#6 Ohio State Men's Basketball 2021-2022 Preview

Ohio State Buckeyes
2021-2022 Overall Rank: #6
Conference Rank: #2 Big Ten
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Ohio State is coming off another very good season. The Buckeyes went 21-10 and earned a number two seed in the NCAA Tournament. This group did struggle down the stretch though, losing five of their last eight games heading into the tournament. Four of those losses came against teams ranked in the top ten and the other was at Michigan State. Unfortunately for Coach Chris Holtmann and company, the losing ways continued into the NCAA Tournament where they lost in overtime to Oral Roberts. Despite the loss of a great backcourt tandem, Ohio State is in a good position to have an even better team in 2021-2022.
2020-21 Record: 21-10, 12-8
2020-21 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Chris Holtmann
Coach Record: 87-43 at Ohio State, 201-128 overall
Key Departed Players:
Duane Washington Jr, Guard, 16.4 ppg
CJ Walker, Guard, 9.5 ppg
Musa Jallow, Guard, 2.9 ppg
Key Returning Players:
E.J. Liddell, Junior, Forward, 16.2 ppg
Justice Sueing, Senior, Forward, 10.7 ppg
Kyle Young, Senior, Forward, 8.6 ppg
Justin Ahrens, Senior, Forward, 5.7 ppg
Zed Key, Sophomore, Forward, 5.2 ppg
Seth Towns, Senior, Forward, 3.8 ppg
Jimmy Sotos, Senior, Guard, 1.7 ppg
Meechie Johnson Jr, Freshman, Guard, 1.2 ppg
Eugene Brown III, Sophomore, Guard, 1.2 ppg
Key New Players:
Malaki Branham, Freshman, Guard
Joey Brunk, Senior, Center, Transfer from Indiana
Kalen Etzler, Freshman, Forward
Cedric Russell, Senior, Guard, Transfer from Louisiana
Jamari Wheeler, Senior, Guard, Transfer from Penn State
Technically, Ohio State’s top six returners are all forwards. E.J. Liddell will start at the power forward position after averaging 16.2 points and a team high 6.7 rebounds a season ago. He can step outside and hit three-pointers, but is at his best scoring in the post. Senior Justice Sueing is a similar player that can stretch the defense and battle in the paint. Kyle Young is the true post presence and will start at the center spot. Indiana transfer Joey Brunk is the biggest player on the roster at 6-11 and his addition will allow Liddell to stay at his more natural four spot. Justin Ahrens started 18 games last season and proved to be a great outside shooter. He knocked down 42.5 percent of his 127 attempts from beyond the arc. Whether he starts at the shooting guard position or comes in off the bench, Ahren will provide a nice little spark to the offense. With Zed Key and Seth Towns, Ohio State has an impressive number of options in the frontcourt. But it is getting production out of the guards that will decide how far this team can go. Jamari Wheeler will get the first crack at running the point. The Penn State transfer averaged 6.8 points and 3.5 assists with the Nittany Lions. Meechie Johnson will be the point guard of the future and just needs to get some quality minutes for now. The shooting guard spot, if not occupied by Ahrens, will go to freshman Malaki Branham and Louisiana transfer Cedric Russell. Russell averaged 17.2 points per game last season and hit nearly three three-pointers per game. He will continue to knock down plenty of shots in the Big Ten. This is a very talented group and there is plenty of depth across the board. Ohio State could quickly become the team to beat in the Big Ten.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 77.2 (45th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 71.1 (197, 9)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.9 (74, 5)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.1 (104, 7)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.1 (87, 7)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 26.0 (68, 5)
Free-Throw Percentage: 75.6 (40, 3)
Rebound Margin: 3.0 (83, 5)
Assists Per Game: 13.1 (175, 14)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.6 (15, 3)
Madness 2021 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#34 Malaki Branham
#156 Kalen Etzler