All this week, LGHL writers will be bring you articles focusing on their biggest and boldest predictions. Check out all of our “Bold Predictions” articles throughout the week HERE. Whether you disagree, let us know what you think in the comments below and on Twitter @Landgrant33.
Everybody knows that one of the best parts of being a sports fan is debating and dissecting the most (and least) important questions in the sporting world with your friends. So, we’re bringing that to the pages of LGHL with our favorite head-to-head column: You’re Nuts.
In You’re Nuts, two LGHL staff members will take differing sides of one question and argue their opinions passionately. Then, in the end, it’s up to you to determine who’s right and who’s nuts.
Today’s Question: Which non-football Ohio State team will win a national title in 2021-22?
Jami’s Take: Women’s Volleyball
My first instinct was to take the easy route and say “Women’s synchronized swimming,” but those of you who have paid close attention to our coordinated friends in the pool know that this isn’t a particularly bold statement given that Ohio State is a powerhouse program with 32 national titles in women’s synchro.
No, the people asked for a bold prediction, and I aim to please. You want bold? You’ve got it. Excluding football, the Ohio State sports team most likely to win a national title in the upcoming season is the women’s volleyball team.
This is not an argument you’re likely to hear from other media publications. Maybe they know more about NCAA women’s volleyball than I do, but I also see something in this team. Given their strong performance this past season and the amount of new and returning talent they have for the coming year, this is a team that could surprise us. They have a few tricks up their sleeve.
Buckeye team leaders like opposite hitters Vanja Bukilic and Emily Londot will be back with another season under their belt. Bukilic spent part of her summer playing with the Serbian national team, while Londot competed with the U.S. U20 National Team. Coming off this summer, both players should be primed and ready to continue stepping up as offensive powerhouses.
And with a new season comes new talent. The Buckeyes will see freshman talent like Sarah White, an Under Armour All-American and current U.S. Women’s U20 Training Team alternate, joining their ranks. Fellow Under Armour All-Americans Sydney White and Arica Davis will also join the team this year.
Last season, OSU opened the year with a 12-match win streak and advanced to the NCAA Tournament regional semifinals for the first time since 2016. The depth of their roster this year and the additional experience many of these players gained in the offseason could be enough to work some magic and help this team go from great to champions.
In conference play, this team will need to get through the likes of Penn State and Purdue. Last season, they upset Penn State twice, the first time OSU had done so since 2001. Penn State will likely come out with a vengeance this year now that there’s something to prove, but trust when I say head coach Jen Flynn Oldenburg will make sure the Buckeyes go into the matches with their heads in the game. But unlike last year, they will need to find a way to get past Purdue.
I believe if they can do that, they can position themselves well for the tournament. Can they hang with the likes of Kentucky or Texas? Anyone who has ever watched tournament-style play in any sport knows that there is some element of unpredictability. If a team peaks at the right time, anything is possible. And I believe this team is the perfect cocktail of hard work and talent and could absolutely peak at the right time and walk away with a national title. They’re a sleeper team, the kind that maybe flies under your radar until it’s too late.
Are there other OSU teams that have the potential to win a title? Sure! Matt’s going to tell you about one of them! But none make as compelling a case as women’s volleyball, which surprised everyone last year and should only come out stronger this season.
Look to the leaders to set the bar, look to the rookies to rise to the occasion, and look to this team to surprise everyone and bring OSU its first national championship in women’s volleyball.
Matt’s Take: Men’s Tennis
Jami is correct, the most obvious answer as to what non-football Ohio State team will win a national title this academic year is the synchronized swimming squad. But, that’s not really a bold prediction, in fact it’s immeasurably more bold to say they won’t win. So, instead, I am going to go with the slightly more bold men’s tennis team. I so wanted to pull the trigger and say men’s basketball, but even I — in all of my infinite bull shittery on this website — am not bold enough to make that prediction.
So, I will be taking the 15-time Big Ten champions and 12-time Big Ten Tournament Champions for this week. Now, if you didn’t realize, this isn’t exactly out of left field; OSU’s men’s tennis team has been runners up at the NCAA Tournament twice the past dozen years, first to USC in 2009 and then more recently to Wake Forest in 2018.
In 2021, the men’s tennis Bucks lost in the equivalent of the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament. They fell to No. 7 overall seed TCU 4-1. Ohio State had already beaten Virginia Commonwealth (4-1) and got a tiny bit of revenge over No. 10 seed Wake Forest (4-1) in the tournament’s first two rounds.
What is so exciting about the men’s tennis team is who they have returning. Admittedly, they are saying goodbye to two of their biggest stars, John McNally and Kyle Seelig (not to be confused with “Mean Girls” on Broadway star Kyle Selig, since I’m sure all of you were taken aback by the similarity in names). Both McNally and Seeling were first-team all conference selections.
McNally was 23-6 in singles play and 17-6 in doubles this spring playing primarily in the first singles position. Following his senior season, McNally decided not to take the additional year afforded to players from the NCAA and has moved on to his professional career. McNally was the only Buckeye to win in their tournament matchup with TCU.
Seeling, a Big Ten Medal of Honor finalist, also moved on following his graduate season. He was 19-9 in singles and 6-6 in singles. Seeling ended the season in the fifth singles spot.
But, the remainder of the roster should be returning, led by young guns Cannon Kingsley and JJ Tracy. As a sophomore earlier this year, Kingsley was an impressive 27-2, including a 16-0 mark in the B1G earning the 2020-21 conference Athlete of the Year award. Kingsley was also 17-6 in doubles play, including a 9-0 mark when paired with Tracy. Kingsley finished the campaign in the second singles position, and will assuredly move up to the top spot this coming year.
In his rookie season, Tracy was 26-3 overall, with an equally impressive 16-0 mark in conference. Unsurprisingly, he won the B1G’s Freshman of the Year Award. Tracy was 14-4 in doubles action as well. He ended the year in the sixth singles spot, but will surely move up the ranks as a sophomore.
Also back for the Buckeyes will be last season’s No. 3 singles player and all-B1G second teamer James Trotter (15-1 in 2020-21), No. 4 player Justin Boulais (7-3 singles, 8-4 doubles), and No. 2 doubles player Robert Cash (16-4 singles, 20-6 doubles).
Though head coach Ty Tucker’s team is losing substantial senior leadership coming into the 2021-22 season, they have a lot of up-and-coming talent who is ready to take the reins of this storied program. So, I am going to be bold and say that the Ohio State men’s tennis team will better their 2009 and 2018 finishes and become the first B1G squad to win the national title since Illinois in 2003.
Who has the right answer to today’s question?
This poll is closed
Jami: Women’s volleyball
Matt: Men’s Tennis