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Men’s Basketball: Ohio State appears at No. 23 in Associated Press Top 25 Poll

Ohio State freshman forward Jaedon Ledee (23) dunks the ball during the second half of the game against South Carolina State on Nov. 18. Ohio State won 89-61. Credit: Amal Saeed | Assistant Photo Editor

Defying expectations has become somewhat of a trend for the Ohio State men’s basketball team.

The Buckeyes entered the 2018-19 campaign with unflattering predictions from media outlets, with most estimating the team to be among the bottom half of the Big Ten conference.

Yet, Monday, in the latest updated of the Associated Press Top 25 Poll, the Buckeyes sit at No. 23 in the rankings, ahead of No. 24 Purdue and No. 25 Wisconsin. Among conference teams, Ohio State sits behind only No. 9 Michigan and No. 11 Michigan State.

In the second season under head coach Chris Holtmann, Ohio State has jumped out to a 4-0 start, with wins coming against Cincinnati and Creighton.

Ohio State reached the NCAA Tournament in its first season under Holtmann, finishing in the final poll before Selection Sunday as the No. 17 team in the country and receiving an at-large bid to be a No. 5 seed in the West region. The Buckeyes beat South Dakota State in the first round, but were eliminated by Gonzaga in the second.

Despite the success, Ohio State was not expected to repeat in 2018-19, losing reigning Big Ten Player of the Year Keita Bates-Diop, as well as captain Jae’Sean Tate and guard Kam Williams, all of whom were starters. However, the Buckeyes have been carried by strong early season performances from senior guard C.J. Jackson, as well as freshman guards Luther Muhammad and Duane Washington, with sophomore forward Kaleb Wesson leading the team in rebounds thus far.

The Buckeyes will compete for the first time in the 2018-19 season as a ranked team at 7 p.m. Tuesday when they host Samford at the Schottenstein Center. The team will then face Cleveland State at 8 p.m. Friday at St. John Arena, in a game Ohio State has already announced will be sold out.

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