#13 Ohio State Buckeyes: College Basketball 111 in 111


ohio state buckeyes cheerleaders

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s third annual college basketball season preview series.  Two years we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  Last year, we were slightly more aggressive and expanded to 111 teams in 111 days and will do so again as we look ahead to the 2012-2013 season.

We will rank the 75 power conference teams and top 36 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

Ohio State tips off the college basketball season tonight on the deck of the USS Yorktown when they host Marquette.  It certainly says something about what Thad Matta has built the Buckeyes program into when they lost both Jared Sullinger and William Buford, yet are still a top five ranked team in the preseason polls.  As you can tell, I am not that high on OSU this year since they have some big shoes to fill.

Last Season: T-1st, 13-5 in Big Ten, 31-8 overall
Predicted Big Ten Finish: 3rd

Projected Depth Chart
C: Amir Williams (So)/Trey McDonald (So)
F: DeShaun Thomas (Jr)/Evan Ravenel (Sr)
G/F: LaQuinton Ross (So)/Sam Thompson (So)
SG: Lenzelle Smith (Jr)/Amedeo Della Valle (Fr)
PG: Aaron Craft (Jr)/Shannon Scott (So)

Gone: C-Jared Sullinger, SG-Willian Buford, SG-Jordan Sibert (transfer-Dayton), F-J.D. Weatherspoon (transfer-Toledo)

2012-2013 Outlook:
With Sullinger and Buford gone, DeShaun Thomas becomes the go-scorer.  Getting buckets has never been an issue for the lefty as he is a difficult match-up defensively because of his ability to shoot the three, attack the basket, and use his strength to post up smaller defenders.  He does get too shot happy at times and needs to improve as a defender but is well-deserving of being on the preseason Wooden Award List.

Joining Thomas on that list is junior point guard Aaron Craft.  If you appreciate basketball, you cannot help but love how hard Craft competes on both ends of the floor especially on D’ where he is one of the best on-the-ball defenders in college basketball.  He is used to deferring to others on the offensive end but must become a more aggressive scorer to help take some of the load off Thomas.

Those are the two constants for Ohio State this season but there are plenty of variable as to how successful the team will be.  The biggest hole is in the middle where 6-11 sophomore Amir Williams is expected to take over.  He is nowhere near the scorer Sullinger was but brings a ton more on the defensive end as a rim protector.  Evan Ravenel will return to his role as an energetic and physical option off the bench while Trey McDonald isn’t likely to see a whole lot of floor time since Matta usually utilizes a pretty tight rotation.

Like Williams, LaQuinton Ross is another guy expected to make major strides this season after barely playing a year ago.  His length, athleticism, and versatility provides Matta with some versatility in the frontcourt.  Elite athlete Sam Thompson will once again be a valuable reserve.  He has incredible ups and is a solid defender but is still improving his all-around offensive game.

Lenzelle Smith returns to start at shooting guard.  He proved to be a capable scorer at times but for the most part, was used more as a glue guy type player because of all the talent surrounding him.  That will need to change this year and he will need to be more consistent and aggressive as an offensive weapon.  Shannon Scott figures to see minutes as the back-up point guard and shooting guard while freshman Amedeo Della Valle will likely have to wait his turn.

OSU doesn’t have a ton of depth but that shouldn’t be an issue for Matta who typically only uses a seven-man rotation, eight at tops.  The impact that guys like Williams and Ross make right away will be the difference between the Buckeyes being a Final Four contender or second tier Big Ten program.

Player to Watch: Aaron Craft
I had the opportunity to interview Craft one-on-one for the first time at the Big Ten Media Day.  I was already a huge fan of his game on the court and that basketball man crush grew even more after our conversation.  In case you missed my feature from earlier this week, tonight’s Carrier Classic game will have special meaning for both he and his family.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/9 vs. Marquette (on USS Yorktown)
11/17 vs. Rhode Island (Hall of Fame Tip-Off)
11/18 vs. Washington/Seton Hall (Hall of Fame Tip-Off)
11/28 at Duke (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)
12/8 vs. Long Beach State
12/22 vs. Kansas

OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#14 Arizona Wildcats
#15 North Carolina Tar Heels
#16 Michigan State Spartans
#17 UCLA Bruins
#18 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
#19 Cincinnati Bearcats
#20 Marquette Golden Eagles
#21 Creighton Bluejays
#22 Gonzaga Bulldogs
#23 Minnesota Golden Gophers
#24 Memphis Tigers
#25 Baylor Bears
#26 Wisconsin Badgers
#27 Tennessee Volunteers
#28 Pitt Panthers
#29 New Mexico Lobos
#30 St. Mary’s Gaels
#31 Georgetown Hoyas
#32 North Texas Mean Green
#33 Ohio Bobcats
#34 Texas Longhorns
#35 Miami Hurricanes
#36 Purdue Boilermakers
#37 Alabama Crimson Tide
#38 St. Joseph’s Hawks
#39 Murray State Racers
#40 VCU Rams
#41 Davidson Wildcats
#42 Stanford Cardinal
#43 UMass Minutemen
#44 St. John’s Red Storm
#45 Butler Bulldogs
#46 Florida State Seminoles
#47 Drexel Dragons
#48 St. Louis Billikens
#49 West Virginia Mountaineers
#50 BYU Cougars
#51 Temple Owls
#52 Washington Huskies
#53 California Golden Bears
#54 Kansas State Wildcats
#55 Nevada Wolfpack
#56 Colorado Buffaloes
#57 Iowa State Cyclones
#58 Northern Iowa Panthers
#59 Colorado State Rams
#60 Iowa Hawkeyes
#61 South Florida Bulls
#62 Valparaiso Crusaders
#63 Illinois Fighting Illini
#64 Arkansas Razorbacks
#65 Wichita State Shockers
#66 George Mason Patriots
#67 Virginia Cavaliers
#68 Villanova Wildcats
#69 Maryland Terrapins
#70 Marshall Thundering Herd
#71 Iona Gaels
#72 Northwestern Wildcats
#73 Oklahoms State Cowboys
#74 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#75 USC Trojans
#76 UConn Huskies
#77 Harvard Crimson
#78 Xavier Musketeers
#79 Ole Miss Rebels
#80 Clemson Tigers
#81 Oregon State Beavers
#82 Texas A&M Aggies
#83 Providence Friars
#84 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#85 Oklahoma Sooners
#86 Lehigh Mountain Hawks
#87 Washington State Cougars
#88 Long Beach State 49ers
#89 Belmont Bruins
#90 Vanderbilt Commodores
#91 Dayton Flyers
#92 Houston Cougars
#93 UCF Knights
#94 Old Dominion Monarchs
#95 Oregon Ducks
#96 LSU Tigers
#97 South Carolina Gamecocks
#98 Seton Hall Pirates
#99 Georgia Bulldogs
#100 DePaul Blue Demons
#101 Boston College Eagles
#102 Penn State Nittany Lions
#103 Arizona State Sun Devils
#104 Virginia Tech Hokies
#105 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#108 TCU Horned Frogs
#109 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#110 Utah Utes
#111 Nebraska Cornhuskers

David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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