Still not convinced Ohio State is No.1? It’s understandable if there are still non-believers. After all, the Big Ten has one all of one NCAA title in the last 20 years. The ACC has eight, the SEC has five, the Big East has three, the Pac-10 two and the Big 12 one. Trust me. A week ago Hoops Scoops wasn't convinced. But Buckeyes have turned us into believers.
The Buckeyes won big at Florida and Florida State and totally dismantled Purdue, 87-64, on Tuesday night. Non-believers will say they haven’t done enough in the non-conference to really warrant top billing. True, neither Florida nor Florida State are top 10 teams. But the Gators have won seven of their last eight, while the Seminoles beat Duke.
More importantly, the Buckeyes might have the best player in the country in freshman forward Jared Sullinger. North Carolina freshman Harrison Barnes and Duke rookie Kyrie Irving got all the publicity early. But the Tar Heels have struggled and no one knows when Irving (foot) will return. Meanwhile, Sullinger has led the Buckeyes to the top.
There’s more to Ohio State than Sullinger. Ohio State has a terrific trio in William Buford, David Lighty and Jon Diebler. They have everything it takes –the offense, defense and the rebounding– to keep things going.
To be fair to the rest of the top teams –Connecticut, Syracuse, San Diego State, Pittsburgh and Kansas– it still remains to be seen if the Buckeyes can maintain this run. As previously stated, the Buckeyes non-conference schedule left much to be desired. While the Big Ten boasts five top 25 teams, the conference doesn’t have many signature wins.
Wisconsin, No.17 in the AP poll, played just one ranked team in non-conference, Notre Dame. The Badgers lost that one, 58-51. No.20 Illinois went 1-3 verse non-conference top 25 teams. That one win was against Gonzaga, which hasn’t been ranked in weeks. Minnesota, ranked 16th, played just one ranked non-conference squad, North Carolina. The Golden Gophers won that game, but the Tar Heels aren’t ranked now. Purdue has been impressive without Robbie Hummel, but it lost its only big non-conference game to West Virginia.
This may seem like a hatchet job on the Big Ten, but facts are facts. Ohio State is without a doubt the real deal. But college basketball junkies will point to a weak showing in the NCAA Tournament and soft non-conference schedules as reason not to believe the Buckeyes are for real.
But there’s a reason they play the games. And until Ohio State gets that first “L” of the season, they are the best.