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Unique Opener For OSU Basketball

Ohio State, ranked fourth in the preseason AP and USA Today coaches polls, will open the 2012-13 men’s basketball season with a special game against Marquette Friday night on the deck of the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier in Charleston, S.C.

matta 11 7 12 mpg

The game is part of a doubleheader dubbed as the Carrier Classic. The OSU women’s basketball team will face national powerhouse Notre Dame as well. That game will tip at 4 p.m. with the men’s game at 7 p.m. Both games will be televised by the NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus).

This year’s Carrier Classic will again benefit the Navy‐Marine Corps Relief Society and The Wounded Warrior Project, and aids The Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

The Patriots Point facility with 367 acres of park and camping is home to the iconic USS Yorktown, which will be transformed into a unique 4,000‐seat sports arena utilizing the designs created for the first Carrier Classic held in San Diego on board the USS Carl Vinson in 2011. Michigan State played North Carolina in that game last year. The Carrier Classic is produced by Morale Entertainment Foundation.

Built in an amazing 16‐1/2 months at Newport News, Va., the USS Yorktown was commissioned on April 15, 1943, and participated significantly in the Pacific Offensive that began in late 1943 and ended with the defeat of Japan in 1945. The Yorktown received the Presidential Unit Citation and earned 11 battle stars for service in World War II.

Above we have comments from OSU coach Thad Matta on playing in this unique setting, what he expects to see out of Marquette and how his own lineup may look like. Below we have comments from OSU standouts Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas.

Here is our What To Watch preview:

Opponent: Marquette

* Where: USS Yorktown aircraft carrier (capacity: 4,000); Charleston, S.C.

players 11 7 12 mpg

* Date, Time: Friday, 7 p.m. Eastern

* TV: NBC Sports Network (announcers: Dave Strader, Donny Marshall and Lewis Johnson)

* 2011-12 Records: Ohio State, 31-8 overall, 13-5 Big Ten (tied for first), lost to Kansas in NCAA national semifinal; Marquette, 27-8 overall, 14-4 Big East (second), lost to Florida in NCAA Sweet 16.

* Key Players (2011-12 Stats): Ohio State – F Deshaun Thomas, 6-7, jr., 15.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg; G Aaron Craft, 6-2, jr., 8.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 4.6 apg; G Lenzelle Smith Jr., 6-4, jr., 6.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg; F LaQuinton Ross, 6-8, so., 2.0 ppg; C Amir Williams, 6-11, so., 1.7 ppg, 2.1 rpg; F-C Evan Ravenel, 6-8, sr., 3.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg; F Sam Thompson, 6-7, so., 2.1 ppg. Marquette – F Davante Gardner, 6-8, jr., 9.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg; G Junior Cadougan, 6-1, sr., 6.3 ppg, 5.4 apg; G Vander Blue, 6-4, jr., 8.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.6 apg; G Trent Lockett, 6-5, sr., transfer from Arizona State (13.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg there last year); F Jamil Wilson, 6-7, jr., 7.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg; C Chris Otule, 6-11, sr., 5.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg; G Jake Thomas, 6-3, jr., transfer from South Dakota.

* Quality Of Opponent: Marquette could be dangerous. The Golden Eagles return three starters from last year’s squad in Blue, Cadougan and Wilson. They lost two standouts, though, in departed seniors Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom. They combined to average 35.8 points and 11.9 rebounds a game last year. (Of course, OSU will be without two of its big guns from a year ago in departed senior William Buford and early NBA draft entrant Jared Sullinger. They combined to average 32.0 ppg and 14.2 rpg last year.)

Marquette will also be without sophomore guard Todd Mayo (7.9 ppg last year) as he was declared academically ineligible. But the Golden Eagles are hoping that 6-11, 265-pound center Chris Otule can remain healthy. He only played in eight games last year due to a knee injury.

After finishing second in the Big East last year, Marquette was picked seventh in the conference preseason poll. MU coach Buzz Williams is one of the rising names in the profession and has led Marquette to back-to-back NCAA Sweet 16 appearances and four straight 20-win seasons.

* OSU-Marquette Series: Ohio State owns a slim 5‐4 advantage in the all‐time series, which dates back to the 1933‐34 campaign.

Deshaun Thomas was named a preseason All-American

The Golden Eagles have claimed three of the last four outings with the Buckeyes, most recently posting an 82‐70 win on the road on November 30, 1994. Guard Anthony Pieper led the way with 22 points and forward Roney Eford chipped in 18 points and 10 rebounds. OSU was led by Rick Yudt’s 23 points.

Ohio State last won in a neutral site meeting during the 1970 NCAA Tournament in Athens, Ga. The Buckeyes, ranked No. 10 nationally, topped the No. 2 ranked Golden Eagles 60-59 in the NCAA Mideast Regional. That game also marked the only time either of the teams were ranked in the series. It also featured a pair of legendary head coaches in Fred Taylor for OSU and Al McGuire for Marquette.

* Fun Facts: The Buckeyes are 87-22 in season openers all-time. OSU has won eight straight season openers and 18 of its last 22 season openers dating to the 1990-91 season. In that span, OSU lost season openers to Ohio U. in 1994, South Florida in 1996, Notre Dame in 1999 and San Francisco in 2003 … OSU coach Thad Matta is 8-0 in season openers at Ohio State. Matta has also won all 12 of his season openers as a college head coach … The game date vs. Marquette is tied for the second earliest start to a men's basketball season in OSU history. The Buckeyes opened the 2004-05 season, Matta's first in Columbus, on Nov. 5 with a 74-53 win over Towson at Value City Arena … Ohio State owns a record of 63-41 all-time against teams currently in the Big East Conference. The Buckeyes could take on another Big East opponent
(Seton Hall) Nov. 18 as part of the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off event in Uncasville, Conn. … Matta is 9-2 all-time vs. Big East teams over his career, with the last two wins of the 2011-12 season coming against Big East foes in the 2012 NCAA East Regional in Boston. The Buckeyes
defeated Cincinnati 81-66 March 22 and then Syracuse in the regional finals 77-70 March 24 … While OSU is ranked fourth nationally in the two major polls, the Buckeyes were picked third in the Big Ten preseason poll behind Indiana and Michigan. Juniors Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas also were selected as first team all-conference selections at the annual league media day. Thomas was also a preseason All-American pick by The Sporting News and the Associated Press … Under Matta, OSU is 108-20 in nonconference games, 182-21 against unranked teams and 39-5 in November games.

* Match-Up To Watch: OSU point guard Aaron Craft against Marquette point guard Junior Cadougan. When you think about some of the point guards Cadougan has faced in the Big East, you know he is battle tested. He has played in 82 career games with 38 starts. These two will be going head to head all night. OSU will be counting on Craft to add some scoring punch and you know he will have Cadougan in his hip pocket (and vice versa) all night.

It will also be interesting to see how OSU matches up with the Arizona State transfer, Trent Lockett. He is a three-point threat and OSU’s three-point defense was somewhat suspect in the exhibition against Walsh.

* What’s At Stake: A chance to open the new season the right way and to gain a win over a quality Big East opponent. OSU can win this first game and probably start the downhill roll toward the Nov. 28 game against Duke.

* What They’re Saying: Matta on the mission behind this game: “Throughout the course of the summer, I was like, ‘Why did I sign up for this?’ I went to the luncheon and they talked about the people who were going to be at the game. It brought home to me what this game is all about. College basketball is a billion dollar industry, but this game has a lot more meaning to it. You realize this country is at war. There are men and women fighting for our freedom. I hope this heightens our guys’ awareness of what the real world is about as well as an everlasting memory they can take with them.”

Matta on who will start between Ross and Thompson on the wing: “With two days left to go, I don’t know for sure who we’re going to start. Sam has vastly improved his offensive skills. We know he has the athleticism and the defense. LaQuinton, along the same lines, has improved his defensive awareness. We’ve seen him doing things he hasn’t done in the past defensively. Q can definitely put the ball in the basket, which is advantageous.

“This could be a team where we start 20 different starting lineups. That’s kind of irrelevant to me. I want to make sure we put a team out there that has a chance to get off to as good a start as we possibly can.”

Matta on the similarities between OSU and Marquette: “We are very similar. They have the big kid who only played eight games last year. We’ve had to draw from last year’s team and, like us, they lost two very good players. We’re assuming they will play like they have in the past. They are very athletic and try to make the game as fast as they possibly can.”

Thomas on the military aspect of this game: “It means a lot to me and for our team to be invited to play in front of the military. That’s what it’s all about. The stuff they do for us over there and doing what they have to do, it’s just a motivation for us to go out there and play our best. We want to have fun for them.”

Craft on whether he is more excited to play outside on an aircraft carrier or to open the new season: “It is definitely a little bit of both. It’s a great experience to have with this group of guys. Some of them don’t have a lot of experience. For us to have a big game for the first one is something for them to remember. But it is also the start of our season. There are no more tryouts or any more second chances. We want to enjoy it as much as we can. But when it comes down to it, it is a business trip.”

* Weather Forecast: Yes, for the program’s first-ever outdoor game, we must have the weather forecast. According to weather.com, the high temperature in Charleston on Friday is 68 degrees with zero percent chance of precipitation. The temperature as the sun goes down figures to drop into the high 50s.

* About NBC Sports Network: NBC Sports Network was known as Versus from 2006 through 2011. It was rebranded as NBC Sports Network this past January. Check your channel lineup to find it.

It appears to be available on Ch. 159 on Dish Network, Ch. 220 on DirecTV and Ch. 643 on AT&T U-Verse. Time Warner cable subscribers in central Ohio should find it on Ch. 59 (standard definition) and Ch. 1323 (high definition).

* Next On The Docket: The Buckeyes turn right around and will host Albany at 2 p.m. Sunday at Value City Arena. That game will be webcast on BTN.com.

* Regarding The Women’s Game: The Ohio State women’s team will open the season against Notre Dame in the first game of this doubleheader. The Buckeyes are ranked 19th in the preseason AP women’s poll, while Notre Dame is seventh.

After going 25-6 with the youngest team in the Big Ten last season, the OSU women’s basketball team will welcome a nice mixture of experience and youth on its 2012-13
roster as Ohio State looks to win its seventh Big Ten title in nine years advance to its 11th consecutive NCAA tournament under 11th-year head coach Jim Foster.

Top returnees include guards Tayler Hill (20.4 ppg) and Amber Stokes (7.5 ppg) and center Ashley Adams (7.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg). The Buckeyes also welcome in freshman guard Cait Craft, the younger sister of Aaron Craft.

Notre Dame was 30-3 and lost to Baylor in the national title game. Key returnees include guard Skylar Diggins (16.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 5.7 apg) and forward Kayla McBride (11.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg).

Also Check Out

Stay tuned for our Big Ten basketball preview within the next day or so. Here are a couple of OSU basketball items from this week (and we will have complete coverage of the Carrier Classic from Charleston on Friday):

Caryer: Three Swing Men For 2012-13

ESPN Experts Handicap Big Ten Race

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