Ohio State Buckeyes (32-3, 16-2)
Big Ten Champion, Sweet 16 appearance (Defeated by Kentucky 62-60).
Coach Thad Matta (190-57 at OSU) returns for his eighth season.
Projected starting five:
So. F Jared Sullinger (Averaged 17.2 ppg, 10.2 rpg)
So. F Deshaun Thomas (High point scorer in four games last season)
Sr. G William Buford (44% 3-point average, only returning senior)
So. G Aaron Craft (Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year award winner)
Fr. C Amir Williams
David Lighty: 12.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.3 apg, 42.9 percent from 3-point range
Jon Diebler: 12.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.4 apg, 50.2 percent from 3-point range
Dallas Lauderdale: 4.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.5 blocks per game
Fr. PF Trey McDonald (Rivals.com three-star player)
Jr. PF Evan Ravenel (transfer from Boston College)
Fr. SF LaQuinton Ross (Rivals.com four-star player)
Fr. PG Shannon Scott (Rivals.com four-star player)
Fr. SF Sam Thompson (Rivals.com four-star player)
Fr. C Amir Williams (Rivals.com four-star player)
Ohio State adds forward Evan Ravenel, a transfer from Boston College, along with guard Shannon Scott and center Amir Williams, both McDonald’s All-American team members, as part of a loaded recruiting class. They should make an immediate impact coming off of the bench. The Buckeyes will need the young players to step up quickly after losing three starting seniors: G David Lighty, G Jon Diebler and F Dallas Lauderdale, who played prominent roles in last year’s campaign. Also, assistant coach Chris Jent returned to his alma mater after a brief stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Kevin Kuwik left Matta’s staff to head to Dayton.
Ohio State has one of the most difficult nonconference schedules in Division 1 basketball. They play Florida early and travel to Kansas right before a late season division stretch. But every Buckeye fan has circled Nov. 29. That is when the Duke Blue Devils come into Columbus in what could be a No. 1 vs. No. 2 midseason match up. Regardless of the outcome, Ohio State will have to either keep or gain momentum heading into the new year as the team faces a brutal stretch between Jan. 29 and Fed 18 that finds it playing Michigan twice, Wisconsin, Purdue and Michigan State. As long as they can keep their loss column miniscule, they should repeat as Big Ten champions.