#76 Ohio State Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview

Ohio State Buckeyes

2017-2018 Overall Rank: #76
Conference Rank: #10 Big Ten

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After failing to earn an NCAA Tournament bid for the second straight season, Ohio State decided to move on from the Thad Matta coaching era. Seeing a new coach on the sidelines for the Buckeyes will be an adjustment, but Chris Holtmann should be up for the challenge. Holtmann took Butler to the NCAA Tournament in each of his three years as head coach there and will be expected to get the Buckeyes back to the Big Dance. Ohio State will lose some key contributors from last season, but Holtmann was able to secure three freshman commitments to help rebuild the roster. Inexperience has been an excuse the last two seasons, but this year's Buckeyes return six players that were rotation players last season, so improvement will be expected.
2016-17 Record: 17-15, 7-11
2016-17 Postseason: None
Coach: Chris Holtmann
Coach Record: 0-0 at Ohio State, 114-85 overall
Who's Out:
The biggest loss to the Buckeyes may not be a player, but instead Coach Thad Matta who won't return after 13 seasons at Ohio State. Matta had failed to get Ohio State to the NCAA Tournament the last two seasons, but winning five Big Ten championships and going to two Final Four's will cement Matta's legacy in Columbus. Ohio State will also be without three of the top four scorers from last year's team. Marc Loving was the lone senior last season for the Buckeyes and has now graduated. Loving scored 12.3 points per game last season and hit a team-high 58 3-pointers. Trevor Thompson decided to leave the program after his junior year to pursue professional basketball. Thompson scored 10.6 points per game and led the team in rebounding with 9.2 boards per game. Thompson also led the Buckeyes in blocked shots, field goal percentage and double-doubles. Lastly, JaQuan Lyle's Ohio State career ended after he reportedly quit the team in April 2017. News of his departure didn't surface until Lyle was arrested a month later. Lyle was third on the team in scoring with 11.4 points per game and led the team in assists with 4.6 per game.
Who's In:
Despite the late coaching change, Coach Chris Holtmann will have an impressive group of freshmen joining his roster this season. Holtmann was able to get four-star 6-6 forward Kyle Young to flip his Butler commitment and join him at Ohio State. Young was ranked as the number two player in Ohio behind his 18 points and 6.5 rebounds per game as a senior. The Buckeyes also secured the top ranked player in Ohio, Kaleb Wesson. Wesson is a 6-9 center who will immediately help replace Thompson's production down low. Holtmann was also able to add a late commitment from three-star guard Musa Jallow in July. Jallow reclassified to the 2017 class and will be able to provide guard depth for the Buckeyes this season. Ohio State will also add Andrew Dakich, a grad transfer from Michigan. Dakich appeared in 24 games for Michigan last season and will bring veteran leadership to the Ohio State backcourt and locker room.
Who to Watch:
The leader of this season's Buckeyes will be senior Jae'Sean Tate. Tate led the team in scoring last season with 14.3 points per game and was second in rebounding with 6.4 per game. Tate stands just 6-4 but plays much bigger than his size. Tate scored in double digits in 29 of 32 contests and tallied five double-doubles. The health of Keita Bates-Diop this season will be a welcome sight for Ohio State fans. Bates-Diop only played in nine games last season before suffering a stress fracture in his left leg. When Bates-Diop was a full-time starter two years ago, he was second on the team in scoring, and the Buckeyes hope he regains that form this season. Kam Williams and C.J. Jackson are also back after finishing last season as Ohio State's starting backcourt. Williams started 29 games, scoring 9.4 points per game and ranking second on the team with 50 3-pointers made. Jackson started the last nine games of the season at point guard, in which he averaged 10.0 points and 2.8 assists per game. Andre Wesson and Micah Potter both return as role players for the Buckeyes. Wesson, brother to freshman Kaleb, averaged 2.3 points in 29 appearances last season. Potter appeared in 30 games as a freshman, including 12 starts.
Final Projection:
Ohio State will begin the first chapter of the Chris Holtmann era with a good amount of talent and experience. Despite losing three of the top four scorers from last season, Ohio State returns six experienced contributors while also adding three talented freshmen and a veteran grad transfer. Holtmann did an excellent job in his three years as Butler head coach, getting them to the NCAA Tournament each season. The Buckeyes haven't gone dancing in two seasons, and the expectations are always high in Colombus. If Holtmann is able to get the most out of his team, then Ohio State should be able to compete in the Big Ten again. Getting to nine Big Ten wins and into the NCAA Tournament discussion should be doable this season.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
C.J. Jackson, Sophomore, Guard, 5.6 points per game
Kam Williams, Senior, Guard, 9.4 points per game
Jae'Sean Tate, Senior, Forward, 14.3 points per game
Keita Bates-Diop, Junior, Forward, 9.7 points per game
Kaleb Wesson, Freshman, Center, DNP last season
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 72.8 (185th in nation, 7th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 69.8 (111, 10)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.3 (72, 5)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.6 (60, 7)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.6 (244, 11)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.6 (141, 9)
Free-Throw Percentage: 68.2 (249, 11)
Rebound Margin: 2.3 (108, 6)
Assists Per Game: 13.6 (163, 11)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.2 (199, 9)
Madness 2018 NBA Draft Rankings:
#58 Keita Bates-Diop
Madness 2017 Men's Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#72 Kaleb Wesson