Ohio State’s men’s basketball team learns their first 2022 Maui Invitational opponent


Ohio State’s first opponent in the 2022 Maui Jim Maui Invitational was announced on Monday. The Buckeyes will play in the third game on the first day of the annual tournament, squaring off against San Diego State. This year’s edition of the tournament will be a little more special than recent years, as COVID-19 has kept the last two tournaments away from Hawaii. In 2020, Asheville, North Carolina was the home of the tournament, followed by last year’s Maui Invitational being played in Las Vegas.

This will be the first time Ohio State has played in the Maui Invitational since 2003, when they were also matched up with San Diego State in the first round. The Buckeyes will be hoping for a different result this year, as the Aztecs topped the Buckeyes, 83-61, 19 years ago. The game was tied at 32 heading into the halftime break before San Diego State used a 21-1 run in the second half to put some distance on the Buckeyes. The Aztecs hit 13 three-pointers in the game, which at the time was a school record.

Following the loss to San Diego State, Ohio State would rebound to defeat Central Michigan 77-71, followed by edging Villanova 67-66 to earn fifth place honors in 2003. The only time the Buckeyes won their first game of the Maui Invitational was in 1993, when they took down Tennessee Tech 98-77 before losing 100-88 to Kentucky. Ohio State closed out the 1993 with a 69-67 win over Boston College, with the third place finish being their best finish in three Maui appearances. Their first trip to Maui in 1988 saw them finish in fifth place beating DePaul and Vanderbilt after an opening round loss to Oklahoma.

The Aztecs and Buckeyes have met on two other occasions, splitting a home-and-home series. Ohio State won 72-56 in Columbus in 1995, while San Diego State defended their home court with an 81-75 win the following year. Last season, Brian Dutcher’s team finished with a 23-9 record, falling to Creighton 72-69 in overtime in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Buckeyes could be matching up with a familiar face when they battle the Aztecs. After starting his college career in Columbus, Jaedon LeDee played in 26 games for Ohio State before transferring to TCU. LeDee had a couple really good performances for the Buckeyes, scoring 16 points against Purdue-Fort Wayne, as well as against Purdue before announcing his transfer to TCU, where he only scored more than 16 points in a game once. After redshirting last season due to transfer rules, LeDee is eligible to play for San Diego State this year.

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Cincinnati

After playing San Diego State, the Buckeyes will take on either Cincinnati or Arizona, depending on the results of the first round of the tournament. Obviously the juicier matchup would be if the Buckeyes and Bearcats were to meet in the winners bracket in Hawaii. Ohio State has won their last four meetings against Cincinnati. The in-state foes opened up the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons against each other, with Ohio State taking both legs of the home-and-home series by a 64-56 scoreline.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: NOV 06 Cincinnati at Ohio State

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Last season, Cincinnati was 18-15 in Wes Miller’s first season as head coach. The Bearcats should field a tougher squad this year, with leading scorers David DeJulius and Jeremiah Davenport returning, as well as the addition of four-star guard Daniel Skillings. If the schools meet and Cincinnati is able to beat Ohio State, it would be the first win by the Bearcats over the Buckeyes since 1962.


Arizona

If it plays out that Ohio State and Arizona meet in Maui, it will be the first time the schools have met in the regular season since 1971, when the Buckeyes cruised to a 90-47 victory. Since then, Ohio State and Arizona have split two NCAA Tournament appearances. The Buckeyes won a thriller in the 2013 Sweet Sixteen in Los Angeles, edging the Wildcats 73-70. Two years later Arizona earned a bit of revenge with a 73-58 victory over Ohio State in Portland. Following an overtime win over VCU in the first round, D’Angelo Russell had nothing left in the tank against Arizona, going just 3-of-19 from the field.

Last season, the Wildcats were a one-seed in the NCAA Tournament, losing 72-60 to Houston in the Sweet Sixteen, finishing with a 33-4 record. Tommy Lloyd will be looking to go further in the tourney in his second season in Tucson, as he has the 10th-ranked recruiting class in the country, as well as Texas transfer Courtney Ramey in the fold. The Wildcats are the only team in the field to previously win a Maui Invitational, taking home the title in 2000 and 2014.


Louisville

Rounding out the field are Texas Tech, Creighton, Louisville, and Arkansas. Louisville is the team Ohio State has matched up with most in the past, with the Cardinals holding a 5-4 edge in past meetings with the Buckeyes. The last time Ohio State and Louisville faced each other was in the 2014 ACC/Big Ten Challenge, where the Cardinals earned a 66-54 win at home over the Buckeyes. Russell scored 17 points against his hometown team, but Ohio State shot just 30% from the field.

The Cardinals will be looking to turn around a program that has been dealing with turmoil over the last few seasons. Head coach Chris Mack was suspended for the first six games of last season before being let go in late January. Louisville finished the season 13-19 and will now turn to former player Kenny Payne to lead the program. This will be Payne’s first head coaching job after spending time as an assistant with the New York Knicks, as well as at Oregon and Kentucky at the college level.


Creighton

Aside from Cincinnati, the most recent team the Buckeyes have faced are the Creighton Blue Jays. Ohio state traveled to Omaha in 2018, where they defeated Creighton 69-60 in the Gavitt Games thanks to a combined 31 points off the bench from Keyshawn Woods and Duane Washington Jr.

Creighton head coach Greg McDermott was seriously considered to take over as head coach at Ohio State following the departure of Thad Matta, but the Buckeyes eventually turned to Chris Holtmann. McDermott will be entering his 13th season as head coach of the Blue Jays. Last season Creighton snuck by San Diego State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to eventual champion Kansas 79-72 in the second round.


Texas Tech & Arkansas

The final two teams the Buckeyes could possibly face in Maui are Texas Tech and Arkansas, who were the last two teams that Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski defeated in his legendary coaching career. Texas Tech fell to Duke 78-73 in the Sweet Sixteen, while Arkansas lost 78-69 before the Blue Devils were defeated by North Carolina in the Final Four.

Ohio State has faced Texas Tech just twice, with the teams meeting for a home-and-home in the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons. The Red Raiders won 80-72 in their first matchup, followed by Ohio State earning a 77-71 win the next season. If Ohio State and Texas Tech meet, Buckeye fans will hear a name that caused them pain a couple of years ago, as Oral Roberts forward Kevin Obanor transferred into the program prior to last season.

Arkansas holds a 2-1 advantage all-time against Ohio State, but the teams haven’t met since 1986. The only three meetings between the teams happened during a three-year stretch that started in 1984. The Buckeyes took the first meeting 85 -84 before the Razorbacks won the next two. Arkansas has been strong in Eric Musselman’s first three seasons as head coach in Fayetteville, winning at least 20 games in each season. The Razorbacks have reached the Elite Eight in each of the last two seasons.

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