Columbus, OH – The third-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes open the 12 season tonight at home against the Wright State Raiders. Both teams are participating in the Global Sports Shootout, with the first four games for the teams being part of the event.
Wright State enters its 42nd season of men's basketball, and 25th at the Division I level. Wright State, which is a member of the Horizon League and is coached by Billy Donlon, is 27-14 all-time in season openers. WSU has played one game against a higher-ranked team than this Ohio State club, losing at No. 1 Michigan State on December 30, 2000, 88-61. The Raiders went 19-14 last year, but a lack of experience will undoubtedly hurt the squad, at least in the early stages of this season.
Ohio State went 34-3 last season, winning 16 of its 18 Big Ten Conference bouts along the way. The Buckeyes are coached by Thad Matta, who enters his eighth season at the helm, and the team is 7-0 in season openers under his watchful eye. Overall, OSU is 90-18 in lidlifters, and 86-22 in home openers. The favorite to win the Big Ten this season and challenge for the national title, the Buckeyes have a wealth of talent, notably sophomore sensation Jared Sullinger.
Ohio State won both previous meetings with Wright State, the most recent of which took place back in 1992. The Buckeyes are 54-11 all-time against teams from the Horizon League.
Wright State comes into this new campaign with four new starters, and there isn't a player on the roster with more than one year of experience with the Raiders. That said, coach Donlon will have to figure out in a hurry where the offense is going to come from, as nearly 90 percent of last year's scoring is gone. Diminutive point guard Reggie Arceneaux is going to have to step up his game considerably, as will fellow guards Julius Mays and John Balwigaire. In the frontcourt, expect guys like Johann Mpondo and Armond Battle to log plenty of minutes, although none of the aforementioned has demonstrated the ability to take over a game at either end of the floor.
Even with the loss of three starters from last year's impressive team, Ohio State appears primed for another sensational run as there are few players in the country who can control a game like Sullinger can. An incredible talent who checks in at 6-9 and 280 pounds, Sullinger is coming off a rookie campaign in which he shot better than 54 percent from the field and averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Sullinger earned All-America accolades last year, and elevating his play even more will assure Ohio State its place among the elite not only in the Big Ten, but nationally as well. Senior William Buford (14.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.9 apg) was one of the team's top three-point shooters a year ago (.442), and he is back to lend support as the team's veteran presence, while sophomore Aaron Craft is back after he led the team in assists (4.8 per tilt) in 2010-11. OSU averaged 77.1 ppg on 49.4 percent field goal efficiency last season, and coach Matta's clubs typically play solid defense as well (59.7 ppg).