After a disappointing loss, Ohio State can now fully focus on next season.
With Baylor's drubbing of Gonzaga last night, the 2020-21 college basketball season is officially over and it is time to begin looking towards 2021-22.
Ohio State is projected to return most of its roster. C.J. Walker (graduation) and Musa Jallow (transfer) have announced their decisions to leave Columbus (and Kyle Young could join them), but E.J. Liddell, Duane Washington, and Justice Sueing are all expected to stick around and will be joined by at least one transfer: former Penn State guard Jamari Wheeler.
Let's take a look at where pundits think the Buckeyes stand as we enter a pivotal year for Chris Holtmann.
Gary Parrish, CBS: No. 6
The first prediction comes from Gary Parrish of CBS Sports, who has the Buckeyes in at No. 6.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL RANKINGS: The first 2021-22 @CBSSports Preseason Top 25 And 1 has published.— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) April 6, 2021
6. Ohio State
7. Florida State
Michigan, Purdue, and Ohio State are largely predicted as the top three teams in the Big Ten because they all are expected to return the most talent (or in Michigan's case, return some talent and add a few five-stars) but things could change if Kofi Cockburn decides to come back to Illinois another year.
The national champion Bears stay around the top at No. 5, while Alabama is predicted for another big year under Nate Oats. UCLA earns the No. 1 ranking, although that may change if star Johnny Juzang heads to the NBA.
All things considered, I would say that this is a fair ranking for Ohio State IF they land either Efton Reid or a transfer big (and Kyle Young returns). Without those further roster adjustments, it may be just a tad high. This finish would be a spot higher than this previous year, when Ohio State was ranked No. 7 heading into the Big Dance.
Seth Davis, The Athletic: No. 13
On the low end of the spectrum, The Athletic's Seth Davis has Ohio State all the way down at No. 13 entering this offseason.
Next season has begun! My way too early top 25 is 100 percent correct.— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) April 6, 2021
Way too early mens college basketball Top 25: Gonzaga, Michigan and UCLA lead Seth Davis list https://t.co/ooCaRSV2qg
Unlike Parrish, Davis has Michigan at No. 2 and Purdue at No. 4, with Illinois at No. 10 (Davis projects Cockburn to return) and Maryland, bolstered by two incoming transfers, at No. 11.
Thus, Davis has the Buckeyes projected to finish fifth in the conference and No. 13 overall, which seems fair, although Davis totally missed the incoming addition of Wheeler in his report on Ohio State, so I'm not sure how serious to take it.
Davis also has Michigan State at No. 20, giving the Big Ten six teams in his early poll.
Kevin Sweeney, Sports Illustrated: No. 4
On the flip side, we see the highest ranking yet as Sports Illustrated's Kevin Sweeney pegs the Buckeyes as No. 4, behind No. 1 Gonzaga, Michigan, and Duke.
Its time... my Way-Too-Early Top 25 is here!— Kevin Sweeney (@CBB_Central) April 6, 2021
Think of this as a snapshot in time. Things will change by the day, but this is where were starting from.
Dive in: https://t.co/iLzVBy0ksJ
Sweeney's rationale for ranking Ohio State that high is simple:
"The Buckeyes’ stunning first-round NCAA tournament exit to Oral Roberts shouldn’t overshadow a great season in Columbus that saw Ohio State ranked in the top 10 for the entirety of February and March. The dynamic duo of guard Duane Washington Jr. and big man E.J. Liddell should be back for another year, and that’s as good a place to start as any in college basketball. Add in top-30 recruit Malaki Branham and a talented young stable of role players, and the Buckeyes should be legitimate Big Ten contenders yet again."
While I think the take is fair, it may be just a bit too high for a team that lost in the first round.
Betting Odds: 4th Highest
Switching gears from analysts to Vegas, Ohio State is tied for the fourth highest odds of any team to be cutting down the nets at the end of 2021-22.
2021-2022 odds are out and Gonzaga is the favorite again pic.twitter.com/7EYCIMwjhB— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) April 6, 2021
Behind just Gonzaga, Michigan, and Florida State (and tied with Villanova), Ohio State is projected for a strong season by DKSportsbook.
You know what they say: Vegas ALWAYS knows.
Jeff Goodman, Stadium: No. 2
The boldest of any of the predictions, Jeff Goodman gives Ohio State an extremely lofty No. 2 ranking.
It is interesting to note that Goodman makes it very clear in his tweet that he has complete rosters, but like Davis, neglects to mention the addition of Jamari Wheeler.
Still, he has Ohio State No. 2 by virtue of their strong returning cast.