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Ohio State Buckeyes Prove Youth is Still a Problem in College Basketball

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Try as anyone may, there are pitfalls in relying on freshmen to play consistent winning basketball. Ohio State is feeling that right now. It doesn't help if coaches aren't willing to trust them.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

This is the era of one-and-dones. That's cool and fine; all of the bluster about college basketball play being harmed by it is way overblown, in my opinion. The reality is college basketball's aesthetic has been pretty similar over the past few decades, regardless of NBA eligibility rules.

There are teams that know how to utilize very good freshmen like Kentucky (and Duke, as much as Coach K may protest); Ohio State has been good at it as well, but this year has been a trial even though Ohio State had one of the best recruiting classes in 2015. It's early yet, obviously, but Ohio State has lost to UT Arlington, Virginia, Memphisand Louisiana Tech. Aside from Virginia, they shouldn't have lost to any of those teams. The Buckeyes have looked over matched and discombobulated this season. At the end of the day, though, they shouldn't look this far behind.

Thad Matta's offense isn't terribly complicated and he's proven his ability to assimilate young players to his system. They brought in a lot of talent this offseason, so seeing them struggle so much, even early in the season, should be disconcerting for State fans. So, what's going wrong?

Marc Loving has proven himself to be a stud, averaging 17 points and 6 boards a game thus far. He's the clear leader of the team and will probably fill that role for the rest of the season. That being said, he needs more help from the coaching staff and his younger counterparts for Ohio State to be successful.

One notable issue so far is that freshman Daniel Giddens needs more minutes than he's getting, plain and simple. One of the highest touted Big Ten recruits coming into the season, the power forward is only averaging 22.5 minutes a game. For a guy who has near-unlimited potential and most likely will be leaving for the NBA after this season, that's just not enough. He can help the Buckeyes on the boards and down low, two places they've struggled this year. Giddens is raw so his technique isn't great, but throwing him out there for 30 plus minutes a game during the non-conference schedule should be a point of emphasis for Thad Matta and company. If you, as a program, stack the out of conference schedule in your favor, then you should let your young players run as much as possible.

Giddens is just one example of young guys not being able to play enough, but another problem is that Ohio State is generally playing hero ball with Loving. He's a good player, but D'angelo Russel he is not. Loving can be the best player on a very good team, but he needs help if said team has conference title hopes (or at least wants to remain relevant throughout the season).

He's a boon for a program that lost one of the best players in the country to the NBA last season, but Matta is going to have to trust his incredibly talented array of freshmen more than he has for the team to make some serious noise. If they can't, then he has only himself to blame, because Ohio State's class of 2015 was the closest to the dream team the Big Ten has seen in a while.