Tuesday, May 02, 2006

ACC/Big Ten Challenge Matchups

So, OSU's got possibly the most-hyped recruiting class since Michigan's Fab Five coming in next season. There's talk of championships before the guys ever step on a college court. Expectations are way high. If you were Thad Matta, how would you handle this? Well, if you're thinking like me, you'd bring them along slowly. Get them time against some lesser teams, don't ask them to carry the team against quality opponents until later in the season, when they're experienced and have developed some chemistry. So is that what's happening?

Not exactly.

In the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, Ohio State's playing North Carolina. This isn't a must-win game or anything, but still, there will be quite a bit of pressure on these guys, as it's a chance to get a win against a premier program and establish OSU as one of the teams to beat during the season.

I expect Matta to lean pretty heavily on the returning players in this game, and throughout the early part of the season. Jamar Butler and Ron Lewis will be the keys to the early part of the season, I think. Greg Oden will almost certainly start, of course, and I expect Daequan Cook to either start or see significant minutes, but Butler and Lewis will be the ones relied upon to keep this team calm and focused.

There's quite a few similarities between our football and basketball teams now. Both are being talked about as national title contenders. Both have big-name recruits coming in (Oden and Chris Wells). Both will need inexperienced players to produce if they want to live up to the hype. And now, both have big matchups early on that could set the tone for the season. Should be exciting.

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