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Who is best among Ohio State, Syracuse, and Duke next year?

  • We've already discussed UNC vs UK, and I think almost everyone would have those as the top 2 in the land next year. But who rounds out the top 5? Ohio State, Syracuse, and Duke have received the most hype by most of the prognosticators, so how would you rank them?

    This is what I'm thinking:

    #3) Ohio State: I think Sullinger is what separates them from Syracuse and Duke. Sullinger will be a preseason first-team all-American, and he will likely average 20 and 10 next year. Aaron Craft should be a top-notch PG for them (especially on the defensive end) and William Buford might become the prolific perimeter scorer that can keep the double-teams away from Sully. Toss in Deshaun Thomas and a very strong recruiting class, and I think they are a bit better than Syracuse and Duke.

    #4) Syracuse: You could argue that Syracuse has more good players than Ohio State, but they don't have anyone who will produce like Sullinger or who has the raw talent of Buford. They do, however, have a very nice group of perimeter players such as Scoop Jardine, Kris Joseph, Dion Waiters and Brandon Triche, along with a top recruiting class. What really hurts them is the fact that Fab Melo has yet to mature, both on and off the court. If he was showing signs that he would play like the five-star recruit that he was supposed to be, then (like OSU with Sullinger) Syracuse would have a monster in the middle whom they could count on to patrol the paint and dominate the interior. It is probably more likely, however, that Boeheim turns to freshman Rakeem Christmas to play big minutes despite being a year younger than Melo.

    #5) Duke: The early exodus of Texas freshmen Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph, along with my inability to, with good conscience, rank Vandy in the top 5, leaves the #5 spot to Duke. This year represents a new core for Duke, which has lost most of the key players from its 2010 championship team. Now they will rely upon a trio of Plumlees (Mason, Miles, and Marshall), Doc Rivers' son (Austin), and a PG whose name I can't pronounce (Michael Gbinije). They also have some perimeter depth with guys like Andre Dawkins, Seth Curry, and Quinn Cook, so the Duke bench will be well-stocked with talented players. The big questions for Duke are "Who will step up into leadership roles?" and "Who will carry the scoring load?" My initial guess is that Austin Rivers will carry the scoring load (sometimes, perhaps, with a little too much fervor), and he will battle with the older Plumlees to become the team leader. Rivers is a talented player, but I wonder if his perceived arrogance (whether fair or unfair) is for real or if he will be a model teammate. Even if everything works out perfectly for Duke next season, I still think they will struggle to score down low. The Plumlees are big, they play hard, and they are good athletes, but none of them seem to be able to create their own offense down low -- instead, doing most of their damage on the offensive glass and dump-offs. If one of them develops a legit low-post game, then I would consider bumping them above Syracuse.

    Honorable mentions:

    Vanderbilt
    Louisville
    UConn

    @ColtenJones on Twitter

  • Ohio State is going to be better than those other teams IMO. Sullinger is going to destroy the Big10 this year. Even though he is going to face more double teams this year without Diebler in there, but thats where Thomas can be huge if he can step up and make outside shots.

    mkillian247 on twitter..... I say a lot of stuff you wont care about.

  • WildcatSportsReport

    Gary Randazzo

    Colten Jones said... (original post)

    Ohio State is going to be better than those other teams IMO. Sullinger is going to destroy the Big10 this year. Even though he is going to face more double teams this year without Diebler in there, but thats where Thomas can be huge if he can step up and make outside shots.

    Excellent point. No denying Sullinger can and likely will dominate, but one can never underestimate the value of a "sniper" like Deibler being placed on the same side of the floor as Sullinger (in the block) and taking away that drop down double team from the wing area.

    WSR Publisher National Basketball Recruiting Analyst Football Writers Association of America U.S. Basketball Writers Association

  • Bucknuts

    BBucksorBeGone8

    Thomas simply has to be able to hit consistently from outside. If he or no one does they are going to pack the paint. I am hoping Amir Williams plays big as a freshman so Sully can stay at the 4 spot. It is his natural spot and he has been working on his jumper.

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  • BBucksorBeGone8 said... (original post)

    Thomas simply has to be able to hit consistently from outside. If he or no one does they are going to pack the paint. I am hoping Amir Williams plays big as a freshman so Sully can stay at the 4 spot. It is his natural spot and he has been working on his jumper.

    Agreed. Sullinger is best suited (both now and in the NBA) to play the 4. If he has to play big minutes in the middle, then it might stunt his growth -- particularly on the offensive end.

    @ColtenJones on Twitter

  • Bucknuts

    BBucksorBeGone8

    Colten Jones said... (original post)

    Agreed. Sullinger is best suited (both now and in the NBA) to play the 4. If he has to play big minutes in the middle, then it might stunt his growth -- particularly on the offensive end.

    Yep and that is another one of the big reasons he came back was because we were bringing in a center and he would play the 4. Heard about a month ago not to look for Amir to play out as a frosh and afford Sully those opps. I am hoping that is not the case.

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  • BearcatJournal

    shaunsimpson

    Ohio State's success this year could be determined on the ability of another big stepping up. Losing Diebler was huge, but Sullinger can not be the only offensive threat on offense down low. I don't know if Amir Williams is ready to fill that void, but I think that determines if OSU can make it to the final four - and we all know anything can happen once you get there.