As the Fourth of July festivities begin and people enjoy their three-day weekend and holiday, we at Land-Grant Holy Land will be remiss if we did not give you something to think about. Since we are the Bucketheads, we will of course stay on brand and give you something basketball related.
There was actually some big news this week for Ohio State Hoops. This doesn’t normally happen in June, but the Buckeyes announced their full, non-conference schedule.
There are some notable games (North Carolina, Duke) and some non-notable games (you see them, too). This week, we will be debating who the toughest opponent on their non-conference is.
Before we do that, we can recap last week. In honor of the NBA Draft, the boys discussed which former Buckeye went un-drafted that they thought should have been drafted. Connor picked Duane Washington Jr., while Justin picked William Buford.
After the voting, Justin used a slim margin to beat Connor. Here are the updated standings. Justin is closing in.... kind of.
After 56 weeks:
(There have been two ties)
Now onto this week. Let’s get into it.
Today’s question: Who is Ohio State hoops toughest non-conference opponent?
Alright, let’s not make this harder than it needs to be. Ohio State has one true road game during their non-conference slate, and it’s on the road in Cameron Indoor Stadium. You can count on one hand how many venues are more loud and hostile to visitors, and that’s before I remind you that this Ohio State team is 2⁄3 made up of freshmen and transfers.
The students are pretty much right on top of you at Duke, and the arena only holds 9,100 people. It’s old and hot and stuffy and loud. Aside from maybe Mackey, Ohio State won’t play in a more hostile, vulgar, intense road environment this season.
Of course, there will be pressure on first-year head coach Jon Scheyer, too. This will be one of the first games he coaches as Coach K’s successor, and I don’t think the folks in Durham will be all too happy if their Blue Devils lose to a football school back-to-back seasons in the B1G/ACC Challenge. Also, think about the bragging rights Ohio State basketball would have over Duke if they beat them two seasons in a row? Duke fans wouldn’t be able to say anything to Ohio State fans until Duke finally beat them, years down the road.
So yeah, Scheyer will be under some pretty heavy pressure to win this one.
Finally, Duke has one of the best freshman classes of the past decade. They have three of the top four players in the 2022 class, plus two more guys in the top-26. To compare, Ohio State’s highest rated recruit in their much heralded recruiting class is No. 42. So.... Duke has five freshmen who were higher ranked recruits than Ohio State’s highest ranked freshman:
No. 1 Dereck Lively Jr (7-foot-1, 220-pound center)
No. 2 Dariq Whitehead (6-foot-6, 190-pound small forward)
No. 4 Kyle Filipowksi (6-foot-11, 230-pound center)
No. 21 Mark Mitchell (6-foot-8, 205-pound power forward)
No. 26 Tyrese Proctor (6-foot-4, 170-pound point guard)
On top of those five freshmen, Duke returns junior point guard Jeremy Roach, who averaged 8.6 points and 3.2 assists per game last season. They also picked up two Big Ten transfers in former Northwestern center Ryan Young and former Illinois forward Jacob Grandison.
If you think Ohio State’s roster situation is unknown or unsettled, Duke dealt with even more turnover after having four players drafted in the first round of last week’s NBA Draft. But, unlike the Buckeyes, Duke monopolized the top of the 2022 recruiting class like only Duke can.
Justin: North Carolina
Fun fact heading into this season: North Carolina is going to be good. They are returning four of their five starters from their Final Four and National Championship run, and they added one of the best transfers in the portal to replace their one starter that left. Northwestern’s Pete Nance is joining the Tar Heels to replace Brady Manek.
I am not sure that the Buckeyes matchup well with the Tar Heels at really any aspect of the game. Zed Key and Felix Okpara will be able to matchup with a lot of the big men that they face, but Armando Bacot will likely not be one of them. Bacot is a rebounding machine and will have a significant advantage over Key and Okpara. Plus he is bigger, and will likely be able to finish over the top.
Then you have simply the experience. The Tar Heels will be a cohesive unit bringing back four of their five starters and starting all seniors. R.J. Davis, Caleb Love, Armando Bacot and Leaky Black are all returning starters, and those four have all logged heavy minutes together. It wont be hard to toss Nance into the mix and make it work. Ohio State, however, is basically a brand new team, and with this game happening early into the season, the Buckeyes still may be finding their footing.
And then you have the guard play. While I am very excited about Ohio State incoming freshman Bruce Thornton, Davis and Love are guys that should be able to have their way against the young Buckeye guard. That is no offense to Thornton, who should be a star in this league, but those two are just that good.
Yeah, this one will be tough. The one benefit is it will be at a neutral site and not in Chapel Hill. That would be icing on the cake. Plus, this team just lost a national title. They are going to be hungry early on.
You’re Nuts: Who is Ohio State hoops toughest non-conference opponent?
This poll is closed
At Duke (Connor)
CBS Sports Classic vs North Carolina (Justin)