Thursday, March 29, 2007

Final Four predictions

#1 Ohio State vs. #2 Georgetown
Although Ohio State is the 1 seed in this game, Georgetown is favored by a point. It's easy to see why with Georgetown having so much more experience than the young Buckeyes. Both teams could be considered teams of destiny, with Ohio State needing miracle escapes against Xavier and Tennesee, and Georgetown needing miracle escapes against Vanderbilt and North Carolina. This clash of teams of destiny should be a great one. Georgetown has the edge in the frontcourt, with 7-2 C Roy Hibbert, 6-9 F Jeff Green, 6-8 F DeJaun Summers, and 6-8 F Patrick Ewing Jr. leading the way. Green is the Big East player of the year this year, and it could be argued that at this point in time Hibbert is as good a big man as Greg Oden. Ohio State will counter with Oden and a front line mixture of 6-10 F Othello Hunter, 6-11 F Matt Teriwilliger, and 6-8 F David Lighty. I think that Lighty will do the best defensive job on Green in this game, and Lighty has been so well on offense lately that he is no longer a liability. While the Hoyas may have the front court advantage, Ohio State's backcourt is well above Georgetown's. While Jessie Sapp and Jonathon Wallace are nice guards, Mike Conley Jr., Jamar Butler, Daequan Cook, and Ron Lewis are much more prolific scorers. I see this game going down to the wire, with both Oden and Hibbert being in a little bit of foul trouble. With that said, I think Ohio State's guards will lead them to a close victory, with Lewis and Conley hitting big shots down the stretch.
Ohio State 70, Georgetown 66

#1 Florida vs. #2 UCLA
This championship game rematch promises to be much close than the game last year. Florida is hell-bent on pulling off back-to-back national titles, but UCLA wants revenge from last year. Although they played a slow-down, defensive style for most of the year, UCLA showed that they can play with an athletic, fast-paced team when they best Kansas in the regional final. UCLA is led by guards Darren Collison, Arron Afflalo, and Josh Shipp. Florida has the definite frontcourt advantage with Al Horford, Joakim Noah, and Chris Richard. UCLA counters that frontcourt with Lorenzo Mata, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and Alfred Aboya. While UCLA's guards will keep them in the game until the end, I think that Florida's will and determination, along with their frontcourt advantage, will lead them to the victory.
Florida 78, UCLA 70

Monday, March 26, 2007

Ohio State Basketball: Final Four Bound

When Ohio State signed this incredible freshman class, no one really knew what to expect. Obviously, the Buckeyes would be talented, but would they have enough experience to really go far in the tournament? How would the new freshmen mesh with the upperclassman? How much of an impact would Greg Oden have after his wrist injury? As Bob Hunter discusses in his column in the Dispatch today, with the win over Memphis on Saturday, this Ohio State team has fully lived up to the hype, and it will be remembered for a long time.

Throughout the season, the Buckeyes have been building up to this point, when everyone on the team has a role and everyone plays that role to perfection. Oden is a dominant presence inside, but he is probably not even the team's MVP. His high school teammate Mike Conley has been amazing all year, and the Buckeyes would be lost without him. In addition to those two, Ron Lewis has really found his game lately and he always seems to step up big in crunch time. Jamar Butler is a good ballhandler and a three point gunner from the outside. Ivan Harris can come off the bench at any moment and nail some long shots. David Lighty is a defensive stopper with athleticism who can step up on offense. Daequan Cook can shoot the ball from inside or outside, even though he's been cold lately. Hell, even Matt Teriwilliger has came up with some big free throws and offensive rebounds in the Tennesee game.

No matter what happens in the Final Four this weekend, this Ohio State team will be remembered for a long time. Players who contributed to the tournament will be beloved by Ohio State fans for the rest of their lives. Ron Lewis will still be getting thanked by random people on the street for hitting his three pointer to send the Xavier game to overtime when he is 50 years old. While I think this is only the beginning for Ohio State as a basketball powerhouse, this team will always be thought of fondly by anyone who followed them this season. And if the Buckeyes can bring home the national title, especially if they get revenge on Florida in the process, they may even be able to steal away some of the spotlight from the football team.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Spring Break

Sam's sports thoughts will be on a short hiatus because of a spring break vacation. It will return the weekend of March 24 with some NCAA tournament thoughts and an MLB preview.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Bracket Breakdown

East Regional
Best first round game: #8 Marquette vs. #9 Michigan State
Most likely first round upset: #12 Arkansas over #5 USC
Best chance for a big upset: #14 Oral Roberts vs. #3 Washington State
Best potential second round game: #1 North Carolina vs. #8 Marquette
Best potential Sweet 16 game: #1 North Carolina vs. #4 Texas
Best potential Elite 8 game: #1 North Carolina vs. #2 Georgetown
Realistic Final Four contenders: #1 North Carolina, #2 Georgetown, #4 Texas
My picks: Sweet 16: #4 Texas over #1 North Carolina, #2 Georgetown over #6 Vanderbilt. Elite 8: #4 Texas over #1 North Carolina

South Regional
Best first round game: #6 Louisville vs. #11 Stanford
Most likely first round upset: #10 Creighton over #7 Nevada
Best chance for a big upset: #13 Albany vs. #4 Virginia
Best potential second round game: #3 Texas A&M vs. #6 Louisville
Best potential Sweet 16 game: #2 Memphis vs. #3 Texas A&M
Best potential Elite 8 game: #1 Ohio State vs. #3 Texas A&M
My picks: Sweet 16: #1 Ohio State over #5 Tennesee, #3 Texas A&M over #2 Memphis. Elite 8: #1 Ohio State over #3 Texas A&M

Midwest Regional
Best first round game: #6 Notre Dame vs. #11 Winthrop
Most likely first round upset: #12 Old Dominion over #5 Butler
Best chance for a big upset: #13 Davidson over #4 Maryland
Best potential second round game: #3 Oregon vs. #6 Notre Dame
Best potential Sweet 16 game: #1 Florida vs. #4 Maryland
Best potential Elite 8 game: #1 Florida vs. #2 Wisconsin
My picks: Sweet 16: #1 Florida over #12 Old Dominion, #6 Notre Dame over #7 UNLV. Elite 8: #1 Florida over #6 Notre Dame.

West Regional
Best first round game: #6 Duke vs. #11 VCU
Most likely first round upset: #11 VCU over #6 Duke
Best chance for a big upset: #14 Wright State vs. #3 Pittsburgh
Best potential second round game: #1 Kansas vs. #8 Kentucky
Best potential Sweet 16 game: #2 UCLA vs. #3 Pittsburgh
Best potential Elite 8 game: #1 Kansas vs. #2 UCLA
My picks: #1 Kansas over #13 Holy Cross, #2 UCLA over #11 VCU. Elite 8: #1 Kansas over #2 UCLA.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Selection Sunday Review

Some initial thoughts following the release of the NCAA tournament bracket:

#1 seeds
No surprise in who the four #1 seeds were as they were the 4 contenders that won their conference tournaments. UCLA losing in the first round of the Pac-10 tourney really hurt them. One thing that was surprising to me was Ohio State getting the 3rd overall seed in the tournament. I thought that if they could win the Big Ten tourney, then they would be the overall #1 seed. I think that the two main things that stopped that from happening was the fact that OSU lost to both Florida and North Carolina (the two teams seeded above them) early in the season and the fact that the Big Ten title game ended too late for the commitee to consider it.

Midwest Regional
--Upset alert: #5 Butler vs. #12 Old Dominion, #4 Maryland vs. #13 Davidson, and #11 Winthrop vs. #6 Notre Dame.
--#1 Florida seems to have the easiest road of any 1 seed to the Final Four as both #2 Wisconsin and #3 Pittsburgh are coming off rough ends to the season.
--Watch out for the winner of the #7 UNLV/#10 Georgia Tech game to have a serious shot against #2 Wisconsin.

West Regional
--#1 Kansas and #2 UCLA are an extremely strong 1-2 punch out of this region.
--Upset alert: #4 Southern Illinois vs. #13 Holy Cross, #6 Duke vs. #11 VCU
--Ben Howland may face his old team, #3 Pittsburgh, in the Sweet 16.

East Regional
--The top half of this bracket is absolutely loaded with #1 North Carolina and #4 Texas as a potential Sweet 16 game.
--Upset alert: #7 Boston College vs. #10 Texas Tech, #5 USC vs. #12 Arkansas
--Georgetown has a very easy road to the Elite 8 on the the bottom half of this bracket.
--The winner of the game between #8 Marquette and #9 Michigan State will give North Carolina a run in the second round.

South Regional
--#1 Ohio State should have a fairly easy road to the Elite 8 with a weak top half of the bracket.
--Upset alert: #7 Nevada vs. #10 Creighton, #4 Virginia vs. #13 Albany
--#2 Memphis vs. #3 Texas A&M and the winner of that game against Ohio State should both be great games.

Bubble Teams
I think that Drexel and Syracuse were the two teams left out that should have been in. Drexel took advantage of every opprutunity they had to play a major conference opponent by winning at Syracuse, at Villanova and at Creighton. Arkansas was a ridiculous addition in my opinion, as they got in after going 7-9 in the SEC West, a terrible division. Illinois is another team that I don't think deserved to get in as they only had to play Ohio State and Wisconsin one time each in Big Ten play. Two other teams with legitimate at-large claims that got left out were Florida State and Kansas State.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Ohio State-Michigan Outlook

After meeting less than a week ago in Ann Arbor, the Buckeyes face the Wolverines again, this time in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament. Michigan's entire season is riding on this game, as they need a win to even have a shot at getting at at-large bid. Ohio State, on the other hand, has most likely already clinched a #1 seed and as we have seen a few times late in this season, teams that don't have much to play for can be susceptible to an upset (Florida, UCLA, North Carolina). With all that being said though, after how badly Ohio State played last time, if Michigan can't win with OSU playing like that and the game being in Ann Arbor, I just can't see them beating the Buckeyes on a neutral court. I think that OSU will play much better than it did last time, especially having 4 days off in between games, and will beat Michigan fairly handily, keeping alive the streak of not losing to Michigan in football or basketball since February 29, 2004.

Prediction: Ohio State 67, Michigan 55

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Major Conference Tournament Preview: Part 2

Dates: Thursday to Sunday
Regular season champ(s): #1 North Carolina (11-5, 25-6, RPI 3), #2 Virginia (11-5, 20-9, 40)
NCAA locks: North Carolina, Virginia, #3 Virginia tech (10-6, 20-10, 27), #4 Boston College (10-6, 19-10, 30), #5 Maryland (10-6, 24-7, 12), #7 Duke (8-8, 22-9, 14)
NCAA bubble teams: #6 Georgia Tech (8-8, 20-10, 34), #8 Clemson (7-9, 21-9, 36) #9 Florida State (7-9, 19-11, 47)
Most likely early upset: #7 Duke over #2 Virginia, #6 Georgia Tech over #3 Virginia Tech
Best first round matchup: #8 Clemson vs. #9 Florida StateBest potential quarterfinal: #4 Boston College vs. #5 Maryland
Best potential semifinal: #1 North Carolina vs. #5 Maryland
Best potential final: #1 North Carolina vs. #7 Duke
Predictions: #6 Georgia Tech likely needs only a win over #11 Wake Forest to solidify its spot in the NCAA tournament. I think that not only will Georgia Tech win that game, but they will also upset #3 Virginia Tech in the semi-finals. Another early upset I see happening is #7 Duke over #2 Virginia in the semi-finals. That would set up an intriguing pair of semi-finals of Duke vs. Georgia Tech and #1 North Carolina vs. #5 Maryland. I think that UNC and Duke both win to set up a very interesting final. North Carolina gets revenge for Gerald Henderson's hit on Tyler Hansbrough and UNC wins the ACC tourney to clinch a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Big 12
Dates: Thursday to SundayRegular season champ(s): #1 Kansas (14-2, 27-4, 15)
NCAA locks: Kansas, #2 Texas A&M (13-3, 25-5, 16), #3 Texas (12-4, 22-8, 29)
NCAA bubble teams: #5 Texas Tech (9-7, 20-11, 44), #4 Kansas State (10-6, 21-10, 60), #7 Oklahoma State (6-10, 19-11, 58)
Most likely early upset: #10 Nebraska over #7 Oklahoma State
Best first round matchup: #7 Oklahoma State vs. #10 Nebraska
Best potential quarterfinal: #4 Kansas State vs. #5 Texas Tech
Best potential semifinal: #2 Texas A&M vs. #3 Texas
Best potential final: #1 Kansas vs. #2 Texas A&M
Predictions: This is probably the best conference tournament out of any of them because of how interesting a semi-final between #2 Texas A&M and #3 Texas and the final between of that game and #1 Kansas could be. Other than those games, the quarterfinal between #4 Kansas State and #5 Texas Tech is also a very good game. Neither team will be a lock for the NCAA tournament by that point, so both teams will have to treat it as a do-or-die game. I think that Texas Tech wins that game to clinch its NCAA status and sent the Wildcats to the NIT. I see Texas A&M winning the rematch with Texas in the semi-finals, and then Kansas taking them out in a close game in the final.

Big 10
Dates: Thursday to Sunday
Regular season champ(s): #1 Ohio State (15-1, 27-3, 2)
NCAA locks: Ohio State, #2 Wisconsin (13-3, 27-4, 4), #3 Indiana (10-6, 20-9, 24)
NCAA bubble teams: #7 Michigan State (8-8, 21-10, 22), #6 Illinois (9-7, 21-10, 35), #5 Purdue (9-7, 20-10, 46), #8 Michigan (8-8, 20-11, 52)
Most likely early upset: #7 Michigan State over #2 Wisconsin
Best first round matchup: #7 Michigan State vs. #10 Northwestern
Best potential quarterfinal: #2 Wisconsin vs. #7 Michigan State
Best potential semifinal: #2 Wisconsin vs. #3 Indiana
Best potential final: #1 Ohio State vs. #2 Wisconsin
Predictions: There will most likely be a few intriguing quarterfinal matchups in this conference. #8 Michigan's NCAA hopes will hinge on its game against #1 Ohio State. #3 Indiana and #6 Illinois face off for the 3rd time this season after the Eric Gordon recruiting saga. Illinois' hopes likely also hinge on this game. #7 Michigan State will most likely be a lock by the quarterfinals, but they have shown that they can play with #2 Wisconsin and it should be a great game between those two teams. I think that Ohio State, Indiana, and Wisconsin will win those games, and the seedings will hold true to form as Ohio States faces off against Wisconsin for the third time in the final. OSU pulls out another close game and makes its case for getting the #1 overall seed.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Major Conference Tournament Preview: Part 1

Now that the most of the mid-majors have finishd up their tournaments, it's time for the big boys to get started. Over the next two days, I will profile each of the 6 major conference's tournaments. Today's conferences are the Big East, Pac-10 and SEC. In the parentheses are the team's conference record, overall record, and RPI according to ESPN Daily RPI.

Big East Tournament
Dates: Wednesday-Saturday
Regular season champ(s): #1 Georgetown (13-3, 23-6, RPI 17)
NCAA locks: Georgetown, #2 Louisville (12-4, 22-8, 43), #3 Pittsburgh (12-4, 25-6, 5), #4 Notre Dame (11-5, 23-6, 33), #6 Marquette (10-6, 23-8, 23), #9 Villanova (9-7, 21-9, 18)
NCAA bubble teams: #5 Syracuse (10-6, 21-9, 49), #7 West Virginia (9-7, 21-8, 58), #8 DePaul (9-7, 18-12, 59)
Most likely early upset: #7 West Virginia over #2 Louisville, #6 Marquette over #3 Pittsburgh
Best first-round match-up: #8 DePaul vs. #9 Villanova
Best potential quarterfinal: #3 Pittsburgh vs. #6 Marquette
Best potential semi-final: #1 Georgetown vs. #4 Notre Dame
Best potential final: #1 Georgetown vs. #6 Marquette
Predictions: DePaul and West Virginia both likely need two wins in this tournament to get an at-large bid. I think that will motivate DePaul enough to beat Villanova in the first round, and then they will give Georgetown a tough game before barely losing. West Virginia, on the other hand, will get the win they need with an upset over #2 Louisville in the second round. #6 Marquette will beat #3 Pittsburgh again to set up a semi-final matchup between the #6 and #7 seeds. The other side of the bracket will hold true to form as #1 Georgetown will face #4 Notre Dame. West Virginia and Syracuse will do enough to gain at-large bids but DePaul will fall one victory short.

Dates: Wednesday to Saturday
Regular season champ(s): #1 seed UCLA (15-3, 26-4, 1)
NCAA locks: UCLA, #2 Washington State (13-5, 24-6, 26), #3 USC (11-7, 21-10, 54), #4 Oregon (11-7, 23-7, 27), #5 Arizona (11-7, 20-9, 13)
NCAA bubble teams: #6 Stanford (10-8, 18-11, 57), #7 Washington (8-10, 18-12, 74)
Most likely early upset: #7 Washington over #2 Washington State
Best quarterfinal match-up: #4 Oregon vs. #5 Arizona
Best potential semifinal matchup: #1 UCLA vs. #4 Oregon
Best potential final match-up: #1 UCLA vs. #3 USC
Predictions: I think that #3 USC will beat #6 Stanford in the quarterfinals, which will put the Cardinal right on the bubble for the NCAA tournament. The semi-finals will hold true to seedings and be #1 UCLA vs. #4 Oregon and #2 Washington State vs. #3 USC. USC will upset Washington State, setting up a final matchup between cross-town rivals UCLA and USC. USC gets revenge for its two close losses to UCLA during the regular season by upsetting the #1 seed in the final, possibly taking away UCLA's chances of getting the overall #1 seed in the NCAA tournament and propelling USC to a high seed on Selection Sunday. Stanford will barely get into the tournament based off of it's winning record in the best conference in the country.

Dates: Thursday to Sunday
Regular season champ(s): #1E Florida
NCAA locks: Florida (13-3, 26-5, 9), #2E Vanderbilt (10-6, 20-10, 37), #3E Tennesee (10-6, 22-9, 7), #4E Kentucky (9-7, 20-10, 12)
NCAA bubble teams: #1W Mississippi State (8-8, 17-12, 64), #2W Mississippi (8-8, 19-11, 62), #3W Arkansas (7-9, 18-12, 49), #5W Alabama (7-9, 20-10, 45), #5E Georgia (8-8, 17-12, 63)
Most likely early upset: #1W Mississippi State over #4E Kentucky
Best first round matchup: #3E Tennesee vs. #6W LSU
Best potential quarterfinal: #2W Mississippi vs. #3E Tennesee
Best potential semifinal: #1E Florida vs. #3E Tennesee
Best potential final: #1E Florida vs. #2E Vanderbilt
Predictions: All five of the bubble teams in the SEC need a deep run in the conference tournament, to the semifinal at least and probably to the final, to have a chance at getting an at-large bid. There is a very good chance that not a single team from the SEC West will get into the NCAA tournament. I see only one of the bubble teams making it to the semifinal, #1W Mississippi State upsetting #4E Kentucky in the second round, and none of them making to the final. I think that #1E Florida will get it's game back together for the tournament and will avenge earlier losses to #2E Vanderbilt and #3E Tennesee on it's way to the SEC tournament championship. None of the bubble teams will do enough to get in, and the SEC West will be held without an NCAA team.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Power 16: Championship Week Edition

Here is my pre-conference tournament Power 16 poll, ranking the teams that should comprise the top 4 seeds in the NCAA tournament:

1. Ohio State
3. Kansas
4. Texas A&M
5. Wisconsin
6. North Carolina
7. Florida
8. Georgetown
9. Memphis
10. Texas
11. Nevada
12. Louisville
13. Washington State
14. Maryland
15. Southern Illinois
16. Marquette

Following UCLA's loss at Washington in their regular season finale, Ohio State moves up to the #1 spot after squeaking past Michigan. Kansas has been on a roll lately, and won the Big 12 conference title outright by beating Texas at home. With that win, the Jayhawks were able to avoid playing either Texas A&M or Texas until the Big 12 final. Even though UCLA lost to Washington, they still had a big win earlier in the week at Washington State and they won the Pac-10 conference by 2 games. I don't think that Texas A&M should be penalized too much for losing a double overtime thriller to Texas, especially when Florida and North Carolina lost also. North Carolina fell to Georgia Tech and Florida lost to Tennesee, both of them in games that weren't especially close. Wisconsin was able to squeeze past Michigan State, after Kamroon Taylor hit a game-winning 3 with 4 seconds left.

Following that top tier of seven teams, the rest of the field is really wide-open. Even with the loss at Syracuse, Georgetown has still been playing great basketball lately. Memphis and Nevada have astounding records, but they both play in extremely weak conferences. Texas won at Texas A&M and almost at Kansas also, and they are really hitting their stride at the right time. Louisville has won 6 games in a row, and 10 of their lost 12, and the Cardinals are the #2 seed in the Big East tournament this week. Washington State bounced back from the tough loss to UCLA with a close win over USC, and they came in 2nd place in the Pac-10. Maryland is playing really well lately, and they won seven straight ACC games to end the regular season. Southern Illinois fell in the MVC tournament final to #2 seed Creighton, but still will get at least a 4 seed. Marquette's win over Pittsburgh was enough to push the Golden Eagles into the 16th slot.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Ohio State: Building a Basketball Powerhouse

The Ohio State University has always been known as a football school. On fall Saturdays, everywhere you look, there are scarlet and gray jerseys and shirts on everyone from baby girls to elderly grandparents. Sure, Ohio State has some basketball history, mainly from the days of Fred Taylor, Jerry Lucas, and John Havlicek, but basketball never came close to threatening football in popularity or success. However, nowadays it seems like Thad Matta is ushering in a golden age of Ohio State basketball, with almost unlimited potential for how high this program can grow.

Already, Matta has brought a winning mentality to Ohio State that hasn't been here since the days of Jimmy Jackson. In the last two years, Ohio State has won back-to-back outright Big Ten championships, something that hasn't happened since Ohio State won three titles in a row from 1959-1962. In fact, Ohio State only won one outright Big Ten title (1991-1992) from 1971 to 2005. That means that Matta has won more outright Big Ten titles already than Ohio State did in the 34 years preceding him. Last year Matta won the title with a bunch of players that simply bought into his system and believed in what he was teaching. This year, Matta won the title with the help of freshmen from the best recruiting class Ohio State has ever seen. And that's what truly makes Matta and this growing Ohio State program special: recruiting.

Consider these facts. In a four year span from 2002 to 2005, Ohio State recruited just ten players, which included zero 5-star prospects and 5 four-star prospects. Only five of those ten players even stayed with Ohio State, as the other five either dropped out or transferred. That means that 0% of Ohio State's recruits were 5-star prospects and 50% were 4-star prospects. Thad Matta has recruited three full classes for Ohio State in his time here (class of 2006, 2007, and 2008). In those three classes, the Buckeyes have signed an astounding 8 (8!) 5-star recruits, and 7 4-star recruits. They have signed 15 players total. That means that 100% of Ohio State's recruits three seasons in a row are at least four-star recruits, and more than half of them are 5-star recruits. The Buckeyes have gone from getting no 5-star recruits to averaging almost three 5-star's a year in the blink of an eye.

The way that Matta is doing all of this is even more incredible. He is telling these kids that if they go to Ohio State, they will win championships. And even better, they are doing just that and actually winning championships. Obviously, the 2006 class was Matta's absolute best job recruiting. To immediately step into a new job, and recruit 3 5-star players, including the player who was considered the best high school big man since Bill Walton, was remarkable. He completely sold those players on his belief. The players could have gone anywhere in the country, but they chose to go to a football school like Ohio State because the coach was able to convince them of his vision.

Things haven't slowed down since that 2006 class. The 2007 class is a top ten class also (#9 on Scout, #6 on Rivals) and includes McDonald's All-American 7-2 center Kosta Koufos. In addition to Koufos, Matta signed four 4-star players, all of whom are 6-5 or taller, and all of whom have the ability to contribute immediately. Even though signing day isn't until November (over 8 months away) Matta has already managed to sign a complete 2008 recruiting class that could potentially be as good or even better than the 2006 class. Four members of the 2008 class are 5-star players that are ranked in the top 25 recruits in the country. Included in that group are the #2 center in the country, BJ Mullens, the #3 shooting guard in the country, William Buford, the #3 point guard in the country, Anthony Crater, and the #10 power forward (and #20 overall prospect), Luke Babbit.

At this point, the only thing that could potentially sidetrack Ohio State is that they almost have an excess of amazing talent. Every single player they recruit now has the ability to play right away, but that just won't be able to happen. Nonetheless, the Buckeyes will be supremely talented for a long, long time. Even if (when) Oden leaves after this season, Ohio State definitely won't need to panic. When you get the top 7-foot center in the country three years in a row, as Ohio State has done, there's not much to worry about at that position. Just imagine the potential lineups for the next two years. Next season: Starting lineup: Mike Conley, Jamar Butler, Dequan Cook, Othello Hunter, Kosta Koufos. Bench: David Lighty, Matt Terwilliger, Dallas Lauderale, Jon Diebler, Evan Turner, Eric Wallace. That team goes 11-deep with talented players. Then consider what the roster will look like two years from now (even if Cook leaves to go to the NBA after two seasons): Conley, Koufos, Lighty, Lauderale, Diebler, Turner, Wallace, Mullens, Buford, Crater, Babbit, and Walter Offutt. That's 12 players on one roster that were either 4 or 5-star recruits coming out of high school. That is simply a ridiculous statistic. If these players continue to grow as players and Matta recruits half as well as he's been recruiting, the Buckeyes can be a serious Big Ten and national title contender for many years to come.

As you can see, the Ohio State basketball program is on the rise as much as any program in the country and Ohio State is on the verge of becoming the next college basketball powerhouse. Ten years from now, people could be talking about Ohio State is the same context as Duke, UCLA, North Carolina, Kentucky, etc. As long as Matta, possibly the best college basketball recruiter ever, is the head coach, I don't see anything stopping this program from reaching that level. So enjoy this golden age of Ohio State basketball, as it may be something that you one day tell your grandchildren about.