When sophomore post player Jared Sullinger lumbered off the floor in New Orleans following Ohio State's painful 64-62 loss to Kansas in the 2012 Final Four, he didn't carry the Buckeyes' chances of returning to national prominence with him. It will certainly be hard for coach Thad Matta to replace the All-American power forward (who willl likely take his talents to the NBA). However, Matta welcomes back gritty point guard Aaron Craft, guard Lenzelle Smith Jr., and, most likely, sophomore forward Deshaun Thomas, who emerged as a potential future All-American with his outstanding play during Ohio State's run to the Final Four.
True, the Buckeyes also lose senior forward William Buford, who leaves as the school's No. 3 all-time scorer. But Buford's play was so up-and-down this season, it would not be a stretch to say that his returning teammates have already learned to compensate without having the 6'6" forward on the floor.
And it's not like teams don't get better sometimes when a prominent All-American leaves. Check your history books. In 1983, the Virginia Cavaliers were one of the most dominant teams in the country, led by center Ralph Sampson. Guess where the Cavaliers ended up at the end of the 1984 season? The Final Four.