Monday, November 30, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year ... Basketball Time!

Editor's Note: I started this before the Big Ten / ACC Challenge was done. YEESSS! Finally a hard earned victory in the contest for the good guys. Hat's off to Illinois and Wisconsin who made it possible! Get Gamm Hoops style standings are up. We'll start again in late December. If you missed the first week, jump in, you're not too far behind!

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 conference. 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 the Big Ten to be among the best and brightest this season - particularly when it matters most - March. Yes, we're coming off a rough couple of holiday tournament showings, but look at Michigan State as an example. Last out of state, preseason holiday tournament title? 1998. Final fours in that time? Five. You can take the November wins. I'll settle for March/April victories any time...

T1 - Michigan State Spartans
OOC Projection: 11-2
Big Ten Projection: 15-3
Big Ten Tourney: Runner Up
Postseason: NCAA Tournament - National Runner Up
Total Record: 33-7

Comments: Despite the loss of a leader like Travis Walton and an unsung do-it-all big man in Goran Suton, this might wind up being a better Spartans team. Yes, better. How? Savvy guards. A healthy Delvon Roe. Draymond Green is an absolute gem. If Raymar Morgan stays healthy and the big man trio of Nix, Sherman and Herzog can provide ample minutes, look out.

T1 - Purdue Boilermakers
OOC Projection: 12-0
Big Ten Projection: 15-3
Big Ten Tourney: Champs

Postseason: NCAA Tournament - Final Four
Total Record: 34-4

Comments: This team is flat out loaded and healthy after a rough bout with injuries a season ago. Don't discount the "MSU factor" here either. That is, watch for the location of the Final Four (Indy) to play a big role in the motivation for this team. Purdue will come up just short in the conference, but win the conference tournament and give the league two in the Final Four.

3 - Minnesota Golden Gophers
OOC Projection: 8-4
Big Ten Projection: 12-6
Big Ten Tourney: Quarterfinals
Postseason: Sweet 16
Total Record: 22-12

Comments: I like what Tubby is doing in Minny. Some rough patches early in the season will strengthen this team for the time of the year that matters - Big Ten time.

4 - Wisconsin Badgers
OOC Projection: 11-1
Big Ten Projection: 11-7
Big Ten Tourney: Semi-finalist
Postseason: NCAA Tournament - Sweet 16
Total Record: 25-10

Comments: This team just finds a way. The win over Duke was maybe the most impressive in UW history. The Badgers will go as Hughes goes. The front court is big, white and mean as usual!

T5 - Ohio State Buckeyes
OOC Projection: 10-3
Big Ten Projection: 10-8
Big Ten Tourney: Quarterfinals
Postseason: NCAA Tournament - 2nd Round
Total Record: 21-13

Comments: I like what I see out of this team already. Not as much inside height, but good length and Evan Turner is a beast. The question is, when teams bottle him up, does OSU have enough horses to make a strong push for the league title? I like him, but not at the point where OSU seems to become a bit too reliant on him and only him.
This year is a stepping stone to 2010-2011 which could be magical.

T5 - Penn State Nittany Lions
OOC Projection: 8-4
Big Ten Projection: 10-8
Big Ten Tourney: Semifinals
Postseason: NCAA First Round
Total Record: 20-14

Comments: Is this the year that the hard luck Nits finally get it going? PSU will ride last year's NIT title to some big wins and slide in as a "last four in" to the dance.

T7 - Illinois Fighting Illini
OOC Projection: 10-3
Big Ten Projection: 8-10
Big Ten Tourney: Loss in Quarters
Postseason: NIT Champs
Total Record: 24-14

Comments: Illinois will be better than a season ago, but how much better? I already had to adjust my OOC projection by two games given the start to the season. This team has the potential because it plays nasty defense. But it has to learn how to consistently win away from the Orange Krush. I think it is a year away but follows in Penn State's footsteps...

T7- Northwestern Wildcats
OOC Projection: 10-3
Big Ten Projection: 8-10
Big Ten Tourney: 1st Round ouster
Postseason: NIT Elite 8
Total Record: 20-15

Comments: Another intriguing team. I had this team left for dead after losing its two best players right before the season started. So did everyone else. This team is playing well and will make a push for the first NCAA berth in school history.

9 - Michigan Wolverines
OOC Projection: 7-5
Big Ten Projection: 7-11
Big Ten Tourney: 1st Round
Postseason: None
Total Record: 15-17

Comments: Maybe last year was a flash in the pan. I am already seeing a lot of "me ball" from Manny Harris. Not good for a team with a ton of promise otherwise.

10 - Indiana Hoosiers
OOC Projection: 6-6
Big Ten Projection: 4-14
Big Ten Tourney: 1st Round
Postseason: None
Total Record: 10-21

Comments: IU will continue to have growing pains but is moving in the right direction. How patient will Hoosiers fans be? That remains to be seen.

11 - Iowa Hawkeyes
OOC Projection: 5-8
Big Ten Projection: 2-16
Big Ten Tourney: 1st Round
Postseason: None
Total Record: 7-25

Comments: Simply a case of not enough horses in the barn. Iowa doesn't really even have enough to warrant a few upset picks, though any win by the Hawkeyes this year might well be an upset. Too much turnover from year to year. Time to find a core group and build around it, in hopes it will stay in tact.

All Big Ten Team:
Kalin Lucas- G, Michigan State
Michael Thompson - G, Northwestern
Raymar Morgan - F, Michigan State
Talor Battle - G, Penn State
Robbie Hummel - F, Purdue

Player of the Year:
Robbie Hummel - F, Purdue

Coach of the Year:
Bill Carmody - Northwestern


Buckeye Nation said...

No Evan Turner on first team all-conference, especially after winning Big 10 P-O-Week 3 weeks in-a-row?

As Bo Ryan said at last year's Big 10 Tournament: "Evan's the best player in the conference."

Buckeyes FIFTH behind Minnesota and Wiscy?

Last year's Buckeyes went down to Miami and won, while this year's Gophers gagged down there.

Watch closely and you will be surprised.

Andy Gamm said...

I like Turner, no doubt. But I don't like that he's the apparent make or break. One guy is way too easy to shut down in this conference. OSU could surprise, and no doubt, Turner is among the best, BUT he won't be first team since everyone will gear up to stop him.

Buckeye Nation said...

What a difference 24 hours makes.
a devastating blow for the Buckeyes losing ET for 8 weeks.
We shall soon see whether OSU can be more than just Evan Turner as you believe we are.
I don't think we are a one-trick pony, like Michigan.
2nd year-in-a-row that the Buckeyes have lost a starter in december to a fracture.

Andy Gamm said...

Just to be clear. I never said OSU had no one but Turner. I just said they had too much relying on him. Moving him to PG scared me a little.

I hope he heals quickly. He's an outstanding player and the Big Ten is better with him.

Buckeye Nation said...

Really, Matta had no choice but to play Turner at PG. We tried Simmons there last year, didn't work, and it adversely affected his scoring ability. PJ Hill brings a lot of energy and spirit, but gets schooled when matched up against talented big PGs.
What killed our recruiting was 2-fold: Conley jumping to the NBA (everyone thought he was a 3 year player here at least) and the bust-recruit, Noopy Crater, who quit OSU, and is now in big trouble at his new school.
The future for PG is already secure for OSU in the future: Aaron Craft next season comes in with the stellar recruit class, and Shannon Scott the season after that.
Buckeye fans are going through the stages of grief right now for this season.
Matta will have to roll the dice and play a lot of the bench until ET comes back, and hope that Andy's 5th place prediction is where we are when Evan hopefully comes back.