Big Ten National Title Contender: Ohio State (Season Preview/Photo Gallery)

ohio state cheerleaders

The Ewing Theory will be put to the test this season in Columbus.  The Ohio State Buckeyes lose National Player of the Year, "His Royal Smoothness" and Chicago's very own Evan Turner but they could actually be a better team without him as Thad Matta returns his other four starters and ushers in a highly touted class of freshmen.

The Sports Bank's "99 in 99" ranks the 72 power conference college basketball programs and top 27 mid-majors.  Click here if you missed teams #5-#99.

Ohio State Buckeyes (T-4th, 14-4 in Big Ten, 29-8 overall)


Projected Depth Chart

C: Dallas Lauderdale (Sr)/Nikola Kecman (Jr)
PF: Jared Sullinger (Fr)/DeShaun Thomas (Fr)
SF: David Lighty (Sr)/J.D. Weatherspoon (Fr)
SG: Willian Buford (Jr)/Jordan Sibert (Fr)/Lenzelle Smith (Fr)
G: Jon Diebler (Sr)/Aaron Craft (Fr)

Gone: PG-Evan Turner, PG-P.J. Hill, G-Jeremie Simmons, C-Kyle Madsen, SG-Walter Offutt (transfer-Ohio), C-Zisis Sarakopoulus (overseas)

2010-2011 Outlook:

Despite losing do-it-all National Player of the Year, Evan Turner,
Ohio State remains loaded with talent and should be a top ten caliber
team all season long since they bring back four starters and have a
loaded group of freshmen.

That recruiting class is led by 6-9, 280 pound big man Jared
Sullinger who is an absolute beast inside but light on his feet at the
same time.  He embraces being able to throw his body around down low and
should form an incredibly intimidating front line with everybody's
favorite balding college basketball player whose name could also easily double as a
porn star; Dallas Lauderdale.  That duo will be tough for opponents to
match-up with due to their strength and bruising nature.

Evan Turner 76ers

The
experienced trio of William Buford, Jon Diebler, and David Lighty will
man the backcourt and hope to share the load in replacing everything
Turner brought to the wing.  The biggest question is which of the three
will take over the ball-handling responsibilities.  Turner was versatile
enough to admirably take on the point guard role last season.

However, any of these three is asked to step in will not have as smooth of a
transition.

Buford is the most talented of the three and rebounded nicely after a
slow start to last season.  He figures to be the most capable of taking
over the point forward type role.  Lighty is invaluable due to his
versatility as he can play and guard four positions on the floor and
will be the team's vocal leader.  Diebler is one of the best shooters in
the Big Ten and needs to be accounted for at all times.

Thad Matta's bench is young but very talented.  Aaron Craft is a
distributing point guard who should see a good amount of minutes due to
OSU's lack of a true floor general in the starting five.  Jordan Sibert
and J.D. Witherspoon will compete for minutes on the wing along with
Lenzelle Smith who is recovering from wrist surgery and could miss the
first month of the season.

DeShaun Thomas is a gifted 6-6 player who has an inside/outside game
that gives Matta options.  Expect to see him play a lot of four with
either Sullinger or Lauderdale at the five since the Buckeyes lack a lot
of depth up-front besides seldom used Nikola Kecman.

How far this team goes this season could very well depend on the
transition for whoever takes over at running the show.  If the that
situation figures itself out in the non-conference schedule and the
freshmen not named Sullinger can find their roles off the bench, I think
Ohio State will be better this year without Turner (which I know is
saying a lot.)

Player to Watch: Jared Sullinger, F/C
I am fully expecting Sullinger to steamroll over his opponents this
season.  The two-time Ohio Mr. Basketball is capable of stepping onto
the floor and being an immediate double-double guy.  In fact, I would
rank him third behind Jon Leuer and Demetri McCamey as my Big Ten Player
of the Year candidates.  That is how much I am expecting out of
Sullinger in what could be his only year in C-Bus.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/16 at Florida
11/23 vs. Morehead State
11/30 at Florida State (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)
12/18 vs. South Carolina

David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and The Washington Times Communities.  You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.

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