Buckeyes head into Big Dance with top-10 ranking secured

Pete Nakos6 months
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Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament - Ohio State v Illinois
E.J. Liddell can still return to Ohio State. (Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

COLUMBUS — A week ago, Ohio State was in the midst of a four-game slide.

With the NCAA Tournament closing in, the Buckeyes needed to put their losing streak in their rearview mirror. The Big Ten Tournament provided the opportunity they needed. Ohio State took it, winning three games in four days before falling to Illinois 91-88 on Sunday in the conference championship game.

The Buckeyes now turn their attention to the Big Dance. They’re the No. 2 seed in the South Region and will play No. 15 seed Oral Roberts in the Round of 64.

The Big Ten tournament resurgence moved the Buckeyes up in Monday’s AP Poll, too. Ohio State ranked No. 9 in last week’s poll; this week the Buckeyes sit at No. 7.

“Guys tasted the opportunity to win a championship, and I think it was important for us to play well,” Holtmann said on Sunday. “I did not think we were playing poorly in that closing stretch, large stretches of the Iowa game where I did not think we played well. I thought some of the other games, we were. But we needed to raise our level. I think we did that. There are no guarantees. We’ve got to find a way to continue to do that.

“Every game is a challenge in the tournament. There are no easy ones. So I think it was important for us to play well. Some of the halves were some of the best halves of our season. I think we can build on that.”

Ohio State will start its new journey for a championship on Friday at 3 p.m.

The full AP Poll can be found below.

AP Poll (March 15)

No. 1 Gonzaga (26-0)

No. 2 Baylor (22-2)

No. 3 Illinois (23-6)

No. 4 Michigan (20-4)

No. 5 Alabama (24-6)

No. 6 Houston (24-3)

No. 7 Ohio State (21-9)

No. 8 Iowa (21-8)

No. 9 Texas (19-7)

No. 10 Arkansas (22-6)

No. 11 Oklahoma State (20-8)

No. 12 Kansas (20-8)

No. 13 West Virginia (18-9)

No. 14 Florida State (18-9)

No. 15 Virginia (18-6)

No. 16 San Diego State (23-4)

No. 17 Loyola Chicago (24-4)

No. 18 Villanova (16-6)

No. 19. Creighton (20-8)

No. 20 Purdue (18-9)

No. 21 Texas Tech (17-10)

No. 22 Colorado (22-8)

No. 23 BYU (20-6)

No. 24 Southern California (22-7)

No. 25 Virginia Tech (15-6)

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