Despite starting the season 4-0 and getting a big 67-61 win on the road against Georgia Tech of the mighty ACC, the Ohio Bobcats have not gotten the respect that they deserve as they are unranked in both the AP and the Coaches’ Polls as of this writing, and picked up just one vote in the former poll. There’s still a lot of unbeatens left that still need time to separate themselves in this sport, but it’s time to put some #respekt in the name of the Bobcats as they look to remain the class of the MAC.
Let’s talk about these polls for a minute; how on earth can a 2-2 Michigan State Spartans team still be ranked at this juncture when we don’t know anything definitive about them or any other team yet? Tom Izzo’s great and is clearly getting the benefit of the doubt from the media and other coaches, but you need to actually win your games if you want to consider yourself among the top teams in the country, and Michigan State hasn’t done it. There’s more examples of teams that aren’t necessarily deserving of being ranked, but Michigan State is the most clear-cut one of a team that hasn’t delivered the goods so far this season.
Meanwhile, Ohio is very much for real this season as it as its defense has been outstanding by allowing a .388 shooting percentage and 65 points per game while also forcing 60 turnovers in four games. Antonio Campbell looks like the next great one in in the long line of terrific Bobcats as he nearly averages a double-double with 16.3 ppg and 9.5 rebounds per game to go with his nine blocks this season.
However, the team is not flawless as it has shot an abysmal 64% from the free throw line and has committed 50 turnovers in their four games. One player that needs to play better if the ‘Cats want to make a splash nationally is Jaaron Simmons as he has recorded 30 assists to 18 turnovers as a guard, and he’ll have to take better care of the ball without taking away from the playmaking ability of the OU offense if team expects to go where it wants to.
There’s not any marquee games left for the Bobcats before MAC play, but the goal of cutting down the nets in Cleveland at the MAC Tournament is far from a guarantee. The team has a rough four-game stretch in January with games vs. Kent State, at Buffalo, vs. Eastern Michigan, and at Akron while the end of the season could potentially get hairy with two meetings with Miami (they’re not great, but it’s still a rivalry game) plus match-ups with KSU and UB. If OU wants to be a ranked team and have a chance at a pretty decent seed in the NCAA Tournament, it has to take care of business in MAC play and not get caught in the traps in its conference schedule.
With the new polls coming out on Monday, we will see if Ohio picks up any more momentum in the polls or if it continues to get snubbed in favor of teams whose names are bigger than their games. If the Bobcats continue to pile up the wins however, they will end up in the national consciousness eventually whether the media and coaches outside of the MAC likes it or not.