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Ohio State men’s basketball debuts at No. 17 in first AP Poll of season

The Buckeyes appear to be amongst the best in the nation according to the Associated Press.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Media Days Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

With several new faces on the Ohio State men’s basketball team this season and only two major losses, the 2021-2022 Buckeyes will look to bounce back from a disappointing NCAA Tournament loss and compete for a Big Ten title once again. According to AP voters, they’ll have a substantial shot to make it happen.

The first AP Poll of the season was released Monday afternoon, and Ohio State clocks in at No. 17 — one of five Big Ten teams to start the season ranked. Michigan (6), Purdue (7), and Illinois (11) all are ahead of the Buckeyes, while Maryland (21) is just a few spots down.

Michigan State (26), Indiana (27), and Rutgers (35) all received votes, but were left outside of the top-25.

The 17th-ranked Buckeyes went 21-10 last season, finishing fifth in the B1G and making it to the championship game of the Big Ten Tournament. They were then awarded a 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament, where they were upset by 15-seed Oral Roberts in the first round in overtime, 75-72.

Gone are point guard CJ Walker and shooting guard Duane Washington Jr. from that team, but key contributors such as E.J. Liddell, Kyle Young, Justice Sueing, and Justin Ahrens all return. Jimmy Sotos is fully healthy after injuring his shoulder last season, and Columbus-native Seth Towns should return in December after undergoing a minor back procedure last month.

New to the team are guards Jamari Wheeler and Cedric Russell, who transferred to Ohio State from Penn State and Louisiana-Lafayette, respectively. Wheeler is a former B1G Defensive Player of the Year, and Russell was ULF’s leading scorer a season ago and shot better than 40% from beyond the arc.

Freshman guard Malaki Branham could make an immediate impact as well. A four-star prospect from Akron’s St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, Branham is one of the highest-rated Ohio products to commit to the Buckeyes in years. With the departures of Walker and Washington, minutes at both guard spots will be there for the taking.

Last year’s national-runner up Gonzaga is No. 1 in the first poll, followed by UCLA, Kansas, Villanova, and Texas. Reigning national champion Baylor starts the season at No. 8. Ohio State’s opponent in the B1G-ACC Challenge, Duke, is No. 9.

You can check out the full poll below:

Preseason AP Poll - Week 0

Rank Team Points
Rank Team Points
1 Gonzaga 1562
2 UCLA 1459
3 Kansas 1427
4 Villanova 1332
5 Texas 1315
6 Michigan 1255
7 Purude 1213
8 Baylor 992
9 Duke 963
10 Kentucky 894
11 Illinois 861
12 Memphis 831
13 Oregon 775
14 Alabama 713
15 Houston 694
16 Arkansas 673
17 Ohio State 581
18 Tennessee 563
19 North Carolina 547
20 Florida State 381
21 Maryland 294
22 Auburn 267
23 St. Bonaventure 238
24 Connecticut 161
25 Virginia 125