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Ohio State picked fifth in Big Ten Lindy's annual preseason magazine

Adam Jardy
Buckeye Xtra

Ohio State is projected to finish fifth in the Big Ten this season according to Lindy’s annual preseason college basketball magazine.

Ohio State Buckeyes guard Duane Washington Jr. (4) is guarded by Maryland Terrapins center Chol Marial (15) during Sunday's NCAA Division I basketball game at Value City Arena in Columbus on February 23, 2020.[Barbara J. Perenic/Dispatch]

The 2020-21 season preview issue, which features Duane Washington Jr. sharing a regional cover with Dayton’s Rodney Chatman, Cincinnati’s Mike Adams-Woods and Xavier’s Paul Scruggs, lists the Buckeyes as the nation’s preseason No. 22 team with the headline: “Start with 20 wins, check back in March.”

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The Buckeyes are projected to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, as they did during coach Chris Holtmann’s first two seasons before the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out last year’s tournament. The preseason capsule points out that Holtmann has only reached the Sweet Sixteen once and concludes that, “this ranking says he doesn’t make it this year, either … but we’re not sure we’d bet against it.”

Ohio State’s No. 22 national ranking puts it behind Wisconsin (No. 6), Iowa (10), Illinois (12) and Michigan State (20) in the Big Ten. Lindy’s projects seven Big Ten teams to make the NCAA Tournament, three to make the Sweet Sixteen and Wisconsin to reach the Elite Eight but bow out before the Final Four. The league is ranked as the best in the nation.

Former California wing Justice Sueing is listed as one of six players “Well rested, ready to rumble” who have sat out for a transfer season and are now eligible. Two Buckeyes are ranked among the top 150 players in college basketball: sophomore E.J. Liddell is No. 89 and Harvard graduate transfer Seth Towns is No. 105. Towns is also cited as the player who will have the most impact in the Big Ten, and both he and Liddell are third-team all-conference selections.

The good news for Ohio State is that Sueing and Towns will “deliver offensive punch” while the bad news is that there is “no more Wessonality” after losing both Andre and Kaleb Wesson. In conclusion, Lindy’s writes that “if E.J. Liddell improves as much as Chris Holtmann suspects, this team has a chance to go far.”

Freshman post player Zed Key is listed as the No. 55 member of the class of 2020. Looking ahead, 2021 verbal commitment Malaki Branham is ranked No. 24 nationally

“We’ve got a lot to figure out,” Holtmann told the magazine. “People are curious what our team is going to look like.”

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy