Tonight the Ohio State Buckeyes, ranked no. 3 in the polls, take on the Florida Gators, ranked no. 8, at Value City Arena.
Such early games make college basketball a lot of fun. It’s great to see the powerhouses play each other, and unlike college football, an early season loss isn’t fatal to your chances to win it all. In the meantime, you get a rough sense of how your team matches up and how far they have to go. Ohio State and Florida have developed a pretty good basketball rivalry recently, and last year’s game, in which the Buckeyes beat the Gators at Florida, helped to show that the 2010-2011 team was going to be special.
This year, the Buckeyes have a lot of unanswered questions. Last year’s team featured three great seniors — David Lighty, Jon Diebler, and Dallas Lauderdale — and this year’s team has only one in William Buford. This year’s nucleus is strong, with Buford, Jared Sullinger, and Aaron Craft, but we don’t know whether the other pieces of the puzzle will fit well together. It appears that Coach Thad Matta has tons of talent, but chemistry and playing defense count for a lot, too. Florida, on the other hand, has a great team that will light up the scoreboards this season. The Gators are led by guard Kenny Boynton — one of the best in the country — as well as point guard Erving Walker and forward Patric Young.
This is a game with many intriguing story lines. Can Aaron Craft, the Buckeyes’ defensive whiz, harass and shut down Boynton? Who’s going to guard Jared Sullinger? And which heretofore unheralded player is going to step up and make a name for himself in this nationally televised clash?