Led by five seniors, including two-time Big Ten Player of the Year guard Kelsey Mitchell, Ohio State enters the season ranked No. 5 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. The rankings were released Thursday morning.
The Buckeyes are the highest ranked Big Ten team. Maryland, which lost its three top scorers to graduation or transfer, came in at No. 15, while Michigan snuck in at No. 24. Ohio State plays a difficult nonconference schedule featuring season-opening matchups against No. 10 Stanford and No. 9 Louisville — both at home — and a road game against No. 12 Duke.
Earlier in the week, the Buckeyes were ranked No. 8 in the coaches poll.
Also picked by Big Ten media and coaches to win the conference championship, Ohio State features a fast-paced offense with a small, yet talented rotation of contributors.
Mitchell was honored as preseason Big Ten Player of the Year and named to the preseason first-team All-Big Ten team along with redshirt senior forward Stephanie Mavunga. Mitchell, who has been named a first- or second-team All-American in all three seasons of her career, led the conference with 22.6 points per game last year. Mavunga became the third Buckeye in program history to average a double-double, as she dropped 11.4 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.
The Buckeyes open the season at 6 p.m. Nov. 10 against Stanford at St. John Arena.
Here are the full rankings.
- Connecticut (32 first-place votes)
- South Carolina
- Ohio State
- Notre Dame
- Mississippi State
- West Virginia
- Florida State
- Oregon State
- California (tie)
- Texas A&M (tie)
- South Florida