COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State men’s basketball opens their 2018-19 regular season schedule on Wednesday night at Cincinnati as the Buckeyes are hoping to continue their success from Chris Holtmann’s stellar first season as head coach of the program.
Ohio State and Cincinnati both lost a good portion of their top players from last year as the Bearcats will no longer have three of their top four scorers from last season and the Buckeyes will be without five of their top seven scorers after three players graduated (Jae’Sean Tate, Kam Williams, Andrew Dakich), the Big Ten Player of the Year Keita Bates-Diop left for the NBA and the most recent development of Micah Potter transferring out of the program. You can read about how his transfer will affect the Buckeyes here.
Ohio State is now lead by 2017-18 Big Ten All-Freshman forward Kaleb Wesson and leading returning scorer C.J. Jackson, the only two returning starters for the Buckeyes this season.
Cincinnati will be lead by junior guard Jarron Cumberland, who averaged 11.5 PPG, 4 RPG and 2.9 APG last season for the Bearcats. UC will also be featuring plenty of new starters as well so it’ll be interesting to see two new-look Ohio teams facing off against each other tonight in the Queen City.
It was the veterans who won a lot of games for Ohio State last season, but it’ll have to be the youth that does it this year as Ohio State has just two seniors on their 2018-19 squad (C.J. Jackson and Joey Lane). Ohio State will have a new look as we can expect to see freshman Luther Muhammad at point guard this season for Ohio State as well as Andre Wesson and Kyle Young being projected starters, at least for the season opener.
Losing that much scoring is going to be hard to replace. With the schedule that Ohio State opens with here in the first few weeks of the season, especially playing a season opener on the road against a team that has made eight straight NCAA Tournament appearances, we could be in for a few losses for this team. However, the Buckeyes suffered the majority of their losses at the beginning of the season last year and then went on to finish second in the Big Ten regular season standings.
Now, if we’re setting realistic expectations, this team is probably not going to be competing for a Big Ten championship and that’s okay. Chris Holtmann has already established a culture of winning again within the Ohio State men’s basketball program and he’s already securing some recruits as he already has the No. 1 recruiting class for 2019 in the Big Ten, No. 7 nationally.
This season is all about developing young talent for the Buckeyes and seeing just how far they can go with that youth.
Ohio State may have a tough challenge ahead of them tonight with this in-state clash, but the Buckeyes have not lost a season opener since 2003, so they have that working to their advantage.
Prediction: 67-64 Ohio State
Ohio State will tip off against Cincinnati tonight at 6:00pm ET at Fifth Third Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
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