As we put the finishing touches on another season of non-conference play in college basketball, we can take stock of where a lot of programs are, and where they are not.
In the Big Ten, the #2 Ohio State Buckeyes are clearly the class of the league. Yes, Wisconsin and Michigan are also ranked and we know they can ball. The Indiana Hoosiers are way better than any of us anticipated. Illinois, Michigan State, Minnesota, Purdue and Northwestern could all be solid, or they could all be NIT. All of these teams have struggled putting away the scrubs, while OSU blows all their scrub opponents out of the water.
I think the Buckeyes aren’t just the best team in the conference, but also the nation. Why because now they have an Aaron Craft to complement a Jared Sullinger.
Coach Thad Matta talked about Craft’s energy after the 69-40 win over Miami.
“That’s the thing we’ve been telling guys is to play more off him. I hope he becomes even more contagious. He’s kind of everywhere and sometimes the other four guys are out there watching him. I singled him out in film in a positive way that we should all be like this.”
William Buford, senior guard noticed how much Craft brings to the table too.
“I think we can do a lot better, especially if I put more points on the board. Going into the Big Ten 12-1 is pretty good, but we have to pick it up. If everyone had the same intensity on defense as Aaron Craft we would be fine, we just have to pick it up.”
There were concerns about Buford’s health after he got hurt in the last game, but obviously he proved he’s just fine tonight. The Buckeyes only loss came at Allen Field House which is always a tough place to play; especially when you’re without your Naismith, Wooden and All-American award candidate in Jared Sullinger. But now they have two players of that caliber as Aaron Craft has become a really good second banana. Even better for the Buckeyes is that he complements Sully’s skill set so perfectly.
The Buckeyes are No. 2 in average turnover margin in the country with +8.0 per game; they’re averaging 18.6 apg, which places them No. 7 in the country. Those numbers tell the story of how great the point guard play (Craft) has been.
Charlie Coles, Miami head coach talked about what makes Ohio State go.
“We played against what I think is the best team in the country, the smartest team in the country. This team beats you because Aaron Craft takes his time, doesn’t gamble and runs the offense. Then you have the big guy Sullinger, Buford and the wildcard Thomas. Plus, there’s Smith, who just plays hard all the time. They’re great.”
Of course, Matta believes they’re far from a finished product, and at this stage of the season who is?
“We just have so far to go with continuing to mature and doing the little things to make us a better basketball team. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we’re still a young team. We have some battles coming up, we have to be ready,” Matta said.
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site that generates millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports
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