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Ohio State Preview

by Chris Mackinder | November 28th, 2007

2006-2007 Record: 35-4 (15-1 Big 10, 1st)
Postseason Games:

3/9/2007 Michigan Big Ten Tournament W 72-62
3/10/2007 Purdue Big Ten Tournament W 63-52
3/11/2007 Wisconsin Big Ten Tournament W 66-49
3/15/2007 Cent. Conn St. NCAA W 78-57
3/17/2007 Xavier. NCAA W 78-71 (OT)
3/22/2007 Tennesseee NCAA W 85-84
3/24/2007 Memphis NCAA W 92-76
3/31/2007 Georgetown NCAA W 67-60
4/2/2007 Florida NCAA L 84-75

Returning Statistical Leaders:
8.5 ppg – Jamar Butler
4.5 rpg – Othello Hunter
3.6 apg – Jamar Butler

Starting Lineup: Key Stat:
C Kosta Koufos 7’0 Fr. 45.4% 3-point shooter through 5 games
PF Othello Hunter 6’8 Sr. 20 blocks in 18 Big Ten games last year
SF David Lighty 6’5 So. Only 68.5% FT shooter and 20% 3-pt shooter
SG Jon Diebler 6’6 Fr. 41.2 ppg average as prep senior
PG Jamar Butler 6’1 Sr. Must forget title game stats (1-for-7 shooting)

Key Player Losses: Greg Oden (15.7 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 3.3 bpg), Mike Conley (11.3 ppg, 6.1 apg), Ron Lewis (12.7 ppg), Daequan Cook (9.8 ppg).

Impact Newcomer: Kosta Koufos. The 7-foot offensive assassin will test defenses both in the post and behind the arc. Think Dirk Nowitzki but a little more raw. Koufos lacks Oden’s excellent defense but offensively he’s just as talented.

Tough Question: What will make a successful season? If Ohio State makes the NCAA Tournament, will that be enough to satisfy Buckeye Nation? One would think that losing four great players would excuse a rebuilding season, but coach Thad Matta sees this as a reloading season. That means just making the tournament likely won’t be acceptable. The Buckeyes expect to make headlines. Finishing second in the Pre-season NIT is just a start.

Too Much PT: Eric Wallace. He’s only a freshman but giving Wallace anywhere near 10 minutes a game is just too much. He’s extremely raw and the Buckeyes don’t need his turnovers.

Get Him on the Floor: Matt Terwilliger. While Terwilliger fits the “I’m a senior so I deserve some playing time” mold, he actually contributes when he’s on the floor. He’s not a huge weapon but has the ability to shoot the 3-pointer. That in itself is a vital weapon to have off the bench from a 6-9 forward/center.

Point Guard Impact: Butler will bring both experience and talent to the point guard position. Amidst all of Ohio State’s departures, Butler brings stability and should keep the Buckeyes in many games this season. He’ll also single-handedly win a couple.

Final Word: When a team loses its head, arms, legs and eyes, how does it recover? That is what Ohio State will answer this season. Matta’s shown he can win with freshmen–albeit some amazing ones last season–and his incoming class isn’t too shabby. The Buckeyes won’t be No. 1 in any polls this season, but a second-place finish in the Pre-season NIT should tell you that OSU won’t be a pushover this year either. If both Michigan State and Indiana falter, Ohio State could be the team that sneaks in and wins the Big Ten title. Seriously. The season might start slow but by the end, the Buckeyes should be a highly-seeded team in the NCAA Tournament (No. 4 to No. 6) and be a serious threat to reach the Sweet 16.

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