Tuesday, November 25, 2008

We interrupt this lengthy break between football games to talk hoops!
Anyone who knows me or who has followed my former web site and now blog knows where my true sports love lies. College basketball. I love the game. Can't get enough of it. I just wish I had the time to devote to my previews for hoops that I do for football. But alas, it's all about timing and with football just slowing down and work busy, there just isn't the time to go as in-depth as I'd prefer.

That said, I did, as always, take the time to study each team, review their schedules, predict the entire Big Ten season, and for that matter, the entire season for each team in the greatest conference around. So, what follows is a snapshot of what I'd love to ramble on and on and on about but don't have the time for.

I expect a great divide between the good and the bad with a little bit of mediocrity sprinkled in between. Not unlike the football side of things, there are just a handful of programs that will vie for a title in basketball. Granted, I did these picks BEFORE the season started, so I may already be in for some flak (Michigan comes to mind) but hey, I just got around to posting this!

Predictions:

T1 - Purdue Boilermakers

OOC Projection: 12-1
Big Ten Projection: 16-2
Big Ten Tourney: Semi-finalist

Postseason: NCAA Tournament - Elite 8
Total Record: 32-5

Comments: This team is flat out loaded and yet still young. The brand of basketball being played under Matt Painter makes Purdue a threat to run all the way to Motown.

T1 - Michigan State Spartans
OOC Projection: 9-3
Big Ten Projection: 16-2
Big Ten Tourney: Champs
Postseason: NCAA Tournament - Elite 8
Total Record: 31-6

Comments: This is as deep as Michigan State has ever been. The key will be the way all the pieces and parts come together. There is youth and experience, speed and talent, size and speed. Can that translate into a dream run to Ford Field and the Final Four?

3 - Wisconsin Badgers
OOC Projection: 9-3
Big Ten Projection: 14-4
Big Ten Tourney: Semi-finalist
Postseason: NCAA Tournament - 2nd Round
Total Record: 25-9

Comments: This team lost some talent, but when don't Bo Ryan teams reload? I fully expect the Badgers to be in the thick of the Big Ten race with eyes on making a deeper advancement in the tournament than has been the norm under Ryan.

4 - Ohio State Buckeyes
OOC Projection: 9-2
Big Ten Projection: 12-6
Big Ten Tourney: Finalist
Postseason: NCAA Tournament - 2nd Round
Total Record: 24-10

Comments: Another contender that has to reload. Ohio State brings in another monster big man with potential and is really young again. This team will be much better in March than it is in November.

5 - Minnesota Golden Gophers
OOC Projection: 11-1
Big Ten Projection: 8-10
Big Ten Tourney: Quarterfinals
Postseason: NIT Final 4
Total Record: 22-12

Comments: Tubby Smith is already starting to work wonders in Minneapolis. The Gophers should make noise and a run at a tourney berth, but will have to settle for a run to MSG instead.

T6 - Penn State Nittany Lions
OOC Projection: 9-4
Big Ten Projection: 7-11
Big Ten Tourney: Quarterfinals
Postseason: NIT Final 4
Total Record: 20-17

Comments: Is this the year that the hard luck Nits finally get it going? Maybe not when it comes to an NCAA bid, but it will settle - gladly - for a nice run to MSG and an NIT Final 4.

T6 - Illinois Fighting Illini
OOC Projection: 13-1
Big Ten Projection: 7-11
Big Ten Tourney: Quarterfinals
Postseason: NIT - 2nd Round
Total Record: 22-13

Comments: I think of the middle-of-the-pack teams that Illinois has the most upside potential. The record might even be good enough for a trip to the Big Dance, but there is not a lot in the way of chances to impress with a so-so OOC slate.

T8 - Michigan Wolverines
OOC Projection: 9-4
Big Ten Projection: 6-12
Big Ten Tourney: 1st Round
Postseason: None
Total Record: 15-16

Comments: Hindsight is 20-20 - right? That makes me think this will be the pick I am most off base on. The win over UCLA was impressive but Michigan just isn't there... not yet. 2009-2010 is the year to watch out for the Wolverines.

T8 - Northwestern Wildcats
OOC Projection: 7-4
Big Ten Projection: 6-12
Big Ten Tourney: Quarterfinals
Postseason: None
Total Record: 14-17

Comments: Another intriguing team. Northwestern has experience and can shoot the long ball. Will this be the breakthrough year Carmody and Co. have been waiting for?

10 - Iowa Hawkeyes
OOC Projection: 8-5
Big Ten Projection: 5-13
Big Ten Tourney: 1st Round
Postseason: None
Total Record: 13-18

Comments: Simply a case of not enough horses in the barn. Iowa may pull off an upset or two but will reside in the basement most of the season.

11 - Indiana Hoosiers
OOC Projection: 7-5
Big Ten Projection: 2-16
Big Ten Tourney: 1st Round
Postseason: None
Total Record: 9-22

Comments: Nope, not a misprint. Indiana is going to really struggle this year. But don't get used to this. Tom Crean will make unbelievable strides with this team and set himself up for a fantastic turnaround in 2009-2010.

All Big Ten Team:
Kalin Lucas- G, Michigan State
Manny Harris - G, Michigan
Raymar Morgan - F, Michigan State
Marcus Landry - F, Wisconsin
Robbie Hummel - F, Purdue

Player of the Year:
Robbie Hummel - F, Purdue

Coach of the Year:
Matt Painter - Purdue

3 comments:

BruceS said...

Pretty good summarization of all the teams, Andy. As much as I love the Spartans, the scouting report for this team will be the same as it has been for many years; get them into a half court game. Remember @ Iowa last year? Purdue's defense will cause MSU all kinds of problems. The Spartans' achilles heel is its half court offense. They get so tentative in the half court sets, afraid to shoot too quickly, or trying too hard to make that one extra pass rather than shoot the open 15 footer, etc. Once they miss a few in a row, they get very anxious and you can almost see the fear in their eyes. We'll quickly see how the younger players react in these types of games. GO GREEN

Andy Gamm said...

Good points Bruce. I caught most of the game tonight on the radio on the way back from T-giving in Ohio. We really missed Suton and Raymar went back to his old, stupid fouls ways. MD was a good wake up call for us. Good thing my record had us losing in this tourney!

Buckeye Nation said...

The Challenge finally lived up to its name, except for our top two teams. OUCH!
Illinois flat-out choked in its home game with Clemson and cost us our first Challenge win.
Kudos to all the teams that won their matchups this year (Wiscy, OSU, Minny, PSU and NU), especially the latter two.

Looks like Indiana will be the only gimme on the Big 10 schedules this season. When was the last time that was the case? Maybe when peach baskets and two-handed set shots were the norm.