Buckeyes Picked for Third in B1G
By Rob Ogden
Eight months removed from its Elite Eight loss to Wichita State, Ohio State was picked to finish third in the Big Ten by a panel of conference media, the league announced Thursday.
Michigan State was chosen as the unanimous favorite heading into the 2013-14 men's basketball season, followed by Michigan, who was picked to finish second.
Ohio State, the reigning Big Ten Tournament champions, return four starters from a squad that went 29-8 a year ago.
Photo by Jim Davidson
The Buckeyes are led by senior point guard Aaron Craft, who was named preseason All-Big Ten by the media.
Michigan sophomore forwards Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III, Michigan State sophomore guard Gary Harris and senior center Adreian Payne, and Penn State senior guard Tim Frazier joined Craft on the preseason team.
Six members were selected for the team due to a tie.
Harris was voted as the preseason Big Ten Player of the Year.
Despite returning four of his starters, coach Thad Matta will have the task of figuring out how to replicate the offensive production of Deshaun Thomas, who averaged a team-leading 20 points per game for the Buckeyes last season.
Thomas was selected by the San Antonio Spurs with the 58th pick of June's NBA Draft.
Matta said without Thomas, the team will need more scoring contributions across the board.
"Deshaun Thomas had the ability to make difficult shots and we gave him a lot of opportunities to score," Matta said. "Everybody on the team has made drastic improvements offensively. That's exciting for me."
Matta said the team possess great ball movement, and characterized them as an unselfish unit. He added that centers Amir Williams and Trey McDonald have been a lot more productive down low than they were last season.
The Buckeyes hit the court for the first time Sunday, when they will face Walsh in an exhibition game. Six days later they will open the regular season at home against Morgan State.
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