Ohio State vs Akron NCAA Basketball Preview and Picks
Revenge is the name of the game. Nobody needs to be reminded of last season’s tragic finish for Chris Holtmann’s Buckeyes. This year needs to be different. Holtmann has done a phenomenal job of bringing Ohio State back to the forefront of college hoops, but they need to string some wins together in March for anything else to matter.
However, March is over four months away and the Buckeyes have bigger fish to fry for now. That first fish being the Akron Zips.
I would be a lot more intimidated if Ohio State was playing last year’s Akron team because this year’s squad doesn’t have much depth. sixth-year transfer KJ Walton is someone to look out for tonight. He’s someone who can go get a bucket at will, but he isn’t going to do much from beyond the arc. Besides Walton, this roster doesn’t have any other big pieces to talk over.
Then what should we expect out of the Buckeyes this year? Last season’s defense wasn’t anything special, finishing just 82nd in KenPom’s Adj. DE rankings, but I think this year’s squad will be one of the best in the nation with the addition of Jamari Wheeler.
I’m confident in this team’s defense, but there’s no guarantee that they will be successful. I can guarantee that EJ Lidell will be one of the best players in the Big 10 this season. He took a lot of heat for last year’s tournament loss and I think he will take his game to another level. Ohio State will only go as far as he can take them, so his continued growth will be vital.
The loss of Duane Washington to the NBA will be tough to recover from, but I think freshman Malaki Branham, Meechie Johnson Jr., and Louisiana transfer, Cedric Russell, can do enough to make up for the lost scoring.
Getting back to tonight’s matchup, it’ll be interesting to see who even plays tonight for Ohio State. There hasn’t been much media coverage of the team leading up to game day, but half the team has already been put on the injury report. Seth Towns is out for at least the entire month of November with no timetable to return. Starting forwards Justice Sueing and Kyle Young are both game-time decisions with minor injuries. Lastly, Justin Ahrens was also reported to be banged up, leaving the Buckeyes with even less depth.
With all those negatives out of the way, let’s not overthink this season opener. I would hammer Ohio State -16.5, and also don’t be afraid to bet the over. This Ohio State team can score in bunches, and might just get near 100 points all by themselves.
Prediction: Ohio State 91-68
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