#12 Ohio State Men's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview

Ohio State Buckeyes

2013-2014 Overall Rank: #12
Conference Rank: #2 Big Ten

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Ohio State is the only program to reach the Sweet Sixteen the last four years. They could very well make it five seasons in a row. Last season, of course, the Buckeyes made it to the Elite Eight where they lost 70-66 to Wichita State. A year earlier, OSU made it to the Final Four. Coach Thad Matta has done a wonderful job keeping this program strong and the only thing left for him to do is to bring a national championship to Columbus. It will be point guard Aaron Craft who leads the attempt. Craft has always been a tough defender and a great passer, but he is turning into a prolific scorer as well. Down the stretch last season Craft boosted his season total to 10.0 points per game and that should go up. Even if it does not, Craft will make the other scorers get involved and make a huge impact with his defense.

2012-13 Record: 29-8, 13-5
2012-13 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Thad Matta
Coach Record: 250-73 at Ohio State, 352-104 overall

Who’s Out:
However, there is rightfully concern over the absence of Deshaun Thomas. The 6-7 forward led the team with 19.8 points and 5.9 rebounds. With no other player on the roster averaging over ten points per game during the 2012-2013 campaign, new scorers are going to have to step up and help the Buckeyes replace their former superstar. The good news is Thomas is the only starter gone. Evan Ravenel did start a handful of games during his senior season and played an important role off of the bench, but the Buckeyes do have the talent replace the 6-8, 250 pound center.

Who’s In:
Marc Loving could be the new big man that fills the role of Ravenel. Loving is not the latest in the long line of Ohio State one and done forwards and he will need some time to develop, but Loving is capable of earning a few quality minutes as a freshman. The only other incoming freshman is Kam Williams. The 6-2 shooting guard was a prolific prep scorer and will look to continue that at Ohio State.

Who to Watch:
The Buckeyes frontcourt will still be a strength even without Thomas and Ravenel. Sam Thompson can finish above the rim with the best of them and last season he really developed into a solid all-around scorer. Thompson knocked down 40.4 percent of his limited attempts from beyond the arc. He should improve on his 7.8 points per game with more shots becoming available. The hopes have been very high for LaQuinton Ross over the last two years and now the 6-8 forward should be ready to at least step into a starting role. Despite coming off of the bench every game as a sophomore, Ross did rank fourth on the team with 8.3 points per game. He has enough talent to take over this team on occasion and he started to show that during the NCAA Tournament. Amir Williams will be the big man in the paint. Williams will not do much scoring, but he is a quality shot blocker and that is all the Buckeyes need him to do.

Final Projection:
Lenzelle Smith Jr. is the team’s most prolific returning outside shooter and the experienced guard that holds this team together. Smith has started the last 76 games and his experience was extremely important in 2012-2013. With a more seasoned squad this year, Smith’s experience will not be as vital, but fortunately he can do plenty of other things. Smith shot 37.4 percent from three-point land, ranked second on the team with 4.8 rebounds and is a shutdown defender. Shannon Scott will be the main backup on the perimeter. He averaged 3.8 assists and just 1.2 turnovers. Whenever Craft needs a break or Coach Matta wants to have a second ball handler on the floor, Scott will fill in just fine. With the talent Ohio State has, they should be competing for a Big Ten title. However, overall depth could be a concern if the two freshmen are not ready to play a few minutes and that could catch up with the Buckeyes eventually.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Aaron Craft, Senior, Guard, 10.0 points per game
Lenzelle Smith, Senior, Guard, 9.2 points per game
Sam Thompson, Junior, Forward, 7.8 points per game
LaQuinton Ross, Junior, Forward, 8.3 points per game
Amir Williams, Junior, Center, 3.5 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 70.2 (103rd in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 59.4 (30, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.1 (81, 4)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.5 (40, 5)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.1 (158, 6)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.6 (91, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.8 (126, 5)
Rebound Margin: 3.0 (87, 7)
Assists Per Game: 13.3 (131, 7)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.49 (7, 3)

Madness 2014 NBA Draft Rankings:
#44 LaQuinton Ross
#71 Aaron Craft

Madness 2013 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#60 Marc Loving
#80 Kameron Williams


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