#46 Ohio State Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Ohio State Buckeyes
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #46
Conference Rank: #7 Big Ten
Ohio State missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008. The Buckeyes were a very young and inexperienced team last year and it showed. The team had to settle for a trip to the NIT, where they needed overtime to defeat Akron in the first round before losing at home Florida in the second round. Those younger players are growing up now though and the usual high expectations are back. Also back is sophomore point guard JaQuan Lyle. His freshman campaign was up and down, but he averaged 11.2 points and 4.2 assists. With more consistent shooting and a better handle on the ball, Lyle will be in for a big sophomore season. And that year of experience should also help with his decision making and his shooting.
2015-16 Record: 21-14, 11-7
2015-16 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Thad Matta
Coach Record: 320-108 at Ohio State, 422-139 overall
Who’s Out:
Four of Lyle’s classmates opted to transfer after their freshman campaign and those are the only departures for OSU. Daniel Giddens, a 6-10 center, was the most productive last year, averaging 3.8 points and 3.6 rebounds in 18.2 minutes per game. Like Giddens, Mickey Mitchell earned seven starts in the frontcourt as a freshman. He showed flashes, but opted to continue his career elsewhere. Austin Grandstaff and A.J. Harris were the freshmen transfers out of the backcourt. Harris saw 13.7 minutes per game as the backup point guard and averaged 2.8 points and 1.7 assists.
Who’s In:
Once again Coach Thad Matta will have a solid group of newcomers who can at least provide depth. Some of the frontcourt depth will be provided by Andre Wesson, Derek Funderburk and Micah Potter. Wesson and Funderburk will likely need some time before they are major contributors. Potter should be thrown into the backup center spot and has a nice outside shot for a 6-9, 240 pound center. C.J. Jackson and Jimmy Jent are the newcomers on the perimeter. Jent transferred in from Wofford to join his father who is an assistant coach with the Buckeyes. Jackson has a year of experience too, at Eastern Florida State where he was an NJCAA second team All-American. He can handle the point and do enough scoring to play off of the ball too.
Who to Watch:
Technically Ohio State started four forwards around Lyle last season. Jae’Sean Tate and Marc Loving play more like guards though and will again start on the wing. Tate, a 6-4, 230 pound junior, is not much of a shooter, but he is very effective attacking the basket. Last season he shot 52.1 percent from the floor and that is an impressive number even if he is not taking too many outside shots. Loving is the more dynamic scorer. The 6-8 senior knocked down a team high 56 three-pointers and was the most fouled player on the team too. Loving can make things happen on offense and he should be in for a big senior season after averaging 14.0 points per game in 2015-2016. Keita Bates-Diop is another big, long forward who can score in a variety of ways. He averaged 11.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks as a sophomore. Like Loving, he too can shoot the long ball and attack the basket with his size and athleticism. Trevor Thompson is the more traditional big man who stays in the paint. The seven-footer blocked 1.2 shots per game and added 6.5 points and 5.1 rebounds. Coach Matta now has the option to bring in a center who can shoot with Potter joining the fray, but when the Buckeyes need a shot blocker and an experienced presence in the paint, Thompson will be on the floor.
Final Projection:
With all five starters back and the return of sixth man Kam Williams, Ohio State has a great foundation to build around. Williams is a 6-2 junior guard who provides instant offense off of the bench. He was by far the most consistent shooter on the team last year, knocking down 43.7 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. Despite the fact that there are shooters all over the floor, Ohio State does not really take that many three-pointers. Williams is one of the players who can help change that. There have been youth and inexperience problems at Ohio State recently and that has led to some inconsistent seasons. The Buckeyes will have to rely on some freshmen off of the bench this year, but the six returning regular contributors will eat up most of the minutes and that should propel Ohio State back to the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
JaQuan Lyle, Sophomore, Guard, 11.2 points per game
Jae’Sean Tate, Junior, Forward, 11.7 points per game
Marc Loving, Senior, Forward, 14.0 points per game
Keita Bates-Diop, Junior, Forward, 11.8 points per game
Trevor Thompson, Junior, Center, 6.5 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 70.3 (244th in nation, 10th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 68.0 (77, 7)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.9 (186, 9)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.4 (37, 4)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.3 (247, 12)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.4 (234, 11)
Free-Throw Percentage: 68.4 (230, 12)
Rebound Margin: 1.9 (124, 8)
Assists Per Game: 11.3 (301, 13)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.9 (196, 12)
Madness 2016 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#81 Derek Funderburk