Commentary

Ohio State the true No. 1

In terms of performance, no one has outplayed the Buckeyes

Originally Published: February 1, 2012
By John Gasaway | Special to ESPN Insider
Jared Sullinger Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesJared Sullinger is one of many reasons Ohio State has played better than any other team this year.

On Saturday, Ohio State will play at Wisconsin, and the conventions of sports writing suggest it's foolish to write a piece about how great any team is right before it plays in Madison. You may have heard that the Badgers tend to win a very high percentage of such games, and at the moment Bo Ryan's team is riding a six-game winning streak.

It's entirely possible that the Buckeyes will lose when they visit Wisconsin. After all, Thad Matta's team has already lost at Indiana and Illinois, and while those teams are very good they're not what one would call historically formidable. (The Hoosiers are currently ranked No. 20 in the nation, while the Illini are unranked. For the record OSU also lost at Kansas on Dec. 10, a game it played without Jared Sullinger.) But maybe the conventions of sports writing -- and of polling -- could benefit from greater awareness of an admittedly dull fact: losses do happen, even to the best teams.

We've been waiting patiently for 36 years now for the next version of Indiana in 1976, and we're still waiting. Perhaps Murray State will win the national championship this season and fill that longing for the Perfect Season. While we wait, I want to say a word or two about a plainly imperfect Ohio State team.

This is the best team in the country right now
The Buckeyes are my choice as the No. 1 team in the country, and, yes, I realize mine is a minority view. Maybe even a solitary view. In this week's polls OSU didn't receive a single No. 1 vote from a writer or coach anywhere in the nation. (Not one!) Still, I don't think the disagreement here is really so pronounced. These are all exceptionally strong teams we're discussing, but a top 25 only allows you one No. 1, and I just happen to think the team in Columbus is the strongest.