Big Ten Team Previews: Ohio State Buckeyes

Posted by KTrahan on October 30th, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the Big Ten microsite will be rolling out the featured breakdowns of each of the 12 league schools. Today’s release is the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Where We Left Off: Last season, Ohio State got off to an impressive start, beating No. 8 Florida in the second game of the season and blowing out No. 4 Duke by 22 points in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. However, a Jared Sullinger injury brought the Buckeyes back to earth in Lawrence, Kansas, and they dealt with some periodic inconsistency in the Big Ten. However, OSU still made a run in the NCAA Tournament, knocking off Cincinnati and Syracuse en route to a Final Four loss against that same Kansas team. The Buckeyes lost Sullinger and William Buford, but return a number of returning solid players, putting them in position for yet another deep NCAA Tournament run.

Thad Matta Has Gotten to the Point of Annual Final Four Expectations in Columbus

Positives: The biggest positive on Ohio State is how much talent the Buckeyes return. You know you’re a good team when you can bury top recruits on the bench and still have one of the best teams in the country. Junior forward DeShaun Thomas is a favorite to become this season’s breakout player of the year and OSU also returns top junior point guard and defensive dynamo Aaron Craft. The Buckeyes also have a lot of talent in junior guard Lenzelle Smith, Jr., who was somewhat inconsistent last year, but showed his potential at times. Add in sophomore forward Sam Thompson and sophomore center Amir Williams, and this could still be the most talented lineup in the Big Ten. If OSU can put things together by the end of the season, this will be a very dangerous team in March again.

Negatives: What this Ohio State team has in talent, it lacks in experience. Craft is experienced at his position by now, and while Thomas brings a lot of hype, he wasn’t a superstar last year. Then there are Smith and Thompson, who were at best inconsistent last season, and center Amir Williams, who is also talented but barely played last year. The story is the same on the bench, with players like LaQuinton Ross and Shannon Scott, both highly-touted recruits who have yet to prove themselves on a college floor. This team is full of talent but short on experience, and in college basketball, that’s not necessarily a good thing.

Best Case: Ohio State starts off the season with a tough Marquette team in the Carrier Classic. If the Buckeyes win that one, they’ll have some momentum rolling into an ACC/Big Ten Challenge game at Duke. Later in the non-conference season, OSU gets a visit from Kansas, and it’s entirely possible that the Buckeyes could win those three games and be among the nation’s top teams by the time Big Ten play rolls around. If so, perhaps DeShaun Thomas becomes the player everyone is expecting and the rest of the young guys step up — particularly Sam Thompson, who becomes the next Buckeye household name in the sport. OSU wins the Big Ten and gets another one-seed, rolling all the way to the Final Four. From there, anything can happen.

Worst Case: The “worst case” for a team like Ohio State can’t be too bad, but if inexperience trumps talent, the Buckeyes could have a disappointing year and suffer a drop-off from a preseason No. 4 ranking. OSU beats Marquette to start the year, but Duke gets revenge for last year’s beatdown in Columbus and Kansas wins a nail-biter at OSU this time around. The Buckeyes struggle with inconsistency in the Big Ten, beating some top teams but losing to inferior ones, and can’t get their young players to step up as hoped. They drop to a No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament and are upset by a No. 9 in the first round as a fitting end to a trying season.

Projected Lineup:

  • PG — Aaron Craft (Jr)
  • SG — Lenzelle Smith, Jr. (Jr)
  • SF — Sam Thompson (So)
  • PF — DeShaun Thomas (Jr)
  • C — Amir Williams (So)

Key Reserves: LaQuinton Ross (So, F), Shannon Scott (So, PG), Evan Ravenel (Sr, F), Trey McDonald (So, C), Amedeo Della Valle (Fr, G)

The Lineup: Three spots here — Craft, Smith and Thomas — are all but set. Thompson is also a pretty safe bet after proving himself as the team’s most consistent sophomore last season. That leaves the center spot, where we project Amir Williams to win the starting job — at least by the Big Ten season — but not matter who starts, OSU will certainly show different looks. In a traditional lineup, Ravenel could start at center initially, but Williams is more talented and should take over at some point. There’s also the possibility of Thad Matta going small at times and playing Thomas at the five spot. With lots of talent at his disposal, there are a number of options for OSU’s lineup, but our projection meshes a solid combination of talent, experience and size on the floor.

KTrahan (60 Posts)

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