2014 Ohio State Buckeyes Predictions and NCAA Basketball Futures Odds
by Aaron Smith - 10/29/2014
The Ohio State Buckeyes went to the Final Four in the 2011-12 season. They went to the Elite Eight in the 2012-13 season. That's why last year's exit in their first game of the NCAA Tournament was a disappointment to Buckeyes fans. Ohio State drew Dayton in that opening game (second round) of the NCAA Tournament last year, and Dayton edged them 60-59. The Flyers were really hungry in that game, and the Buckeyes just didn't have enough scoring firepower to get the job done.
That ended up being the bottom line to the season for Ohio State. They just didn't have enough guys who could put the ball in the basket. The Buckeyes did finish with 25 wins last year, but this was a team that was ranked third in the nation at one point, and they weren't even among the final 32 teams playing in the Big Dance.
Thad Matta has proven himself as a really good recruiter, and the Buckeyes brought in another impressive recruiting class this year. Matta deserves credit for upping the expectations of this program during his time in charge. Ohio State is always going to be a football school first, but their basketball team will be a force to be reckoned with as long as Matta is on the sidelines.
2014 Ohio State Key Losses and Additions
Ohio State loses three key players from last year. Aaron Craft has to be at the top of the list. Craft was the ultimate leader and hard worker for the Buckeyes. He was named the NABC Defensive Player of the Year last year. Craft wasn't a particularly good scorer, but his intensity and ability to defend on the ball was second to none. Craft was a virtual coach on the court, and those are tough to lose. LaQuinton Ross surprised some by opting to go pro in the offseason. Ross ended up signing to play in Italy after he didn't get drafted by an NBA team. Ross led the team in scoring at 15.2 points per game last year, and he was really the Buckeyes only player who could create his own shot consistently. Lenzelle Smith Jr. struggled a bit in his senior season, but he was a three-year starter and a very good defender.
As mentioned earlier, the Buckeyes do receive a lot in the way of help this year. Anthony Lee transferred from Temple and will be able to play immediately. Lee is a 6-foot-9 power forward who has a bunch of different ways to score around the basket. His length is a major plus, and he'll likely be the team's leading rebounder this year. D'Angelo Russell was seen by many as the nation's best shooting guard in high school last year, and he's the type of combo guard the Buckeyes really need. Keita Bates-Diop is a 6-foot-7 forward with a 7-foot-3 wingspan. With that kind of length, it's easy to see why he was a five-star recruit. Bates-Diop needs to bulk up some, but he'll contribute early.
2014 Ohio State Backcourt
It would be easy to assume the Buckeyes are in a lot of trouble at the point guard spot after losing someone as good as Craft, but Shannon Scott is a very solid point guard. Scott is actually a similar player to Craft. He doesn't have a terrific shot, but he has a lot of quickness and can get to the basket. He'll be one of the best on the ball defenders in the nation this year. Sam Thompson will start alongside Scott to start out the season. Thompson is famous for his amazing dunks, but the Buckeyes need him to be a more consistent shooter. Kam Williams and Russell are both potential starters at the shooting guard spot as the season moves along. They are two guys who can score from just about anywhere, and my guess is that will push one of them into the starting lineup pretty quickly. There's lots of depth at the shooting guard spot, but Scott is going to have to play a lot of minutes at the point.
2014 Ohio State Frontcourt
Amir Williams is the starting center. Williams is a tough one to figure out. He's certainly a defensive presence because of his length, but the lack of consistency from Williams has been maddening for fans and the coaching staff. Matta said in the offseason, "We need him to play with a great consistency night in and night out." They haven't gotten that yet. If Williams becomes a scoring option in the post, it makes the team much better, but I'm not convinced that will happen. Lee should be the go-to guy in the paint, and his ability to finish around the rim should make him very valuable to this team. At the wing, Marc Loving is likely to be the starter at the small forward spot, but Thompson might slide to this position at some point as well. Loving played well early in the year last season before hitting a freshman wall in January. He'll be much better this year. Bates-Diop will see some time at the wing as well.
2014 Ohio State Buckeyes Futures Odds
Ohio State is receiving some attention from the oddsmakers this season. The Buckeyes are listed at 50/1 to win the NCAA Championship, according to odds from Bovada. Ohio State is priced at +5,500 to win it all at Sportsbook.ag.
2014 Ohio State Buckeyes Predictions and NCAA Basketball Picks
The Buckeyes are a young team this year, so they'll probably start out a little slow. I'd be cautious backing them early in the season. Look for the youngsters to start getting acclimated to their roles as the season moves along, and the Buckeyes are going to be a dangerous team late in the season. Lee is going to be big for the Buckeyes, and Russell is a future superstar. I'll call for Ohio State to reach the Sweet 16.
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