It might be Super Bowl Sunday, but we are currently in the thick of the college basketball season and opinions have been forming amongst fans across the country. In this week’s edition of SB Nation Reacts, they asked fans from across the country a series of men’s basketball questions, and they let us piggyback with an Ohio State question of our own.
First up, SBN Reacts asked fans what the best college basketball conference in the country was, and I have to say that the wisdom of the masses is showing up on this one. While I don’t know that I would say that there is any team that I would put money on to win the NCAA Tournament this year — especially given Purdue’s up-and-down season — I still believe that the top half to two-thirds of the league is better than any other in the country.
Early in the season, a lot of Ohio State fans that they could see another Buckeye join the Evan Turner as the only Buckeyes to win the John R. Wooden Award as the national player of the year — Jerry Lucas (twice), Gary Bradds, and Jim Jackson all previously won the now-defunct UPI Player of the Year Award. Lucas and Bradds’ honors predate the inception of both the Wooden and Naismith College Player of the Year Awards. Turner also won the latter in 2010.
Anyway, it looked like OSU junior forward E.J. Liddell could have been on a path to the honor early in the season, following his bout with Covid and the handful of games it took for him to get back in shape after he returned, it seemed like his chance had passed him by.
While he still is showing up on watchlists and finalist lists, given the results of the SBN Reacts survey, very few fans consider him a legitimate contender for the honor. Instead, Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr. is the leader amongst the respondents. Purdue’s Jaden Ivey is one of two Big Ten players in the top-three along with Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn.
While I don’t think that Liddell needs to be in the top-five at this point, I do believe that if he has a good stretch run that he could work his way back into the conversation, and our friends at the DraftKings Sportsbook seem to agree. The Buckeye forward is currently tied with Indiana big man Trayce Jackson-Davis with the 11th best odds in the country. Cockburn and Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe are currently the betting favorites.
In the SBN Reacts survey, we then turned our attention a little closer to home and asked Buckeye fans how they were feeling about this year’s team. There is a certain segment of very vocal Buckeye fans who see the fact that Chris Holtmann has not yet led any of his Ohio State teams to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament as a reason that he is not qualified to continue leading the program.
That being said, it seems as though a significant portion of the OSU fan population has some faith in this year’s incarnation of the team. Two-thirds of the Buckeye fans who responded think that 2022 is the year that Holtmann’s squad wins two tournament games and makes the Sweet Sixteen.
Interesting — again according to DraftKings — the Buckeyes are tied for the 16th best odds to win the national title. Ohio State and Texas are both currently 100/1 to cut down the nets in New Orleans. B1G brethren Purdue (+220), Illinois (+550), Michigan State (+800), and Wisconsin (+900) are also in the top 15.