Ohio State center Dallas Lauderdale led the Big Ten in blocked shots as a sophomore and junior, and was fifth in the league this season. He also shot 73.3 percent as a senior, which slightly lowered his career field goal accuracy to 73.5 percent.
I tell you that to tell you this: Dallas Lauderdale is Ohio State's seventh-best player.
Now do you see why I wrote this the other day, proclaiming the Buckeyes to be worthy not just of a No. 1 seed ... but of the national championship?
Why they'll win it: The Buckeyes are the most complete team in the country. They rebound (plus-5.4 per game), defend (59.7 ppg allowed), take care of the ball (503 assists, just 323 turnovers), shoot from 3-point range (41.9 percent as a team) and have seven players capable of starting on any team in the country, including this one.
|If the Buckeyes advance deep into the tournament, Jared Sullinger will be a big reason why. (Getty Images)|
Players to watch: Freshman power forward Jared Sullinger is an All-American and possibly the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Shooting guard Jon Diebler is hitting 51.1 percent from three-point range and has a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Combo guard William Buford is a future pro. So is wing David Lighty.
Best off the bench: Freshman point guard Aaron Craft leads the Big Ten in steals, is sixth in assists and shoots 38.3 percent from 3-point range. Another freshman, small forward Deshaun Thomas, leads the teams in points-per-minute at 8 ppg in 14 minutes.
Soaring/slumping: Diebler is both. Yeah, he made 17 of his final 20 3-pointers (85 percent!) to close the regular season. But in Ohio State's finale against Wisconsin, when the Buckeyes were 14 for 15 from 3-point range -- that's right, 14 for 15 -- guess who missed? Diebler. He was 7 for 8 that day, and afterward he apologized to his team for being the lone miss. True story.
Notable stat: Lighty is only the third player in team history with more than 1,000 points (he entered the Big Ten tournament with 1,393), 500 rebounds (556) and 300 assists (356). Add his 189 steals, and he stands alone with that quartet of stats.
Last time as a No. 1 seed: It was 2007, when the Buckeyes went all the way to the title game before Greg Oden, Michael Conley and Co. fell 84-75 to defending national champion Florida.
Last time won a national championship: It was 1960, and the Buckeyes were led by future Hall of Famer John Havlicek and perhaps the greatest player in Big Ten history, Jerry Lucas, a three-time All-American who had 1,990 points and 1,411 rebounds in only three seasons. Also on that team: reserve forward Bob Knight.
All-time starting five: G John Havlicek, G Evan Turner, F Jerry Lucas, F Herb Williams, C Gary Bradds.
Final thought: Any idea how strong this football school's basketball tradition is? Greg Oden didn't make the previous starting five at center. Jimmy Jackson, Scoonie Penn and Michael Conley didn't make it at guard. Clark Kellogg, Dennis Hopson and Jared Sullinger aren't at forward.