10 Reasons Why the Ohio State Buckeyes Will Win the National Championship
This year's college basketball season will be a treat for many fans around the country. The Ohio State Buckeyes are primed for a title run, due a strong returning roster blending in with a great recruiting class.
The sky is the limit for the Buckeyes this season. Anything less than a title run will be looked at as a failure. With a pre-season ranking of No. 3 the Buckeyes have to live up to their billing.
Despite losing a strong senior class to graduation and the NBA, the Bucks are still a threat to win the National Championship. Like all College Basketball seasons, it is important to play your best ball in the month of March.
A prime example of that is the Connecticut Huskies. The Huskies started their run in the Big East Tournament and never looked back.
Last season, the Buckeyes played flawless basketball until they reached the Wildcats in the Sweet Sixteen. There are many factors that may have contributed to the loss; lack of depth, fatigue and the Wildcats simply out played the Buckeyes down the stretch. Also, Jared Sullinger did not play his best against Josh Harrellson and William Buford was invincible.
The taste of defeat left a bad taste in the Buckeyes mouth and they have more than enough motivation to improve on last seasons 34-3 record. It is quite frightening to say that a team can improve after a season like that. This comes to show you that the group of kids that Thad Matta has are hungry and determined to reach their full potential.
It will take a collective effort to win the NCAA title. The road to New Orleans started last Friday for the Buckeyes against a lowly Wright State team.
The Buckeyes will face real tests in their non-conference games against Duke, Kansas and Florida. By playing against these teams, it will prepare them for the NCAA tournament. There is no better measuring stick by playing against three top teams from three of the most competitive conferences.
Memo to the fans: Fasten your seat belts, because it will be a great ride this season. Hopefully the train will stop in New Orleans.
The New Improved Jared Sullinger
Unanimous pre-Season All-American selection, Jared Sullinger was arguably the best player in college basketball last season.
With an old school style of play, blending an off the charts basketball IQ Sullinger was unstoppable. This upcoming season Sullinger has a target on his back due to last season's success. This season's he will look a lot different than the freshman who dominated college basketball.
Sullinger has trimmed weight and is lean and mean. He always had the ability to shoot the ball from the outside, but will be looked to face the basket more than he did during his freshman season.
With Sullinger dominating the paint and adding a consistent 15 foot jump shot there will be no answer for stopping Sully.
Head coach Thad Matta has had the keys to the engine since the 2004-05 season.
During Matta's tenure the Buckeyes have never failed to win 20 games. He has been great for the Buckeyes and will be for years to come.
Last season, Matta may have done his best coaching job. Prior to last season the Buckeyes were not looked at as a number one team in the country, due to the departure of Evan Turner. Many people expected the Buckeyes to falter a bit, but they actually improved.
Matta will have another challenge this season by replacing a strong senior class.
The Play of William Buford & Aaron Craft
William Buford and Aaron Craft are arguably one of the best backcourts in the country.
Craft is a feisty defender with the ability to create for teammates. This season, he will have to increase his scoring, but this should not be a problem with his knack for getting to the bucket and a solid mid range jump shot.
Craft may be the best perimeter defender in the Big Ten. With his quick feet, toughness and grit he creates havoc for opposing point guards.
The elder statesmen Buford makes scoring look effortless. He has all the tools on the offensive end of the ball, making him a nightmare for opposing defenses. There are not too many shooting guards in college basketball that has size, skill, athleticism and basketball IQ that Buford has.
Good luck to the opposing guards who have the assignment to have to deal with these two.
In all sports, chemistry is something that cannot be coached. Chemistry is gained over time, and with this team, this is one of its strong points.
Familiarity with coaches and players are often overlooked. Coach Matta has been around majority of his players and knows what to expect out of each of them. The three headed monster in Sullinger, Buford and Craft have experience playing valuable minutes on the court with each other.
This team will only get better over time due to the familiarity between the coaching staff and the players.
Last Season's Shortcomings
The Buckeyes losing to the Kentucky Wildcats in the Sweet Sixteen will provide motivation for the Buckeyes this upcoming season.
Senior William Buford played one of his worse games as a Buckeye and is looking to bounce back with a strong senior campaign. With one and done players being a tradition around college basketball, Jared Sullinger bucked the trend and returned for his sophomore season to have a chance at bringing the National Title to his hometown.
It may sound cliché, but if one should succeed, they would have to trump their failures to reach success. The Buckeyes have more than enough reason to be motivated for the 2011-12 season.
Versatility is key when making a title run. This season there are several Buckeyes who add versatility to this year's team. Newcomers Amir Williams, Trey Mcdonald and Shannon Scott are all interchangeable and are able to play multiple positions.
Matta may feature lineups with Sullinger at the power forward position giving him the opportunity to play more of his natural position.
Teaming up speedy Shannon Scott with Aaron Craft and William Buford on the perimeter can create havoc for opposing teams. Sophomore J.D. Weatherspoon has the ability to defend multiple positions, due to his freakish athletic ability.
On the defensive side of the ball the Buckeyes will miss David Lighty's versatility. The Bucks will have large shoes to fill and it will take a plethora of players rather than one person filling the void.
Thad Matta is known for not playing a lot of guys in his rotations. Last season, Matta may have had one of his tightest rotations ever. Matta featured a seven man rotation with Craft and Thomas coming off of the bench gaining quality minutes.
This season, the Buckyes have a lot of depth compared to the past few seasons. Matta is looking to play a 9-10 man rotation, which will help the team in the long run.
This Buckeye team may be the deepest team in quite some time. In the past, players such as Evan Turner, David Lighty, Jared Sullinger and Mike Conley were players who rarely came off of the floor. A lot of the reason for that was because of their talent level, but at the same time, there were not many replacements that could have spelled them for minutes at a time.
Strength of Schedule
The Bucks have a tough non-conference schedule this season. Games against national powerhouses Duke, Florida and Kansas will give the Bucks a chance to measure their talent against top foes this season.
Combining the tough non-conference schedule and the tough play in the Big Ten Conference, the Bucks should be prepared when the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments come around.
Core Players Are Battle Tested
By losing David Lighty, Dallas Lauderdale and Jon Diebler to the NBA and graduation, the Buckeyes lost three seniors who had a huge impact on the Buckeyes.
Despite losing a strong senior class, the Bucks still have enough experience to be a force to be reckoned with. The Buckeyes core players Jared Sullinger, William Buford, Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas have experienced the rigors of a long college basketball season.
Buford is the Buckeye with the most experience, playing a total of 109 games during his tenure as a Buckeye. Buford has been apart of three teams that played in the NCAA Tournament team as well as playing for two Big Ten Championships.
Sullinger, Craft and Thomas may only be sophomores, but all three players played crucial roles last season aiding the Bucks to Sweet Sixteen birth.
The Tough Play of Buckeye Basketball
In this era of basketball, the game is more finesse than anything else.
The Big Ten conference is known for playing a tough brand of basketball, but the Buckeyes blend toughness and athleticism quite well. The Big Ten conference is usually successful in tournament play due to their ability to rebound and play defense.