Ohio State Back in Top 25 Ahead of Challenging Week

Bruce Hooley

The mistakes have already been made and can't be erased, but they could be compounded and weren't, which is reason for optimism and likely why Ohio State is back in the AP Top 25 college basketball poll.

The Buckeyes, out of the Top 25 for a month, are back in -- barely -- at No. 25 after a week in which they defeated both Rutgers and Purdue at home to get to .500 in the Big Ten for the first time all season.

That home sweep by OSU mitigates the damage of losing previous home games to Wisconsin (61-57) and Minnesota (62-59), which is why it required more than half the conference season to get back to break even.

Now that they're there, the Buckeyes (17-8, 7-7) can't exhale or they'll find themselves in another scramble situation like they were after starting league play 1-4 and 2-6.

A 7 p.m. Thursday tip at No. 20 Iowa and a Sunday home game against No. 7 Maryland pose serious threats to a hot streak that's brought five wins in Ohio State's last six games.

We're back to .500 in league play," said OSU's Kyle Young, who scored a career-high 16 in the win over Purdue "Every win, we want to try to celebrate.
Coming out with a win, you want to be happy. Winning is hard."

It's doubly difficult in a 14-team league where only Nebraska and Northwestern have no shot at the NCAA Tournament, although Purdue and Minnesota are hanging on by a thread.

Iowa (18-8, 9-6) would be a great asset on OSU's resume, but the Hawkeyes are a nasty bunch at Carver-Hawkeye, as evidenced by an 18-point win against Maryland earlier this season.

Winning there will require the Buckeyes to minimize turnovers and deal with the inevitable frustrations that come with strange calls and unfriendly crowds on the road.

"Your team has to be able to play through missed shots, even a poor segment of poor play, and just move forward," OSU coach Chris Holtmann said. "That's a toughness thing."

Does the team's recent success make him believe the Buckeyes are able to do that on demand?

"We're better than we were," Holtmann said. "I'm not ready to....We'll see how we are on the road."

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