For just over two months the Duke Blue Devils have been on top of the Associated Press Top 25 but on Monday they found themselves looking up at a new number one – the Ohio State Buckeyes.
On Monday the Buckeyes received 49 first place votes, making them just the second team this season to hold the No. 1 spot in college basketball. The Blue Devils were knocked from their thrown after a loss to Florida State on Wednesday and now they sit at No. 5, as Kansas, Syracuse and Pittsburgh each advanced a spot to take the second, third and fourth positions in the poll. Though it might not be too long before Duke is right back on top or perhaps breathing down the Buckeyes neck.
The Buckeyes sit at No. 1 for just the third time in school history, the other two times came in consecutive seasons in 1961-62 which lasted 27 straight polls and for three weeks during the 2006-07 campaign. Ohio State is now 18-0 on the season and plays Wednesday night at home against Iowa and finish the week against tough No. 22 Illinois.
Since 2007, when the Buckeyes lost in the title game, they have consistently been in the top 10 even through the contributors have changed with several players going pro. This season they have four returning starters. They have also been led by a group of first-year players such as Jared Sullinger.
Sullinger, who stands at 6-foot-9 leads the team with 17.5 points and 10.1 rebounds a game and it has helped put him in the conversation for the best player in the nation up to this point.
“I think it’s great for the program,” Buckeyes coach Thad Matta said of the Buckeyes’ return to the top ranking. “I don’t know how many schools can say that they’ve been in that position. We’re definitely one of them.”
The question remains as to how long they can stay on top with the other four teams in the top five being just as good. They have the ability to hold on to it for the rest of the season and take it into March Madness. From there anything is possible but we think anything less than a sweet 16 berth would be a disappointment.