As I have mentioned many times on this blog, dating back to well over a year ago, Ohio State will go to the Final Four this year. In my opinion, they are the nation’s best team. I do feel that Duke would have been the favorite had Kyrie Irving not have gone down. But injuries happen.
I have talked about what makes Ohio State so good. They have the perfect mix of talent, experience, and chemistry. When rumors of an outstanding incoming freshman class started transpiring well over a year ago, many considered Ohio State to be a team that would be in contention. But when Evan Turner left for the draft, people already wrote them off. They decided that Ohio State would be solid, but probably a top 20 team that was not quite as good as the Big Ten’s elite teams, Purdue and Michigan State. I stuck by the Buckeyes and will continue to. And here is why.
Freshman talent is a great thing. Just ask University of Kentucky Coach John Calipari. These one and done phenoms can make your team an instant contender. But sadly, they are not enough generally to bring home the crown. UK last year had arguably the two best players in the country, in John Wall and Demarcus Cousins. They had 5 guys get selected in the first round. Yet they did not even make the Final Four..
Experience still matters even in the one and done age people. Though I will state that Kentucky will put this theory to the test next year when they bring in 4 of the top 5 rated players in America. Experience is something that this Ohio State team possesses though. They returned 4 starters from last year’s very talented squad. 3 of these gentlemen are seniors while the other is a junior. Then they brought in this phenomenal freshman class. And little did most people outside of Buckeye Nation know, but 4 of these diaper dandies came from the same AAU team. An AAU team that dominated the summer circuit more than any team has in recent memory. This team brought home 3 consecutive National Titles and really just laid a smack down on any and all teams nation wide. These 4 kids are good friends. And they all decided to take the next step together. Thad Matta hit the jackpot when he visited the All Ohio Red Basketball program. Or maybe he hit the jackpot in that JJ Sullinger (Jared’s older brother), played for him at Ohio State. Either way, Matta reeled in the perfect class that had a great winning demeanor and was ready to work from Day 1.
I could talk about each of the specific parts all day on this elite team, but I am not going to. Today I am going to delve into the guy that I feel is the X Factor. Sure Jared Sullinger is the star. The man is the best post presence in America. Sure William Buford is the guy who can light it from the mid range better than any guy in the country. But the guy that I feel puts Ohio State over the top is the senior, Jon Diebler. Now hear me out on this.
Jared Sullinger is the best post player in America. So many teams are forced to double team him on the block or he will dominate all night. Buford is a major threat from mid range and even the 3-point arc. The freshman point guard, Aaron Kraft has phenomenal court vision. And Lighty can flat-out fly. So once you have to account for all of these things, the Diebler Assassin will still be lurking on the perimeter. This guy is about to become the all time leader in Big Ten history for 3-pointers made.
So if you pack things inside defensively, Diebler is going to light you up all night. The senior is currently shooting nearly 47% from long-range and also is playing the best defense of his career. If you play this team straight up, you will get hurt in a number of ways, especially inside by Sullinger. There is no team in America that features the inside/out presence of the Ohio State offensive unit. So pick your poison when defending the Buckeyes. Either way, it is going to be a long night.
But do not forget about the Buckeye X-Factor Jon Diebler hanging out on the perimeter. He will make it hurt.
Many great players have played in the Big Ten. But none will be able to say that they have hit as many 3’s as Jon Diebler after Sunday’s game against Purdue.
Be wary of the Buckeye X-Factor.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.