Ohio State Basketball: Sporting News Ranks Buckeyes No. 3 in Preseason Top 25

Scott PolacekFeatured ColumnistOctober 2, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 15:  Aaron Craft #4 of the Ohio State Buckeyes looks to passes the ball against the Loyola Greyhounds during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Consol Energy Center on March 15, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Well, at least one national media outlet thinks Ohio State's basketball team is going to be alright this season without Jared Sullinger and William Buford.

Sporting News released its preseason Top 25 poll, and the Buckeyes are sitting pretty in the third position. It is the Scarlet and Gray's defensive prowess that had the publication impressed.

With Aaron Craft on the ball and Amir Williams on the back line, Ohio State should be the nation's best defensive team.  

Craft is obviously a proven defender, and it is hard to argue with the indication that he could be the best on-ball defender in college basketball. But it is Sporting News' praise of Williams that really jumps out.

He was a McDonald's All-American in high school and was surrounded by noticeable hype as he came to Columbus. However, playing behind Sullinger is not the easiest way to earn playing time. If Williams plays up to his capabilities, which Sporting News clearly thinks he will, the Buckeyes can once again compete for a Big Ten title.

Nevertheless, the publication points out that, despite the lofty ranking, there is reason for concern in Buckeye Nation. 

On offense, the Buckeyes must be able to counter tactics designed to take star forward Deshaun Thomas out of the game. None of the top teams has less margin for error if a key player encounters a short-term injury. The toughest part for the Buckeyes might be surviving such a loaded Big Ten with what appears to be a low-firepower attack.

These are all valid points, especially the one about remaining healthy. Thad Matta is not exactly known for utilizing his bench, and an injury could be devastating. 

As for countering opposing defenses as they focus on Thomas, LaQuinton Ross' outside shot could be just what the doctor ordered. If he (like Williams) can live up to the hype that surrounded his recruiting, the Buckeyes could be more effective on offense than some think.

Overall, Buckeye fans have to be very pleased with this lofty ranking. After all, it's not everyday that a team loses its best player and finds itself in the top three the following year.