Buckeyes Drop Out of AP Top 25
By Rob Ogden
Wednesday, Ohio State lost at home to Penn State, something it hadn't done in 16 years. Five days later, the loss pushed the Buckeyes out of the AP poll for the first time in more than four years.
Despite a 59-58 win at Wisconsin Saturday, Ohio State was bumped out of the poll, ending its streak of 80 consecutive weeks ranked in the top 25. It had been the third-longest active streak in the nation behind Duke (130) and Kansas (98), according to the AP.
The Buckeyes last fell out of the top 25 in January of 2010 and remained unranked for two weeks before re-entering the poll after back-to-back wins over ranked opponents. That team, led by Wooden-Award winner Evan Turner, climbed all the back up to No. 5 by the end of the season.
Coach Thad Matta pointed out that a ranking isn't going to help his team in the standings.
"I've never been one to pay a whole lot of attention to it," Matta said about the rankings. "I'd like to be there in the end, but it is what it is. For us, a ranking has never won us a game, especially in the Big Ten. I know that for a fact. Hopefully we can continue on a good, straight road and get back in there."
The Buckeyes fell quickly after a stretch of four-consecutive losses in the Big Ten. The home loss to the Nittany Lions was the knockout punch.
"As competitors you never want to see it happen, and it's the first time it's happened since I've been here," senior guard Aaron Craft said. "We probably deserved this to happen with the way things have happened."
The Buckeyes did remain ranked in the coaches poll – barely. They come in at No. 25.
Michigan State remains the Big Ten's highest-ranked team in the AP poll at No. 9, followed by Michigan at No. 10. Iowa comes in at No. 17.
With losses in five of six games, Wisconsin dropped out of the poll, as well.
Despite only three Big Ten teams in the AP poll, Matta said the parity in the league proves its strength from top to bottom.
"It's probably maybe as challenging as I've ever seen it," Matta said. "Teams are losing at home. The bottom of the league can beat anybody in this league on any given evening."
Scott Didn't Inform Thompson of Intentions
Sam Thompson learned he was going to be thrust into the Buckeyes' starting lineup just hours before the public did.
Shannon Scott, who asked Matta to move Thompson into the lineup in his place, didn't inform his roommate of his request before he spoke to his coach, Thompson said.
"There's always a lot of conversation in the apartment about the team, but that never came up," Thompson said. "But coach Matta told me and the rest of the guys the night before (the Wisconsin game) that Shannon came up to him and told him that I should be starting over him, and that was it."
Thompson played 22 minutes Saturday, which is actually fewer than the 23.6 he has averaged per game this season. He scored just 2 points on 1-of-3 shooting, and now has just six points in his past three games.
"It was a little bit of a different feeling," Thompson said. "I don't know how much my role changed only because our goals are still the same. At the start of that game we still wanted to come out and execute. It definitely felt a little bit different. I can't say whether or not it gave the team a boost. Shannon's a great player so I don't think there's too much of a tradeoff there."
Coming off the bench for the first time this season, Scott scored 9 points on 4-of-8 shooting, his best offensive output since Jan. 7.
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