Ohio State started the season ranked 10th at KenPom and never dropped lower than 25th before bouncing around inside the top 10 the entire month of February. The Buckeyes were rolling and a projected No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament, according to most. But with a roster short on obvious NBA talent -- and just short in general -- a bumpy stretch was always a possibility, especially in a league like the Big Ten. So it shouldn't be too surprising that things have turned a little sideways for Chris Holtmann's team. But, surprising or not, taking a three-game losing streak into March is obviously less than ideal.
"They clearly outplayed us, outperformed us, outcoached us," Holtmann said after Sunday's 73-57 loss to Iowa, which doubled as the Buckeyes' third straight loss, and second straight at home. "We've got to get back to work."
Holtmann is right, of course. And he'll get this turned around, I'd bet. But Ohio State's shortcomings on defense are very real and problematic. And it always seemed like just a matter of time before it would start costing the Buckeyes victories.
Now here we are.
Ohio State's past three opponents -- Michigan, Michigan State and Iowa -- have combined to shoot 49.1% from the field against the Buckeyes, which has caused OSU to slip to No. 81 nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency. That's clearly not a number that'll prevent Ohio State from being good because Ohio State has been good all season despite a suspect defense. But it should be noted that the average final adjusted defensive-efficiency ranking of Final Four teams over the past five NCAA Tournaments is 15.3, and nobody with a final adjusted defensive-efficiency ranking worse than 47th has advanced to the last weekend of the season in that stretch. Again, Ohio State currently ranks 81st. So that's likely something that'll need to improve for the Buckeyes to be legitimate contenders to win the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
Ohio State is No. 8 in Monday morning's updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings. The Buckeyes are scheduled to close the regular season Saturday against Illinois.
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Monday's Top 25 And 1 rankings
|Gonzaga's perfect record includes double-digit victories over Virginia, Iowa and Kansas. The Zags have won their 15 WCC games by an average of 24.1 points.||--||31-1|
|Michigan is 12-1 in the first two quadrants with double-digit wins over Iowa, Wisconsin and Purdue. The Wolverines' lone loss came at Minnesota.||--||23-5|
|Baylor suffered its first loss of the season Saturday at Kansas. The Bears are 8-1 in the first two quadrants with double-digit wins over Illinois, Oklahoma State and Texas.||--||28-2|
|Illinois is 12-6 in the first two quadrants with zero additional losses. Five of the Illini's six losses are Quadrant 1 defeats.||1||24-7|
|West Virginia is 11-6 in the first two quadrants with zero additional losses. The Mountaineers are 6-1 in their past seven games with wins over Texas, Kansas and Texas Tech.||1||19-10|
|Alabama is 13-6 in the first two quadrants with zero additional losses. The Crimson Tide are SEC champions for the first time since 2002.||1||26-7|
|Iowa is 11-7 in the first two quadrants with zero additional losses. The Hawkeyes are 5-1 in their past six games with the lone loss in that stretch coming at Michigan.||2||22-9|
|Ohio State dropped to 12-6 in the first two quadrants after Thursday's loss at Michigan State. The Buckeyes' resume is highlighted by victories over Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin.||4||21-10|
|Houston is 7-2 in the first two quadrants with one additional loss falling in Quadrant 3. The Cougars are 5-1 in their past six games with the lone loss in that stretch coming at Wichita State.||1||28-4|
|Arkansas is 10-5 in the first two quadrants with only one loss outside of Quadrant 1. The Razorbacks are 9-1 in their past 10 games with wins over Alabama and Missouri.||1||25-7|
|Florida State dropped to 8-3 in the first two quadrants after Saturday's loss at North Carolina. The Seminoles' resume also includes a Quadrant 3 loss to UCF.||1||18-7|
|Villanova dropped to 7-4 in the first two quadrants after Sunday's loss at Butler. The Wildcats have a two-game lead in the loss column of the Big East standings with two regular-season games to play.||4||18-7|
|Kansas is 9-8 in the first two quadrants with zero losses outside of Quadrant 1. The Jayhawks are the only team that has beaten Baylor.||--||21-9|
|Texas dropped to 7-7 in the first two quadrants after Saturday's loss at Texas Tech. All seven of the Longhorns losses are Quadrant 1 defeats.||--||19-8|
|Loyola Chicago is 5-4 in the first two quadrants with zero additional losses. The Ramblers are 13-1 in their past 14 games and MVC champions for the third time in the past four seasons.||--||26-5|
|Creighton dropped to 11-3 in the first two quadrants after Saturday's loss at Xavier. The Bluejays' resume also includes three Quadrant 3 defeats.||--||22-9|
|Oklahoma State is 8-5 in the first two quadrants with one additional loss falling in Quadrant 3. The Cowboys will take a four-game winning streak into Monday's game with Oklahoma.||--||21-9|
|Virginia dropped to 7-4 in the first two quadrants after Wednesday's loss to NC State. The Cavaliers have two additional losses in Quadrant 3.||--||18-7|
|USC dropped to 7-6 in the first two quadrants after Saturday's loss at Utah. The Trojans are 1-3 in their past three games with all three losses coming to unranked opponents.||--||25-8|
|Wisconsin dropped to 9-9 in the first two quadrants after Saturday's loss to Illinois. The Badgers are 1-3 in their past four games with the lone win in that stretch coming at Northwestern.||--||18-13|
|Virginia Tech is 5-5 in the first two quadrants with zero additional losses. The Hokies' resume is highlighted by wins over Villanova, Virginia and Clemson.||--||15-7|
|BYU is 8-5 in the first two quadrants with zero additional losses. The Cougars will take a four-game winning streak into the West Coast Conference Tournament.||--||20-7|
|Purdue is 10-7 in the first two quadrants with one additional loss falling in Quadrant 3. The Boilermakers will take a three-game winning streak into Tuesday's game with Wisconsin.||--||18-10|
|Clemson is 9-5 in the first two quadrants with zero additional losses. The Tigers will take a five-game winning streak into Wednesday's game at Syracuse.||--||16-8|
|Oklahoma dropped to 6-6 in the first two quadrants after Saturday's loss to Oklahoma State. The Sooners' resume also includes a Quadrant 3 loss at Kansas State.||--||16-11|
|Missouri dropped to 8-7 in the first two quadrants after Tuesday's loss to Ole Miss. The Tigers are 1-4 in their past five games with three losses in that stretch to unranked teams.||--||16-10|