The last time Thad Matta’s Ohio State Buckeyes topped The Associated Press Top 25, they reached the national championship game.
Could the same karma take place in 2010-11?
“It did happen that way before and it would be great for it to happen again,” Matta said Monday, hours after the Buckeyes replaced Duke at No. 1. “I’d trade it right now for better defense. But it’s great for our program.”
The Buckeyes (18-0) moved up one spot to replace Duke, which was No. 1 in the preseason Top 25 and the first nine polls of the regular season, including six weeks as the unanimous pick of the 65-member national media panel.
The Blue Devils’ loss at Florida State on Wednesday opened the way for the Buckeyes, who are No. 1 for the third time in school history. Ohio State was No. 1 for all of 1960-61 and 1961-62, a run of 27 straight polls, and for three weeks at the end of 2006-07.
“This is big for our program and The Ohio State University,” Matta said. “At Ohio State we’re trying to be the best program we can be and this is part of that. I don’t know if the players will wear it as a target. I think we know how tough it will be to keep it.”
Ohio State, led by John Havlicek and Jerry Lucas, won the national championship in 1960 and lost the title game to Cincinnati in 1961 and 1962. The Buckeyes, this time led by Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr., reached the Final Four in 2007, losing to Florida in the championship game.
The Buckeyes got as high as No. 5 last season with Evan Turner, the national player of the year, leading the way. He left early for the NBA draft and is now with the Philadelphia 76ers.
“I’m glad to see it,” he said of the No. 1 ranking.