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Marc Loving needs to refocus and help lead the Buckeyes

Marc Loving is looking to step up this season and become a consistent contributor for Ohio State.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Marc Loving is one of the lone experienced players on this Ohio State team, and the only junior. Although he might not be the more fiery or vocal on the court,  Loving will need to find a way to guide the younger members of the team throughout the season.

Through his first two years for the Buckeyes, Loving has established himself as a reliable three point shooter and a player who can, at times, create his own shot off the dribble. He's shown flashes of defensive disruption, and can get to the glass as well. However, during his sophomore season, Loving's offense and overall production fell off after a midseason suspension, and now his place in the lineup is a little less clear. Loving will need to produce offensively with more regularity and remain on the court if the Buckeyes are going to compete in the Big Ten.

A look back

Loving came into his sophomore season hot off the heels of a promising freshman campaign. He started the season red hot from behind the arc and, at one time, led the Big Ten in 3 point percentage. He was able to spread the floor for players to operate in the paint and found his way to the free throw line with some regularity.

In the face of all of this promising success, Loving was hit with a mid season suspension that forced him to miss three games in February. After the suspension, he was never quite the same. Loving saw his minutes, field goal percentage, and 3 point percentage all plummet as he struggled to make an impact on the floor.

Loving would like to quietly forget the last dozen or so games last year. Quick contributions on both ends of the court this year will greatly aid him in that endeavor.

Outlook for 2015-2016

Barring another ill timed suspension, Marc Loving should figure prominently in Ohio State's rotation, and it seems like a good bet that he'll start. Loving's length, his shooting ability and his experience make him an important commodity, and he's a good bet to be one of the leading scorers on this team.

Loving should regain his form from early last season and continue to be a dead eye three point shooter. Much like last year, that is going to open up driving lanes for players like Jaquan Lyle and Jae'Sean Tate, and even open the paint up a little bit for Ohio State's new frontcourt. Some nights he may play almost the entire game, others, he may get moved around, depending on matchups with Tate or Keita Bates-Diop, but Loving figures to be one of the most important guys on this team.

Best case scenario

Best case for Loving is that he stays out of trouble and plays this entire year in the same fashion as he played the first 20 or so games last season. Loving continues to find his stroke from beyond the arc, develops a bit as an on ball defender, and becomes an on the court leader for this inexperienced Buckeye team. In this scenario, Loving is probably one of the top two scorers for Ohio State, and their best three-point shooter.

Loving also helps to mentor Keita Bates-Diop to allow him to further develop into the excellent wing contributor he projects to be as his Buckeye career develops.

Worst case scenario

Loving's late season woes carry over into this year and he starts off the season in a miserable shooting slump. Tragically, this translates into drooped shoulders and a lack of confidence for Loving all season. Bates-Diop takes over Loving's starting spot and heads into next season as the presumed starter over Loving. Loving struggles to average double figures, and the floor spacing duties fall to a slew of freshman and other experienced players, which means some seriously stagnant offenses and blown games.