Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 11/10/11

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series.  Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days.  We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

During last season, it seemed very likely that the Ohio State Buckeyes would lose all five starters.  However, Jared Sullinger and William Buford chose to return to school rather than enter the NBA Draft.  Those two will anchor a young, but very talented team that should once again be in national title contention and could possibly be even better than last year’s team that won 34 games.

OHIO STATE BUCKEYES
Last Season: 1st, 16-2 in Big Ten, 34-3 overall
Predicted Big Ten Finish: 1st

Projected Depth Chart
C: Jared Sullinger (So)/Amir Williams (Fr)/Trey McDonald (Fr)
F: DeShaun Thomas (So)/Evan Ravenel (Jr)
G/F: Willian Buford (Sr)/Sam Thompson (Fr)/J.D. Weatherspoon (So)
SG: Lenzelle Smith (So)/Jordan Sibert (So)
PG: Aaron Craft (So)/Shannon Scott (Fr)

Gone: G-Jon Diebler, G/F-David Lighty, C-Dallas Lauderdale, C-Nikola Kecman

2011-2012 Outlook:
Sullinger would have easily been a top five pick in last season’s NBA Draft but decided to come back to Columbus.  He is a beast down low as both a scorer and rebounder but also has a nice touch on him jumper and range out to the three-point line.  Sullinger has slimmed down since last season and looks to be in amazing shape which will only help his all-around game.  He will draw a ton of attention on the block from opposing teams which should help open up opportunities for the other Buckeyes on the perimeter.

DeShaun Thomas will join Sullinger in the starting frontcourt.  The lefty has a solid inside/outside game and a knack for scoring the basketball.  He will need to tighten up his play on the defensive and play bigger since OSU will likely use a lot of three guard looks with Thomas at the four.

After a solid freshman season, Buford has been somewhat of enigma being overshadowed by guys like Evan Turner and Sullinger.  Buford has a smooth stroke from the outside but needs to become more aggressive in attacking the basket this season to help reach his full potential.

Aaron Craft was the Big Ten’s Sixth Man of the Year a season ago but ultimately played starters minutes.  He hounds people and plays with an edge on the defensive end.  Offensively, he is a terrific floor general and can also shoot the ball from deep.  It looks like off guard Lenzelle Smith will be the fifth starter at the beginning of the season.  Smith was seldom used a year ago but has a solid all-around game.  He won’t be asked to do too much on the offensive end with so much talent surrounding him and will really benefit the team if he can end up replacing David Lighty as the team’s glue guy.

Thad Matta has not gone very deep on his bench the past couple seasons, keeping his rotation to seven or eight players.  With a lot of talented youngsters in the fold, it will take some time for Matta to figure out what what reserves will play what roles but it certainly gives him more options than he has had in previous years.

Boston College transfer Evan Ravenel figures to be the first post player off the bench.  He is an active and athletic power forward who will make his biggest impact as a rebounder and defender.  Ravenel holds the edge over McDonald’s All-American Amir Williams due to Ravenel’s experience.  However, the long Williams offers more size and a shot blocking presence, and could be called upon if Matta chooses to use a bigger line-up.  Trey McDonald doesn’t figure to crack the rotation and could end up redshirting.  LaQuinton Ross was supposed to give the Buckeyes another frontcourt option but was ruled a non-qualifier by the NCAA and will not play for Ohio State this season.

Another McDonald’s All-American, Shannon Scott will serve as the back-up point guard when Craft needs a blow.  The two could be used on the floor at the same time.  Jordan Sibert gives Ohio State a shooter off the bench while Sam Thompson has ridiculous athleticism and is the definition of a high flyer.  J.D. Weatherspoon figures to once again be the odd man out of the rotation.

Player to Watch: Aaron Craft
It is really hard not to like this kid’s game.  He gives 100% on every possession and I am not sure I have every enjoyed watching someone play defense as much I do with Craft.  Despite only being a sophomore, he doesn’t shy away from being a vocal leader on the floor but also backs it up with his effort and ability.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/15 vs. Florida
11/29 vs. Duke (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)
12/10 at Kansas
12/17 at South Carolina

OTHER 111 IN 111′S:
#4 UConn Huskies
#5 Duke Blue Devils
#6 Syracuse Orange
#7 Baylor Bears
#8 Pitt Panthers
#9 Vanderbilt Commodores
#10 Memphis Tigers
#11 Florida Gators
#12 Xavier Musketeers
#13 Louisville Cardinals
#14 Arizona Wildcats
#15 Wisconsin Badgers
#16 Alabama Crimson Tide
#17 Gonzaga Bulldogs
#18 Marquette Golden Eagles
#19 Texas A&M Aggies
#20 Michigan Wolverines
#21 New Mexico Lobos
#22 Temple Owls
#23 Cincinnati Bearcats
#24 Kansas Jayhawks
#25 UNLV Rebels
#26 Washington Huskies
#27 UCLA Bruins
#28 Butler Bulldogs
#29 Missouri Tigers
#30 Texas Longhorns
#31 Villanova Wildcats
#32 Michigan State Spartans
#33 Florida State Seminoles
#34 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
#35 Harvard Crimson
#36 Illinois Fighting Illini
#37 Oregon Ducks
#38 Wichita State Shockers
#39 Cal Golden Bears
#40 Belmont Bruins
#41 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#42 Saint Mary’s Gaels
#43 Purdue Boilermakers
#44 BYU Cougars
#45 Kansas State Wildcats
#46 West Virginia Mountaineers
#47 Virginia Cavaliers
#48 George Mason Patriots
#49 Old Dominion Monarchs
#50 VCU Rams
#51 Kent State Golden Flashes
#52 Arkansas Razorbacks
#53 St. John’s Red Storm
#54 Northwestern Wildcats
#55 Georgetown Hoyas
#56 Miami Hurricanes
#57 Nevada Wolfpack
#58 Detroit Titans
#59 UCF Knights
#60 Long Beach State 49ers
#61 Virginia Tech Hokies
#62 Clemson Tigers
#63 New Mexico State Aggies
#64 Tennessee Volunteers
#65 Iona Gaels
#66 Murray State Racers
#67 N.C. State Wolfpack
#68 Fairfield Stags
#69 George Washingon Colonials
#70 Indiana State Sycamores
#71 Oklahoma State Cowboys
#72 Indiana Hoosiers
#73 UAB Blazers
#74 Iowa State Cyclones
#75 Creighton Bluejays
#76 USC Trojans
#77 Weber State Wildcats
#78 Maryland Terrapins
#79 Tulsa Golden Hurricane
#80 Minnesota Golden Gophers
#81 Western Michigan Broncos
#82 Dayton Flyers
#83 Stanford Cardinal
#84 Yale Bulldogs
#85 Georgia Bulldogs
#86 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#87 Richmond Spiders
#88 Ball State Cardinals
#89 Utah State Aggies
#90 Arizona State Sun Devils
#91 Marshall Thundering Herd
#92 Oregon State Beavers
#93 Washington State Cougars
#94 Iowa Hawkeyes
#95 Ole Miss Rebels
#96 Nebraska Cornhuskers
#97 Oklahoma Sooners
#98 South Florida Bulls
#99 LSU Tigers
#100 Colorado Buffaloes
#101 DePaul Blue Demons
#102 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#103 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#104 Seton Hall Pirates
#105 Providence Friars
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 South Carolina Gamecocks
#108 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#109 Penn State Nittany Lions
#110 Boston College Eagles
#111 Utah Utes

David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.

You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.

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