Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Marquette Golden Eagles (+6.5, 145.5)
Fourth-ranked Ohio State begins the post-Jared Sullinger era Friday when it meets Marquette in the second annual Carrier Classic in Charleston, S.C. The game will be played on the deck of the USS Yorktown, which resides in the Patriots Point complex in Charleston Harbor.
The Buckeyes reached the Final Four last season, but Sullinger decided to forgo his senior year for the NBA draft. No one should shed a tear for coach Thad Matta, however, since Ohio State returns plenty of talent and should once again be a major factor when March rolls around.
The Golden Eagles' roster also took a hit. Jae Crowder, last season's Big East Player of the Year, and All-Big East guard Darius Johnson-Odom have both moved on to the NBA.
While the Buckeyes are expected to contend with Indiana and Michigan in the loaded Big Ten, Marquette has been picked to finish seventh in the Big East.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
WEATHER: The forecast for Charleston, S.C is calling for clear skies and temperatures in the mid 40s Friday night. Winds are expected to blow NNE between 10 and 5 mph.
"Offense could be a problem for both teams," John Avello, sportsbook
director at the Wynn, told Covers about last year's Carrier Classic between UNC and MSU. "Shooters
usually have a difficult time when their backgrounds are changed - it
doesn't matter if we're talking about an NFL stadium or an aircraft
ABOUT OHIO STATE (2011-12: 31-8, 20-14 ATS): In addition to losing Sullinger, one of the best post players in the country, wing player William Buford, who scored 1,990 career points, has also moved on. The two were main cogs on a team that finished in a three-way tie for the Big Ten regular-season title and won the conference tournament.
Power forward Deshaun Thomas and point guard Aaron Craft will carry the Buckeyes this season. Thomas, an explosive player who stands 6 feet 7, has the talent to score 20 points per game and is a difficult matchup for anyone. Craft does an outstanding job in running the offense and is one of the top backcourt defenders in the nation. The Buckeyes have only one senior and Matta will be looking to inexperienced players to fill the holes at center and small forward.
ABOUT MARQUETTE (2011-12: 27-8, 18-13-1 ATS): Fifth-year coach Buzz Williams admits he over-scheduled considering how much talent his team has lost. In addition to Ohio State, the Golden Eagles will play Butler, Florida and Wisconsin and face a possible matchup with North Carolina in the Maui Invitational.
Williams will rely a lot on Trent Lockett, a graduate-student transfer who led Arizona State in scoring and rebounding last season. Lockett, who will be part of a three-guard offense, averaged 13 points and 5.8 rebounds last year. Vander Blue and Junior Cadougan are the other guards, but the Golden Eagles won't be able to replace Johnson-Odom's outside shooting. Williams is expecting big things from forward Jamil Wilson, who averaged 7.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and a team-high 1.4 blocks last season.
* Buckeyes are 4-1 ATS in their last five Friday games.
* Buckeyes are 6-2 ATS in their last eight vs. Big East.
* Golden Eagles are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games overall.
* Golden Eagles are 2-6-1 ATS in their last nine non-conference games.
1. Matta has never lost in 12 season openers when he coached at Butler (1-0), Xavier (3-0) and Ohio State (8-0).
2. Marquette G Todd Mayo, who averaged 7.9 points last season as freshman, is academically ineligible.
3. Ohio State leads the all-time series 5-4, but the teams haven't played since 1994 - an 82-70 win for Marquette.