Know your Opponent: Ohio State
THE Ohio State University rolls into Charleston S.C ranked fourth in the first college basketball rankings. They will rightfully be the favorites in the matchup against Marquette, but don’t expect Thad Matta to drop his gum and then pick it up and start chewing it in preparation for the Warriors. Matta is entering his seventh season as head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes and has two Final Fours on his resume. Last year’s Final Four team lost sharp shooting William Buford and All-American Jared Sullinger.
However, the Buckeyes return quite the punch in this season’s team and it all starts with star point guard Aaron Craft. The Ohio native averaged almost nine points and five assists last season and when Craft is moving the ball around the court, the Ohio State offense is hard to stop.
Craft will look to get the ball to pre-season All-American DeShaun Thomas as much as possible. The 6-7 forward is one of the nation’s best and averaged 16 points and 5 rebounds as a sophomore last year. Thomas will be a hard person to guard whether Buzz Williams decides to put Jamil Wilson or Vander Blue on the Buckeyes best player.
Besides Craft and Thomas, OSU has immense talent across their roster. Look for junior guard Lenzelle Smith, Jr to be the third scoring option throughout the season and rounding out the expected starting line-up are big men LaQuinton Ross and Amir Williams. Ross 6-8 and Williams 6-11 give the Buckeyes a huge size advantage over any team and allows Thomas to slide over to his normal small forward position.
With that impressive size on the court no one should be surprised to know that Ohio State doesn’t exactly like to run up and down the court. The Buckeyes are a Big Ten team and while they aren’t Bo Ryan Wisconsin Badgers slow, they aren’t exactly the Oregon Ducks football team either. The tempo for the Buckeyes will be slow all season long and they will try to work the shot clock down to single digits and get a good open shot.
Some people may call this style of basketball boring, myself included, but with the success Ohio State has had in recent years, it is hard to argue with results. Teams that can push the ball up and down the court, like Marquette, will have a chance to beat the Buckeyes and get them out of their comfort zone. While the basketball team has better restrain than the universities football team, they don’t sell their championship rings; they do have enough athleticism and swagger to beat any team in the nation this year.