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Ohio State Basketball Season Preview
The #17 Ohio State Buckeyes have started a perfect 2-0 with wins against Akron and Niagara. They come into this season playing at a top level with the other big powerhouses in the Big Ten with Michigan, Illinois, and Purdue, who are expected to be highly talented.
Head Coach Chris Holtmann wants to bring his team to avenge last year’s Big Ten title game loss and first-round exit to 15-seed Oral Roberts in the NCAA tournament. They are returning much of their roster and look to build on last year’s struggles for a deep tournament run in March.
Let’s dive into this Ohio State men’s basketball team and look at the key players and upcoming schedule for the Bucks.
Starters and Key Returns
The starting lineup that Holtmann will be playing with is point guard Jamari Wheel, guard Justin Ahrens, forward EJ Liddell, forward Justice Sueing, and center Kyle Young. The Buckeyes will play small, with the tallest guy in the lineup being 6’8”, Kyle Young.
Key Returners include EJ Liddell, Justice Sueing, and Kyle Young, who were crucial parts of Ohio State’s success last season. Liddell will be the team leader, and it has shown in his first two performances for the Buckeyes this season. He had 25-11-3 in the win against Akron and 29-5-3 in the 84-74 win against Niagara.
The 2021-22 Buckeyes are very experienced, with ten seniors on the roster. That should help when facing younger teams as experience has proved crucial, especially late in the season come March.
Key Upcoming Games
Looking ahead at the Buckeyes’ schedule, they have some tough matchups outside of the Big Ten. Ohio State will host the #9 Duke Blue Devils on November 30 and the #10 Kentucky Wildcats on December 18. That will give Ohio State some great opportunities to prove its legitimacy this year.
With the conference schedule, Ohio State will travel to Illinois to face the Illini and Purdue and then have a home and home with the Michigan Wolverines. The Buckeyes are projected to finish third in the Big Ten, but with such a competitive conference, anything can happen in the Big Ten between those top teams.
Ohio State has a lot of their core guys from last year, which will help in their pursuit for another solid season. The only issue I see is defending a big down low that can overpower any of the starters on the Ohio State team.
Preseason First Team All-Conference member EJ Liddell will need to be on his “A” game all season to give the Buckeyes the production to make up for their lack of size. This lack of size can prove beneficial for the Buckeyes if they can push the pace of play against teams who don’t have that ability with their size.
The Buckeyes will be tested many times throughout the season with good competition, but this also allows them to gain some marquee wins to boost their seed come tournament time.
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