The way Ohio State’s season ended in 2021 left a bitter taste in the mouths of the Buckeyes. As a No. 2 seed, Chris Holtmann’s squad was eliminated in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, falling to No. 15 seed Oral Roberts.

Not this time.

EJ Liddell scoring 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, leading Ohio State to a 54-41 win over Loyola-Chicago in the first round of this year’s NCAA Tournament. The Buckeyes will advance to the Round of 32, with a chance to play for a Sweet 16 berth.

Sports Betting in Big Ten Country

With the launch coming on January 1, 2023, Ohio sports betting apps are almost here.

FanDuel is now giving users a $100 bonus for Ohio pre-registration. Go pre-register now.

21+ and present in OH. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER.

Liddell and his teammates remembered the feeling from last year’s crushing defeat in the opening round. After the game, he said he didn’t want the seniors to end their career on that note.

“I didn’t want our seniors to go home yet, so I did the best I could,” Liddell said, per Griffin Strom of Eleven Warriors.

Ohio State struggled at the end of the season. The Buckeyes dropped 3 of their last 4 games, including a one-and-done appearance in the B1G Tournament. Many picked against OSU in the first round because of their poor play to close the year.

Kyle Young and Zed Key — both battling injuries and missing time at the end of the year — made a huge difference in their returns. Young had 9 points and 7 rebounds while Key grabbed 7 boards and scored a bucket in the 13-point win.

The Buckeyes could shoot the ball a little better from 3-point range, making just 1-of-15 shots from deep. Defensively, though, Holtmann’s bunch looked much better than the previous 4 contests.