Last night, the 16th ranked Ohio State Buckeye basketball team defeated the 10th ranked Villanova squad 76-51. The Buckeyes have a brutal non-conference schedule that was kicked off by beating Cincinnati and now Villanova. They will play college basketball’s elite in North Carolina and Kentucky later on. In addition, they will play a solid West Virginia and, not to mention, the Buckeyes must get through the Big Ten, which could be considered the top conference in college basketball. Here are a few takeaways from the Buckeye basketball blowout of Villanova.
Watch Out For This Ohio State Buckeye Basketball Team
Kaleb Wesson Is A New Man
The “Basket-Bucks” big man contemplated the jump to the NBA after last season. After some thought, Kaleb Wesson decided to return to Ohio State for his Junior season. This move is going to benefit not only him but the team as well. Last season, Wesson was a force to be reconded with, but this year, he is a new man. In 35 minutes, Wesson dropped ten points, eleven rebounds, and four blocks. He shot 4-9 from the field and was a perfect 2-2 at the free-throw line.
After the Buckeyes basketball team was eliminated from last year’s tournament, Wesson decided to shed some weight. An off-season of training has allowed him to drop 34 pounds. This has allowed the 6 foot 9 inch forward to play with a kind of agility he’s never seen. Wesson is going to lead the Buckeyes basketball squad to greatness this season. His presence on the court is felt by all and the team seemed to gel against Villanova. While their success is not contingent on Wesson’s (like it was in the past with Keita Bates-Diop or D’Angelo Russell), success will be much easier when Wesson is feeling it.
Super Star Sophomores
On a squad with zero Seniors, the leadership and production will have to come from somewhere. In addition to the Wesson twins, the Buckeyes basketball team can expect great things from Sophomores Duane Washington, Jr. and Luther Muhammed. These guards were absolutely on fire against Villanova. They were a combined 9-13 from the field (6-8 from behind the 3-point line) and 25 points. It seemed like these two were feeding off of each other’s energy and it felt like they just could not miss.
This Buckeyes basketball team will be led by these two dynamic scorers. Pair these two with the Wesson twins and you’ve got yourself an exciting group that will run through the Big Ten. Admittedly, Washington had four turnovers. Once he can limit his turnovers, Washington will give Buckeye basketball fans a reason to break out those number four jerseys again (since Aaron Craft has since retired from basketball). Muhammed is good enough to lead the team, so do not be surprised to see him atop the scorers’ sheet a few times this season.
When Chris Holtmann took over at Ohio State, expectations were not high. When he led his 2017 squad to a 25-9 record and a second-place finish is a very good Big Ten, it raised eyebrows. This was impressive due to the fact that the Buckeyes went 17-15 and missed the tournament in the previous year. Now, Holtmann has a team of “his guys.” This season’s freshmen class is highlighted by EJ Liddell, DJ Carton, and Alonso Gaffney. In the first two games of this season, these three had begun to come into their own. Carton, for example, shot an impressive 83.3% from the field and logged 13 points against UMass-Lowell.
Against Villanova, Carton led the trio in minutes and points all while leading the team in attempted shots. Naturally, there have been bumps in the road, considering he shot 4-10 from the field and 0-2 from 3-point range. He made up for these lackluster numbers by posting five rebounds and five assists, not to mention his Sportscenter Top 10 dunk. Liddell was phenomenal in the 12 minutes he was on the court. In his limited time, he was perfect from the field and from behind the arc, 3-3 and 2-2, respectively. He did have some growing pains, of course, as he led the team in fouls with three. Finally, Gaffney made the most of his 11 minutes and made both of his attempted shots.
Our Honor Defend…
Thus far, the Buckeye basketball team has passed both of its tests by thoroughly shutting down a great defensive team in Cincinnati and the always-great Villanova. The Buckeye defense, along with a little bit of poor shooting, led the way in this game. Villanova finished the game shooting a meager 30.6% from the field and 33.3% from 3-point land. It also helps that they were 3-7 in free throws. Ohio State, on the other hand, shot 60% from the field and 56.3% from behind the arc.
With matchups against elite programs like North Carolina, Kentucky, and West Virginia out of conference, it should ready them for Big Ten play. The Big Ten schedule, of course, is loaded. They will have to face Maryland (twice), Michigan (twice), Purdue, and Michigan State. When March Madness rolls around, don’t be afraid to bet on this Buckeye basketball team. They will be tested and ready for prime time.
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