TBrown's 2nd Annual Conference Predictions
A year ago the Big Ten was loaded in the West having five of the six teams make the Big Dance and had the Boilermakers reach the Elite Eight and the illini to the Final Four. In the East the Badgers made it back to the dance and the Spartans won the PIT. It was a very successful year for the conference as a whole and provided each team with a nice sum of cash for recruiting. With several teams having a lot of open scholarships and not a ton of talent in the Midwest it made for a difficult recruiting season for everyone. Battles were popping up everywhere and most teams had to settle for lesser talent or take on a few walk-ons. Last year in our region was the year of the Big Men, where there were several solid Big's but a lack of guards except for near the Columbus area, where I wanted to steer clear of and try to avoid any battles. This year the Buckeye state again has a few solid guards but the region as a whole is all Guards and no Big's, making it nice for me having to fill guard spots this season. The only problem right now is all the ones in IL are currently Ineligible, but that's neither here nor there so to the predictions.
1. Michigan- This year in the East there are really three teams that have a chance to take the Conference Crown and to be honest this is just a guess, but I really like the starting 5 for the Wolverines and the addition of Perryman, really helped bolster the Michigan frontcourt. If Goofy can get his team to play together I think they have a chance to take the conference by surprise and find themselves back in the National Tourny.
2. Wisconsin- The Badgers brought in a very good recruiting class with Felix and Wysong and have depth that a lot of teams in the conference just don't have. Cyric will have his boys playing hard and if Quillen can get hot the Badgers could be very dangerous and easily take the East Title. They will have a balanced attack with Mr. Quillen running the point and Mr. Azure down low drawing double teams. It will be a two man show in Madison that will be tough to stop and should once again make the tourny.
3. Michigan State- The Spartans made a promising run to win the PIT last season and will look to carry that momentum over to this season. Netgym addressed the need for the lack of Big's and found a few gems but they will need some time to develop. No doubt his guards can play and if the Spartans can find a way to rebound with the top teams then they could take the crown and make it back to the National Tournament. Netgym's team may have the most talent but with the new rebounding matchups taking place it will be interesting to see how the Spartans will do with only one rebounder in the 80's and the rest 60's or lower.
4. Notre Dame- The Fighting Irish are the lowest rated team in the conference but that's a little deceiving having three walk-ons. They have nine players that can play but the lack of Defense and Rebounding could really cause some matchup problems for Coach Gordon. The team will most likely heavily rely on George Banks the start PG for the Irish. It will be up to him to keep them in games.
5. Minnesota- Mbalding managed to pull out three wins last season which was a step in the right direction. He brought in a very talented class that in a few years could help the Gophers make a postseason tournament. Anyone of the bottom three teams in the East could breakout and take the fourth place finish, but it will be interesting to see the progress of Minnesota as Mbalding continues to resurrect the Gophers, and maybe they shoot for 8-10 wins this season.
6. Iowa- Last but not least the Hawkeyes, they are actually a higher rated team than the Gophers or Irish but with only winning two games last year I put them in the cellar. With that being said Coach Brad could easily have them finish fourth. The team does have balance and has a decent inside and outside attack but until coach Brad can get all of his type of guys into the program the Hawkeyes will continue to hover around the bottom four teams in the conference. With what appears to be a fairly easy out of conference schedule the Hawkeyes have a very good chance at 10 wins this year.
1. Illinois- After reaching the Final Four last year the Illini look poised to make another run. I was very surprised that all three members of the Big Three returned. The Illini have the deepest team in the conference as well as the highest rated team, it will be interesting to see how the youngsters mesh with the upperclassmen. Four of the five starters return from a season ago and Coach Brown hopes that the talented freshman can quickly learn the Flex and Zone Defenses to help make solid contributions in their rookie seasons. It will be up to the four seniors to decide how far this team goes and Captain Casey Denney wants to make it a memorable year in Champaign.
2. Indiana- The Hoosiers have a stud in Stanley Madewell, he is the heart and soul of the team. On any given night he has the ability to go for 35 the Hoosiers are a scary team. To go along with Madewell, Mr. Bush patrols the inside and is a beast. The Hoosiers had to get another post in the offseason and landed a really good one in Mooring, he will most likely start from day one. If the Hoosiers can rebound and get the ball to their playmakers they have a chance to make another run to the National Tourny.
3. Penn State- The Nittany Lions and Coach Goodyr have another solid team. One that is led by their two guards Gorrel and Lema, the tandem can really fill it up from deep. The lions have several solid shooters and when they get hot can be a real threat. The two big boys inside will most likely be Flood and Carter who are both Soph looking to make an impact. The team has the talent to make it back the tourny and will look to fair better than last year at the Big Dance.
4. Ohio State- The Buckeyes are going to be led by Roosevelt Rodger who was my pick last year for Player of the Year. He didn't have a bad year but not quite what I was expecting, if CPkung can get him to look to score more, he could be very dangerous. The team was able to bring in a stud in Haust but had to battle UNC to get him, which may have cost him a few other recruits. The Buckeyes have talent but not a lot of depth in the front court, so they will need to stay out of foul trouble and rely heavily on their experienced guard play. I think the Bucks have an outside shot at the National Tourny, it will be interesting to see how Cp does in his rookie season.
5. Purdue- I once again have the Boilermakers in the fifth spot, and it will be up to Mcauley to once again prove me wrong. Last year was an unbelievable run and one that I did not see coming but it as awesome for the conference. Depth could be the main issue with the Boilermakers as they have four walk-ons. They have seven players that can really play but I don't know if seven is enough. So Mcauley will most definitely be playing his slow down ball and with that the scores will be low giving them a chance. Swan the freshman small forward looks to be a stud and a player that he can rely on this year and in the future. I will say they have a chance at the PIT and anything more than that is a great job of coaching by Mcauley.
6. Northwestern- The Wildacts are terrible, what a fall they have taken from their improbable Final Four run a few years ago. They are a glorified Division two team now, and until another coach comes in and takes over they will continue to fall and be the laughing stock of the conference and a team that is an RPI killer.
Well these are my predictions and even though last year they were pretty accurate outside the Boilermakers making that run, this year may be really off because of the parity in the conference. Picking both sides was very difficult and a few teams were simply toss ups but it looks to be another fun year in the Big Ten, so good luck to everyone in OOC play and lets bring home a lot of cash come tourny time.