2011 College Basketball: Ohio State Predictions and Futures Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 11/8/2011
Most people would consider a season in which you start 24-0, spend plenty of time as the nation’s No. 1 team, and win your conference regular-season and tournament titles for the second season in a row as an unqualified success.
However, the Ohio State Buckeyes certainly didn’t see last season as a success after entering the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed before falling to Kentucky in the Sweet 16 to finish at 34-3, one shy of the school record for wins. The loss marked the third straight year the Buckeyes failed to advance to the regional final.
On the bright side, that defeat did have a silver lining: It essentially assured that superstar Jared Sullinger would return for his sophomore season and try and lead the Buckeyes to a National Championship.
Sullinger was the Big Ten and national Freshman of the Year, averaging 17.1 points and 10 rebounds. He was a beast in that Kentucky loss with 21 points and 16 rebounds. He is the only unanimous pick on the Associated Press’ preseason All-America team and is Bodog’s second-favorite to win national Player of the Year honors this season.
Sullinger also has lost 20 pounds of baby fat and reportedly refined his offensive game to where he should have more range.
2011-12 Ohio State Basketball Key Additions/Losses
The losses from last year’s team are significant even with Sullinger back.
Gone are three key seniors: Jon Diebler (12.6 points per game), a sharp-shooter who is the Big Ten’s all-time leader in three-pointers, lockdown defender and versatile swingman David Lighty (12.1 ppg) and big man Dallas Lauderdale (4.2 ppg).
Despite that, the Buckeyes return seven 2010-11 letterwinners who accounted for nearly 63 percent of the team’s points (1,783 of 2,854), rebounds (805 of 1,277), assists (370 of 587) and steals (169 of 263) entering this season.
Five freshmen in another terrific class join the team, led by McDonald’s All-Americans Shannon Scott and Amir Williams. OSU also welcomes 6-foot-8, 250-pound forward Evan Ravenel, a transfer from Boston College who sat out last season.
2011-12 Ohio State Basketball Outlook
We touched on Sullinger above, but the other key players back are William Buford (14.4 ppg.), Deshaun Thomas (7.5 ppg.) and Aaron Craft (6.9 ppg.).
Buford likely will be counted on to hit from long range like Diebler did. Buford, who shot 44.2 percent from behind the three-point arc in 2009-10, also figures to be the team’s leader considering he is the lone senior on the Ohio State roster this season. In fact, he is just one of two upperclassmen and the only player with more than a year of experience in an Ohio State uniform.
Craft led the team in assists (177) and steals (73) last year as the first guy off the bench and might be the best defensive player in the Big Ten, while Thomas will have a much bigger role this season after playing only 14 minutes per game last year.
2011-12 Ohio State Basketball Schedule
The Buckeyes open their season on Friday at home against Wright State, but then comes an immediate test against preseason No. 15 Florida, one of the favorites in the SEC.
OSU also faces No. 6 Duke in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Nov. 29 and is at No. 13 Kansas on Dec. 10. Otherwise Ohio State shouldn’t be challenged much in its nonconference schedule.
The 18-game Big Ten schedule begins Dec. 28 against Northwestern. The only conference teams that OSU doesn’t face twice are Penn State and Purdue at home and Iowa and Minnesota on the road (all Big Ten teams face seven foes twice and four once).
That March 4 regular-season finale at Michigan State could be for the regular-season Big Ten title. OSU opens the season with a 22-game home winning streak.
2011-12 Ohio State Predictions for College Basketball
Another conference title would be quite an accomplishment as the Buckeyes have not posted three consecutive Big Ten crowns since winning a conference-record five consecutive titles from 1960-64.
OSU was the overwhelming preseason Big Ten pick by the media and is the 10/13 favorite on Bodog to win the conference. The Buckeyes are 15/2 to win the school’s second national title (the other coming in 1960), which is behind only North Carolina and Kentucky – not coincidentally, those are the only two teams ahead of OSU in the preseason national polls.
I don’t see any way this club doesn’t win the Big Ten again unless Sullinger gets hurt, especially with Wisconsin and Michigan State losing a lot. But it is awfully young in terms of winning a national title. The program’s first Final Four trip since the 2007 national runner-up team is a good possibility.
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