The Big Ten has been one of the best men's basketball conferences in the country over the last few seasons, and this season should be no exception, with Maryland projected to compete for a national championship, and with several other teams bringing in celebrated recruiting classes. Where does that leave Ohio State?
Per a BTN.com poll of basketball contributors yesterday, Ohio State is projected to finish 7th. Maryland is projected to finish first, followed by Indiana, Purdue, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Michigan. There's a fairly significant gap after Michigan, with Ohio State holding only a slim lead over Illinois and Iowa. A seventh place finish, depending on how Ohio State performs in their difficult non-conference schedule, would put them near NCAA tournament bubble territory. For what it's worth, the entire panel believed that the Big Ten would get at least seven teams in the NCAAs, with potentially more.
Ohio State didn't fare much better in the first edition of the USA TODAY Coaches Poll. The Buckeyes will start the season unranked, and only picked up two votes. Basketball powerhouses like Boise State, Davidson and Providence earned more, and the Buckeyes had the same number of votes as Stephen F Austin. Seven other Big Ten teams received more votes in the poll than Ohio State.
It's not hard to see why preseason buzz is lower for this Ohio State team, especially compared to others in recent memory. After all, Ohio State doesn't have a single senior, and has only one upperclassman (junior forward Marc Loving), and after losing D'Angelo Russell to the NBA Draft, the Buckeyes will be rolling out almost an entirely new team. Thad Matta even agreed today that this could be a rebuilding season.
The Buckeyes did bring in an excellent recruiting class last season (11th in the country, best in the Big Ten), paced by combo guard JaQuan Lyle, so if Ohio State's young guns grow up quickly, they have a chance to impress some skeptics, but looking at the teams in front of Ohio State on the poll, plus regular season games against Kentucky, Virginia, Memphis and UConn, this could be more of a developmental season in Columbus.
The full preseason basketball Coaches Poll can be seen below:
USA Today Coaches Poll
|1||North Carolina Tar Heels||26-12||749||12||NR||0||-|
|4||Duke Blue Devils||35-4||686||3||NR||0||-|
|7||Iowa State Cyclones||25-9||541||0||NR||0||-|
|12||Wichita State Shockers||30-5||461||0||NR||0||-|
|13||Michigan State Spartans||27-12||386||0||NR||0||-|
|14||California Golden Bears||18-15||350||0||NR||0||-|
|18||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||32-6||172||0||NR||0||-|
|23||West Virginia Mountaineers||25-10||125||0||NR||0||-|