Ohio State Basketball: Do Buckeyes Need a Go-To Scorer to Win the Big Ten?

Doug BrodessCorrespondent IDecember 1, 2013

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 12:  Aaron Craft #4 of the Ohio State Buckeyes drives against Antonio Campbell #3 of the Ohio Bobcats during the second half at Value City Arena on November 12, 2013 in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Ohio 79-69. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Most college basketball teams that contend for conference and national championships have a go-to scorer or two who lead the team and usually have the ball in their hands at the end of the game.

For example, the 2013 NCAA champs, Louisville Cardinals, featured the offensive stylings of Russ Smith.

The 2012 NCAA champs, Kentucky Wildcats, who had five players that averaged double-figure scoring, were paced by Anthony Davis.

Last year's Big Ten champs, Indiana Hoosiers, showcased both Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo.

Looking at the 2013-14 Ohio State Buckeyes, we do not clearly see who their scoring leaders are.

The simple question that needs to be answered is: "Do the Buckeyes need a go-to scorer to win the Big Ten conference?"

The answer to that is a firm "No."

Why? The following two factors help us see why Ohio State head coach Thad Matta will not need to press one player into this role.


DAYTON, OH - MARCH 22: LaQuinton Ross #10 of the Ohio State Buckeyes handles the ball against Tavon Sledge #3 of the Iona Gaels in the second half during the second round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at UD Arena on March 22, 2013 in Dayton
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Unique balance

This year's OSU team is distinctively constructed.

After six games, three Buckeyes (Lenzelle Smith Jr., Amir Williams and Aaron Craft) are currently tied for the team lead in scoring (11.3 points per game).

So far, four different players have led the team in individual game scoring: Smith (twice), Williams (twice), Craft and Shannon Scott.

By having several players who are each able to step up and get it done, Ohio State's future opponents will have to play everyone on the floor straight up.

Very few teams have this many scoring options from which to choose.


LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 28:  Lenzelle Smith, Jr. #32 of the Ohio State Buckeyes goes up for a shot against Kaleb Tarczewski #35 of the Arizona Wildcats in the second half during the West Regional of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Staples Cen
Harry How/Getty Images

Extensive Experience

The members of Ohio State's starting five have logged a lot of minutes coming into the 2013-14 season.

Aaron Craft, the Buckeyes floor general, has played in 119 collegiate games, averaging over 32 minutes per game (MPG).

Lenzelle Smith Jr. logged over 25 MPG in each his sophomore and junior seasons.

More than just considering actual minutes played, these Buckeyes have played in some really big games.

In the last three years, Ohio State has played in the 2011 Sweet 16, 2012 National Semifinal and the 2013 Elite Eight.

They have played in the Big Ten Conference tournament championship the last three years, winning in 2011 and 2013.

Craft has had the ball in his hands at the end of numerous games, including nailing a last-second shot to beat Iowa State in last year's round of 32.

Small forward LaQuinton Ross knocked down a three-pointer with two seconds to play against Arizona in last year's Sweet 16.

With all of this big-game expertise, multiple players are prepared to shoulder the go-to role when called upon in the future.


Looking Ahead

As they make their way through their punishing Big Ten schedule, the Buckeyes will play in plenty of games that will be determined in the final seconds.

Matta can draw up countless options to close out those close contests.

Instead of a predictable go-to player, Ohio State can legitimately give the ball to anyone on the court.