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Gazing into the 2011 crystal ball

Michael Parkman / Lantern photographer

It’s a new year with limitless possibilities. In sports, anything can, and typically will, happen.

My crystal ball is crystal clear. The following sequence of events is bound to happen, giving Buckeye Nation something other than football to cheer about and keeping Cleveland in its never-ending depression.

1. Jared Sullinger will not win the Naismith Award, given to college basketball’s best player.

Averaging 17.9 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, the freshman forward will merit a spot on the All-American team, but the creaky, old voters will reward a more seasoned performer with the top prize. Someone like Duke senior Kyle Singler, averaging 17.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per contest, or junior Kemba Walker, pacing Connecticut with 25.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, will get the nod. It won’t matter to most Buckeye fans, though, because …

2. Ohio State will reach the Final Four.

OSU has so much firepower it won’t arrive in Houston saying, “We have a problem.” Sullinger, William Buford, David Lighty, Jon Diebler and Deshaun Thomas — five of the top 30 scorers in the Big Ten — all average double-digit points per game. The team’s blend of veterans, upperclassmen Lighty, Buford and center Dallas Lauderdale, and youth, freshmen Sullinger, Thomas and Aaron Craft, has worked out better than anyone could have imagined. OSU’s 16-0 record speaks to that. The high from the team’s postseason success will only last so long, because …

3. Sullinger will bolt for the NBA.

How can he not? Evan Turner capitalized on his breakout season last year to become the No. 2 overall pick in June’s draft. Sullinger can maximize his lone season and earn a spot in the top five this summer, getting Clevelanders excited because …

4. The Cleveland Cavaliers will finish the season with the worst record in the NBA.

The Cavs already own the league’s worst record, and that’s before they likely dump their only tradable commodities: Antawn Jamison and Mo Williams, the Cavs’ two best players. A franchise LeBron James left to rot, the Cavs will provide their city new hope with the idea of Sullinger, a native Ohioan, suiting up in wine and gold. The only problem is …

5. Typical Cleveland luck will prevail, and the ping-pong balls won’t bounce the Cavs’ way.

The team that finishes in the NBA basement only has a 25 percent shot at the top pick. The draft lottery is more of a crapshoot than an exact science. The Sacramento Kings finished last in 2009 but only earned the No. 4 pick. The Washington Wizards had the fifth-worst record in 2010 but, despite just a 10.3 percent chance, lucked out with the top choice. Lady Luck hasn’t been much of a friend to Cleveland in the last 50 years — The Fumble, The Drive, choking away the 1997 World Series, losing the NBA’s top player in free agency on national TV. Why would its fortunes reverse now?

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