From Eleven Warriors to you and your family, Happy New Year!
The 2017 season featured a number of athletic accomplishments across Ohio State athletics, and with the calendar turning over another page, there are plenty of opportunities for more athletic accomplishments for Buckeyes everywhere.
As we look ahead to 2018, we make five bold predictions across the Ohio State sports landscape. that may or may not have a chance at coming true this year.
Dwayne Haskins Wins Job, Leaves For NFL
So stick with me, as this prediction carries into 2019.
Dwayne Haskins is the early favorite to win the starting quarterback job next year, though the belief is he will have to win the job in the spring and battle it out with Joe Burrow and Tate Martell. I am of the belief that Haskins will not only win the job, but that he will play so well that he will declare for the 2019 NFL Draft.
Haskins' arm and size make him an immediate threat to go to the NFL and with a successful season, I think Haskins could be a high-round draft selection in the 2019 cycle. That said, Haskins will need Ohio State's offensive line to pick up the pieces of a group that sees its left tackle and center lost to eligibility.
Ohio State Men's Basketball Makes NCAA Tournament
This might be the most bold prediction in this set, but after going 11-4 in the first 15 games under first-year coach Chris Holtmann, I am of the belief that this Ohio State basketball team is capable of making the Big Dance.
After a tough showing in the PK80 Invitational, Ohio State has shown constant improvement and a 2-0 start in conference play is something that could propel them into the full-time conference slate. With a down year in the Big Ten, the Buckeyes will likely have to finish in the top-six of the conference in order to make the tournament. If Keita Bates-Diop and Jae'Sean Tate continue to lead the team both on and off the court, this is a team with just enough talent to pull off an upset or two in the Big Ten and slide into the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
Ohio State Women Make 2018 Final Four
Kevin McGuff's squad has the talent to make the Final Four, but depth is a serious concern with the Buckeyes. However, when you have arguably the best player in the country on your roster, making a run in the NCAA Tournament is never out of the questions and Kelsey Mitchell has been a top-five player in the country since stepping on campus as a freshman.
Mitchell will need some help, though, if the Buckeyes are to play in the Final Four, which is set to be hosted down the street at Nationwide Arena. Sierra Calhoun and Stephanie Mavunga will have to be at their best as well, and Ohio State will also need to stay healthy. One more injury to its lineup and a Sweet 16 appearance could be out of the question. All of this said, I have a feeling this could be the year McGuff's squad gets over the hump and makes a deep run in the tournament.
Kyle Snyder, Ohio State Win Wrestling National Titles
Penn State raised the bar with its runaway victory at the 2017 NCAA Tournament in St. Louis, besting the runner-up Buckeyes by 36.5 points. Upsetting the defending champs – who return five reigning individual champions – won’t be easy.
And yet, with the very real possibility of four or five individual titles at the 2018 Tournament – in Cleveland, no less – Ohio State finds itself ahead of the Nittany Lions in each of the four major national tournament rankings.
To get the job done, head coach Tom Ryan will need not only all-world heavyweight Kyle Snyder to finish atop the podium, but also former NCAA champions Nathan Tomasello (125 lbs.) and Myles Martin (184 lbs.), along with current No. 1 Kollin Moore (197 lbs.) and one of No. 3 Luke Pletcher (133 lbs.) or Bo Jordan (174 lbs.).
Ryan is counting on Snyder, Jordan and Tomasello to earn their fourth All-American finish, making this team the first in history to field three four-time All-Americans on the same roster. It’s a reasonable bet that all 10 Buckeye starters finish as All-Americans, which will go a long way toward securing that second national title come March. – Andy Vance
Ohio State Dismisses Baseball Coach Greg Beals
The Buckeye baseball team struggled mightily in 2017, and another season like last year could result in 2018 being the final year of the Greg Beals era in Columbus.
A late run in the Big Ten Tournament that resulted in a conference title and a NCAA tournament appearance in 2015-16 bought Beals some time as the head coach at Ohio State, but after going 22-34 last year, patience is likely running thin within the program.
Should Ohio State get off to a slow start in 2018, Beals might not survive the season, and Gene Smith will be tasked with finding a new candidate to lead the baseball Buckeyes.