Undefeated Season in the Cards For #1 Ohio State?


jared sullinger

Tuesday night’s game between top-ranked Ohio State and No. 12 Purdue – freshman phenom Jared Sullinger vs. the Moore/Johnson combo – had the makings for a classic Big Ten battle. Instead, it was a one-sided affair in favor of the Buckeyes as they embarrassed the Boilermakers 87-64.

To see where we forecast their first loss go here

By: Justin Mertes-Mistretta

Ohio State

It was the first time this season that six players – Buford, Sullinger, Diebler,Thomas, Craft and Lighty – scored in double figures for the Buckeyes. The win also moved Ohio State to 21-0 on the season, giving them the nation’s longest active winning streak (21 games).

Meaning it’s time to ask: can the Ohio State Buckeyes go undefeated the rest of the way?

History says it will be tough, since the last Ohio State team to go undefeated during the regular season was the John Havlicek and Jerry Lucas led team in 1961. Coach Matta’s only other notable undefeated start was in 2006 when his team started out 11-0, finishing with four losses by the end of the season. Not even the Greg Oden or Evan Turner led teams, in ’07 and ’10 respectively, could go undefeated.

Is this Ohio State team coach Matta’s best team yet?

A strong case can be made that there was addition by subtraction when the Buckeyes lost Turner. That’s not to say that he was overrated by any means. However, when you rely on a guy as much as they did, sometimes team chemistry and roles can become an issue. Oh yeah, it also helps to add a big guy like Jared Sullinger.

It’s hard to make a case for any team over the ’07 Buckeyes, because that team was flat out unbelievable. But this Ohio State team has a similar freshman combo with PG Aaron Craft and Jared Sullinger.  They also have an x-factor in wingman Deshaun Thomas, who is being overlooked as one of the best freshman in the country.

What makes this team so scary is the blend of young talent and experience – seniors David Lighty, Jon Diebler, and Dallas Lauderdale; something the ’07 team did not possess.

Delonte West and Jameer NelsonNot only is Ohio State in an elite class in terms of school history, they are flirting with the best teams in NCAA history. Since 1939, there have been 24 teams to go undefeated in the regular season – seven of them went on to win the national championship.

However, it has been seven years since a team -’04 St. Joseph’s – has finished the regular season undefeated. Unlike St. Joseph’s , Ohio State doesn’t have the luxury of playing in the A-10 Conference. Not to take anything away from the Hawks, but I think everyone would agree that the Big Ten is much more competitive than the A-10. Aside from the Big East, the Big Ten could be argued as the toughest conference in the nation.

With remaining games at Minnesota, against Wisconsin (twice), at Purdue, and against Illinois, this team has it’s work cut out for them to go undefeated. The toughest may be their game against Wisconsin at the Kohl Center, where Thad Matta has never won.

Also, don’t be foolish to think, based on Tuesday night’s outcome, that a road game against Purdue will be a cakewalk. This Boilermaker team is still top-15 and will be motivated to prove themselves in the rematch.

It is always hard to go undefeated because once you get a streak going, teams put a target on your back. For this reason, it may be in Ohio State’s best interest to experience a few losses before the regular season ends. It would be a good learning experience for the freshmen. More importantly, it could alleviate the added pressure of going unbeaten; which could help this team focus on the ultimate goal of winning a National Championship.

To see where we forecast their first loss go here

Justin Mertes-Mistretta is a senior editor for the Sports Bank.net mainly covering the NFL, NBA playoffs, college basketball (Ohio State), and fantasy football. Follow him on twitter at MertesMist_tsb or become a fan of his blog here.

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