Can the Ohio State Buckeyes Compete for a National Championship This Season?

Samuel SicaAnalyst INovember 14, 2010

ST. LOUIS - MARCH 26:  Head coach Thad Matta of the Ohio State Buckeyes reacts to a call against one of his players in the first half against the Tennessee Volunteers during the midwest regional semifinal of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Edward Jones Dome on March 26, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

The Buckeyes have not won a championship since 1960 and I believe that this could be the year that Ohio State makes a serious threat in breaking that streak.

Ohio State has four out of their five starters returning from last season with Evan Turner leaving for the NBA. Turner was the key player for the Buckeyes last season and his absence will be felt immensely because no one player can fill the shoes of Turner; but as a whole, Ohio State can fill that void and make believers out of everyone by doing what they accomplished in their season opener against North Carolina A&T.

I understand that Ohio State will have to play against teams that are tougher than North Carolina A&T, but with the core players that they have I believe they will be a team to watch to compete for the championship this season.

The starters that Ohio State have returning from last season include William Buford, David Lighty, Jon Diebler and Dallas Lauderdale. The Buckeyes also have added some talented players to go along with their core four starters with the additions of Deshaun Thomas, Jared Sullinger and Aaron Craft.

These freshmen have already been turning heads as Sullinger had an impressive double-double in his Buckeye debut by scoring 19 points to go along with 14 rebounds and Thomas led the team in scoring with 24 points off the bench. Aaron Craft also made his presence known by scoring eight points to go along with nine assists in his debut.

The Buckeyes will face a big challenge in their second game of the season when they head down south to the Sunshine State to face the Florida Gators. Florida is ranked No. 11 in the polls and is the only ranked team that the Buckeyes will face until they play Illinois in late January.

In my opinion, Ohio State has a favorable out-of-conference schedule, but they will face some tough competition once they start Big Ten play at the end of December.

Ohio State is one out of the five teams that are currently ranked in the top 25 teams in the nation with the other four being Michigan State (two), Purdue (eight), Illinois (16) and Wisconsin (24). I believe the Buckeyes will win the Big Ten championship, as well as make it into the championship game in the NCAA tournament because of the two big men that play underneath the basket in Dallas Lauderdale and Jared Sullinger.

Both players are taller than 6'8” and the rest of the team is no slouch either as all players are at least six-feet tall. Ohio State has an extreme height advantage in my opinion, and that will create favorable matchups for the Buckeyes once they start their in-conference schedule.

Ohio State will also be a threat to win it all this season because of the sheer experience factor since the Buckeyes have four of their five starters returning from last season. The Buckeyes are a well-coached team and under the tutelage of Thad Matta, the Ohio State freshmen will be ready to play game-in and game-out.

Ohio State will be ready to play once the tournament begins in March and do not be surprised if the Buckeyes are the champions when it is all said and done.