Last year was a fantastic season for Ohio State. They finished 31-8 and made it to the Final Four. The Buckeyes were led by Jared Sullinger and senior William Buford. However, both of those men are gone, with Sullinger being drafted by the Boston Celtics and Buford, who went undrafted, playing in Spain. Now, the Buckeyes must regroup and find success with different faces. Here are three reasons they can be successful this year.
#3 Thad Matta is an extremely underrated coach. He is, in my mind, the second best coach in the Big Ten behind Tom Izzo. He has shown an ability to recruit top-level talent and develop them into NBA players. Matta has some younger players who should explode this year, and I will talk about them a little bit later. He also is a good in game coach and has an ability to win big games. In twelve years coaching college basketball, Matta has made it to the NCAA Tournament eleven times. I see no reason they won’t make it this season, as a high seed.
#2 As I just mentioned, Ohio State has some exceptional young talent that can play a big part this year. LaQuinton Ross is a very skilled 6-8 ft wing player who was very highly touted out of high school. Last year, as a freshman, Ross had eligibility issues which slowed down his progress. However, this year he should be able to break out thanks to more minutes and likely an improved game. Another talented sophomore is Sam Thompson. Thompson is very similar to Ross. He is also a tall and lanky super-athletic wing player. Buford’s graduation will allow for more minutes for both of these players, and I expect both of them to be big pieces this year.
#1 The top reason I believe Ohio State can be successful this year are their upperclassmen. Point guard Aaron Craft, and forward DeShaun Thomas are the only truly proven players on this Buckeyes team. Both of them are one of the best in the country from their position. Craft is very good at running an offense and will be able to get the ball to the younger players in good positions to score. He is also a terrific on ball defender as well as a good jump shooter. Thomas is the all-around package. He can score inside and out as well as get physical inside. If these two players play to their potential, they should be able to lead this young team.