scoring player in Indiana women’s basketball history, putting her ahead of Tyra Buss who scored 2,364 points between 2014 and 2018.
The Hoosiers stay put at No. 14.
In the NET Rankings, Iowa continues to sit at No. 5, but the Buckeyes and Hoosiers each moved up. Ohio State moved up one spot to No. 9 while the Hoosiers went from No. 13 to No. 11.
Both Michigan State and Penn State, who lost twice last week, moved down three and one spot, respectively, while Nebraska’s win put the Cornhuskers up four spots.