Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

An ode to Verne Lundquist’s calls and everything college basketball

Posts Tagged ‘Michigan Wolverines’

Weekend Roundup: 12/6 & 12/7

Posted by Tommy on December 8, 2008

Saturday, 12/6: Saturday’s slate was highlighted by a couple Top 10 teams getting toppled by unranked opponents. The first upset came from the Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor, where the Wolverines avenged their loss to Duke in the 2K Sports Classic. Michigan picked up their second win against a Top 5 team behind a career-high 28 points from DeShawn Sims. The Blue Devils shot 7-33 from deep, which wasn’t enough to shoot the Wolverines out of their 1-3-1 zone. Outside of Sims’ 28, Manny Harris provided 17 and Zack Novak had 14 off the bench. For the Dukies, this loss shows that they can’t rely on the three as much as they have been if they want to make it to the Final Four. Singler was 1-9 from deep and Paulus and Elliot Williams were a combined 0-7 from the field.

The second upset came from another Big 10 team. Ohio State’s Evan Turner led the 5-0 Buckeyes in five categories with 28 of OSU’s 67 points, 10 boards, 5 assists, 2 steals and 40 minutes. Despite the return of Harangody’s presence in the paint, Turner drove to the hoop time and time again, testing the big men of Notre Dame and scoring at will. Harangody had a great first game back on the offensive end with 25 points to go along with 16 boards. Kyle McAlarney came back down to earth after going 3-11 from the field and 0-6 from deep. B.J. Mullens cracked the double digit mark with 11 points in 18 minutes of play. Thad Matta had his team playing great defense and shutdown everybody but Harangody and Tory Jackson. The Irish shot 38.1% from the field and 53.8% from the stripe, not encouraging stats for a team that usually doesn’t shoot itself in the foot.

Staying in the midwest, Wisconsin was also looking for a resume quality win against Marquette. The Badgers pulled out to a 6 point halftime lead, but saw it vanish in the last 6 minutes of the game. Jerel McNeal carried the Golden Eagles with 19 of his 26 points in the second half. McNeal was 10-18 from the field and 4-7 from deep, including the go-ahead three with 5:26 to go.  Both teams struggled shooting the ball from deep and from the free throw line. The win over Wisconsin was a huge one for Marquette, who needed a pick up after their loss to Dayton.

Other Notes:

  • Stephen Curry does it again. His 44 points lifted Davidson over NC State.
  • Big East darkhorse Cincinati, led by Mike Williams, picked up a nice win over UAB.
  • Boston College took down UMass despite 35 from Ricky Harris
  • Baylor continues to impress as they took down Washington St despite the difference in style of play.

Top 25 in Action:

  • #3 Pittsburgh’s Sam Young stays hot with his 28 point performance in Pitt’s 80-51 rout of Vermont.
  • #5 Gonzaga took care of Indiana 70-54 in Indianapolis, Heyvelt led the Zags with 17.
  • #10 Purdue forced 35 turnovers in their 90-42 win over winless Arkansas Pine-Bluff.
  • #11 Louisville jumped out to a 50-17 halftime lead in their win over Indiana State.
  • #17 Wake Forest stays undefeated after crushing Buknell 81-52, Teague had 26.
  • #18 Georgetown dismantled American 73-49. Wright led all scorers with 22.
  • #22 Miami withstands a late comeback vs. Kentucky and holds on to win 73-67.
  • #24 Davidson beat NC State 72-67 thanks to Curry’s second 44 point performance of the year.
  • #25 Kansas scored 50 points in the second half of their 86-62 win over Jackson State.

NW Wins Horse Trailer Player of the Day: DeShawn Sims, Michigan

Sunday, 12/7: Sunday had nowhere near the action Saturday provided, but another Top 25 team went down. Florida State took down the #21 Florida Gators at home despite shooting just 31% from the field. The Seminoles’ leading scorer Toney Douglas was limited to just two points and was 1-9 from the field. It’s tough to win games when your leading scorer was completely shut down and your team shoots 31 percent, but Leonard Hamilton had his squad playing great defense. The ‘Noles forced Florida into 16 turnovers. Role players like Ryan Reid, Solomon Alabai and Jordan DeMercy stepped up for FSU in Toney Douglas’ absence from the scoring column. This is a big win for Leonard Hamilton, who’s been on the hot seat for some time now.

In the Big 12/Pac 10 Hardwood Classic, Oregon improved their record to 4-4 with a 75-70 win over Kansas State. Tajuan Porter was locked in, shooting 8-13 from the field and 6-9 from deep. The Ducks, who shot 48% from the field, got nice contributions from guards LeKendric Longmire and Garrett Sim. Kansas State outscored Oregon 39-10 from the bench and out-rebounded the Ducks 34-24 but allowed Oregon to shoot 31 free throws, 22 of which were made.

Liberty gave the Clemson Tigers all they could handle at Littlejohn Coliseum. The Flames, led by Seth Curry’s 24 points, had a 7 point halftime lead on the road but K.C. Rivers proved to be too much for Liberty to handle. Rivers had 32 points, 11 boards and a pair of steals. His nine points in the final 2 and a half minutes put the Tigers over the top after trailing a large portion of the game. Both teams shot right around 50% from the field and were 80% from the line, but Clemson had five more rebounds, eight more assists and 6 less turnovers than the Flames, crucial stats in a close game like this. I know people like to say there isn’t such thing a good loss, but this game shows that Liberty is a contender to win the Big South.

Other Notes:

  • Indiana State picked up their first win against Lamar, who was 6-1 going into the matchup.
  • Virginia Tech overcomes a six point halftime deficit to Navy in their 79-70 win in the BB&T Classic.
  • Maryland’s Landon Milbourne scored a career-high 20 points in the Terps’ 76-53 win over George Washington.

Top 25 in Action:

  • #6 Oklahoma rolls over Tulsa 69-44 thanks to a 43-19 halftime lead.
  • #9 UCLA shot 58% from the field in their 85-67 win of Cal State Northridge.
  • #11 Louisville’s Earl Clark had 17/14/8 in their 91-56 win over Ohio.
  • #12 Michigan State was 9-19 from deep in their 75-59 win against Bradley.
  • #19 Arizona State handled Nebraska 64-44, Harden had 20/9/6.

NW Wins Horse Trailer Player of the Day: K.C. Rivers, Clemson

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November 21: The Day After

Posted by Zach on November 21, 2008

Michigan UCLA Basketball

Michigan coach John Beilein finally got his signature victory. Upsetting #4 UCLA at Madison Square Garden is a win that could directly alter a program- a win that encourages disappointing Michigan fans to start caring about hoops again, a win that brings back memories of the Steve Fisher glory days, a win that top-flight Detroit recruits will remember when considering the University of Michigan. A floundering program that muddled in mediocrity for the entire Tommy Amaker era finally got its savior in John Beilein, its superstar in Manny Harris, and a signature win to tout.

How did Michigan topple the Bruins? Most will point first to the 1-3-1 zone defense Michigan used for most of the night, befuddling UCLA and taking All-American point guard Darren Collison completely out of his game. To effectively score against a 1-3-1 like the one Beilein employs, the offense must be able to find seams in the defense, something Collison and Holiday struggled mightily with last night. It often seemed as if Michigan had seven players on the court on defense, always swarming the UCLA guard with the ball immediately and preventing them from kicking it out to an open shooter like Dragovic or Shipp. Another way to defeat a zone is feed the ball quickly to a scoring big man who can manuever in the post and finish. With the loss of Kevin Love and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, the Bruins simply lack that type of player. None of the freshmen have emerged yet, and Aboya/Keefe will not place scoring ability at the top of their resume.

The energy and execution of the Wolverines last night was sensational. You saw it when DeShawn Sims finished a dynamite backdoor cut to ice the game under a minute. You saw it when Michigan’s Mike Gansey, freshman guard Stu Douglass, drained a quick catch-and-shoot three in the face of the UCLA defense. You saw the development of Manny Harris, a tremendous scorer who couldn’t escape defensive stud Jrue Holiday (the perfect Ben Howland player) instead find open teammates rather than force off-balance shots down the stretch. Michigan was all about three things last night: 1-3-1 zone, quality possessions and forcing turnovers. UCLA turned the ball over 17 times.

Now the Wolverines have another opportunity to play Cinderella when they face Duke in the championship game tonight in a much more difficult matchup, especially if Gerald Henderson plays with as much fire as he did in the second half of the Southern Illinois game. It may be too much to ask for this young Michigan squad to topple the Blue Devils, but they’ve certainly made quite an impact already. We could look back in January and laugh that UCLA was ever #4 in the nation. It’s possible. But for now, beware Big Ten. The Wolverines are back.

The Other Semi: I remarked to Pat midway through the first half of the Duke-Southern Illinois game last night that Gerald Henderson’s been the type of player who has failed to fully harness his talent in his Duke career, possibly associated with a lack of desire. Henderson managed just 9 PPG in three contests vs. Presbyterian, Georgia Southern and Rhode Island at home and went to the foul line just nine times in those games. Maybe he heard me. Henderson made five shots- including four from behind the arc- in a gigantic second half run for Duke, saying after the game he’s “not sure what happened.” Gerald is one of the most athletic and talented players in the country. With Kyle Singler emerging as a force and Nolan Smith an upgrade at the point, Duke could reach the Final Four if Henderson consistently plays up to his ability. Duke pulled away with a 54-35 second half, made 40 of 47 (!) free throws, and won 83-58.

San Juan Update: Every single year, Sean Miller produces a quality basketball team. They’ll try to topple another major conference foe today in San Juan when they face Virginia Tech after defeating Missouri 75-71 in the first round of the tournament. Terrell Holloway played hero for the Musketeers, sinking 10 of 10 free throws in the second half while Missouri sunk just 15 of 31 from the charity stripe in the game. DeMarre Carroll led the way with 17 points for the Tigers while Derrick Brown finished with 16 for Xavier.

Dick Vitale spent most of the Michigan-UCLA game screaming about how the Big East will be the strongest conference in his thirty years at ESPN. Um, he may have a point. The Seton Hall Pirates, predicted around 12th-14th in the loaded conference by most prognosticators, took down the consensus #3 in the Pac-10 last night in a stunning second half comeback. The halftime deficit was 43-28 and Taj Gibson was compiling easy buckets in the post against the Hall frontcourt minus Robert Mitchell. Eugene Harvey (18/5/5) and Jeremy Hazell (15/4 stl) stepped up in the second half to carry the Pirates into another tough game against Memphis later today. The Trojans have to be the most disappointing team in the nation thus far, struggling in two home games and now laying this egg against Seton Hall. DeMar DeRozan has not looked comfortable (3pts on 1/4) and Daniel Hackett was 0/7 last night. Great win for Bobby Gonzalez and his seven scholarship players.

Other Games of Note: Illinois scored a difficult road win against Vanderbilt 69-63. Super soph Demetri McCamey sunk 5/10 threes in the contest, while senior Trent Meachem chipped in with four triples of his own. Oklahoma State and new coach Travis Ford haven’t had much trouble scoring so far this year. They dropped 91 points on a quality Tulsa squad in Stillwater with Byron Eaton (7/13 FG, 11/14 FT, 26/7/5) leading the charge. #12 Memphis pulled away from Chattanooga and won 83-71 behind five Doneal Mack treys. #19 Florida has played awesome basketball so far this year, winning 64-50 over Southern Utah behind 18/7/4 from Nick Calathes, one of the best all-around players in college hoops. Florida State narrowly avoided what would have been a horrid upset for Leonard Hamilton, beating Stetson 79-77 at home.

Upset Special: What the hell happened to George Mason?? After an intensely contested road win against NCAA contender Vermont up in Burlington, Mason faltered 50-44 to Hampton last night. They made just 33% of their shots, 2/17 from deep, turned the ball over 23 times, and compiled just four assists. Four assists! A bad, bad loss on the resume of George Mason.

Craziest Score Ever: When I saw this score for the first time on ESPN’s Bottom Line last night during the Michigan-UCLA game, I honestly thought it was a mistake. East Central Oklahoma has allowed over 100 points in each of their two games this season (D2’s VMI?), so maybe we should have seen this coming: Texas Tech winning 167-115, shattering the school record for points in a game. The Red Raiders certainly built some confidence on his squad as ten, TEN!, Tech players scored in double figures. They made 67/113 FG, 13/25 3pt attempts and compiled 35 team assists. Probably should have taken the over. Your move, Graham Harrell.

NW Wins Horse Trailer Player of the Day: Marshon Brooks, Providence- 30 points, 5 steals, 11/15 FG, 5/8 3PT, 3/3 FT

On The Tube Today:

  • Xavier vs. Virginia Tech, 130pm (ESPNU)
  • Southern Illinois vs. UCLA, 5pm (ESPN2HD)
  • Chattanooga vs. USC, 5pm (ESPNU)
  • Akron @ Pittsburgh, 7pm (ESPN FC)
  • Duke vs. Michigan, 730pm (ESPN2HD)
  • Memphis vs. Seton Hall, 730pm (ESPNU)
  • Pepperdine @ New Mexico State, 930pm (ESPN FC)
  • North Carolina @ UC-Santa Barbara, 10pm (ESPNU)

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Big Ten Week in Review (Nov. 10-17)

Posted by Patrick on November 18, 2008

https://i0.wp.com/groups.northwestern.edu/evanscholars/images/Big-10-Conference.jpg

Here is how the Big Ten teams fared in their first week of action:

Indiana (2-0): The Hoosiers should be excited that they won their first two games of the season, but not too excited. Their first game was against Northwestern State, and the Hoosiers took care of business winning 83-65. The next contest was not so one-sided as Indiana had major trouble with the Summit League’s IUPUI. In the end, Indiana would win by the score of 60-57 with a great performance from Tom Pritchard.

Hoosiers Player of the Week: Devan Dumes- 31 points (2 games)

This Week’s Slate:

Monday 11/24 vs. Notre Dame (1-0) in Maui

Penn State (2-0): The Nittany Lions also start the year with two wins against very mediocre opponents in William & Mary and NJIT, who was winless last season. On the brighter side, both games were blowouts and Penn State should continue to rack up wins with a very easy non-conference schedule.

Nittany Lions Player of the Week: Taylor Battle- 37 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists (2 games)

This Week’s Slate:

Thursday 11/20 vs. Hartford (0-2)

Sunday 11/23 vs. New Hampshire (1-0)

Iowa (2-0): How many sub-par Big Ten teams won two games this week? The Hawkeyes joined the club with wins over Charleston Southern and Texas-San Antonio. Again, good news for this team because the schedule doesn’t get much harder before conference play begins.

Hawkeyes Player of the Week: Cyrus Tate- 27 points 17 rebounds (2 games)

This Week’s Slate:

Thursday 11/20 vs. The Citadel (1-1)

Sunday 11/23 vs. Oakland (1-1)

Northwestern (1-0)- The Wildcats dominated their first opponent Central Arkansas 81-39. Northwestern looks like they should be much better this year than in the past few seasons and maybe even have a long shot at making the NIT.

Wildcats Player of the Week: Kevin Coble- 15 points, 8 rebounds

This Week’s Slate:

Wednesday 11/19 vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (1-1)

Saturday 11/22 at Brown (0-2)

Illinois (2-0): Illinois got two wins in their first week, but they still have a very long way to go if they want to contend for the Big Ten title anytime this season.  The good news is that the Fighting Illini are getting contributions up and down the roster, with six players averaging at least five points in those two games. The bad news is that the schedule gets much tougher with a game at Vanderbilt on Thursday.

Fighting Illini Player of the Week: Trent Meachem- 32 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists

This Week’s Slate:

Thursday 11/20 at Vanderbilt (1-0)

Sunday 11/23 vs. Jackson State (0-1)

Michigan (2-0): Michigan will play Thursday night against UCLA at Madison Square Garden in the semifinals of the 2K Sports Classic. To get there the Wolverines needed to beat D2 opponent Michigan Tech and one of the top picks to contend for the CAA in Northeastern. Michigan won both games handily, and Manny Harris had huge nights, but in order to play with teams like UCLA, the Wolverines need to box out. Northeastern snagged 20 offensive rebounds in their contest.

Wolverines Player of the Week: Manny Harris- 56 points, 17 rebounds, 10 assists

This Week’s Slate:

Thursday 11/20 vs. UCLA (2-0) in New York

Friday 11/21 vs. Duke (3-0)/Southern Illinois (2-0) in New York

Minnesota (3-0): The Golden Gophers had two very close games against the only Division-1 opponents they played this week. They won by just seven points against Bowling Green, and then sneaked by Georgia Southern 60-52. Minnesota really doesn’t have a test until they play Louisville at home on December 20th.

Golden Gophers Player of the Week: Lawrence Westbrook 48 points (3 games)

This Week’s Slate:

Saturday 11/22 at Colorado State (2-0)

Ohio State (0-0): DNP this week

This Week’s Slate:

Thursday 11/20 vs. Delaware State (1-2)

Monday 11/24 vs. Bowling Green (2-1)

Wisconsin (2-0): The Badgers had plenty of trouble taking care of business against Long Beach State, and then easily won their game against SIU-Edwardsville tonight. The Badgers looked slow against LBSU, and we should get a better look at them in the Paradise Jam this week.

Badgers Player of the Week: Marcus Landry- 46 points, 8 rebounds (2 games)

This Week’s Slate:

Friday 11/19 vs. Iona (1-0) at the Virgin Islands

Saturday 11/20-Sunday 11/21 Paradise Jam Semis/Finals

Purdue (3-0): Today the Boilermakers wrote their own ticket to Madison Square Garden where they will take on Boston College in the semifinals of the Preseason NIT. Purdue won all of their games by 30 or more points.

Boilermakers Player of the Week: E’Twaun Moore- 49 points (3 games)

This Week’s Slate:

Saturday 11/22 vs. Coppin State (1-0)

Michigan State (1-0): The Spartans started with a very convincing win over Idaho, scoring 100 points in their first game. All of this is just preparation for the Old Spice Classic which takes place over Thanksgiving Weekend.

Spartans Player of the Week: Raymar Morgan 21 points

This Week’s Slate:

Wednesday 11/19 vs. IPFW (0-1)

Big Ten Team of the Week: Purdue Boilermakers

Big Ten Player of the Week: Manny Harris, Michigan

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Top Ten Games Of The Week (November 17-23)

Posted by Zach on November 17, 2008

The first week of the college hoops season was filled mostly with low-majors attempting to pull off miraculous upsets or two of the top mid-majors in the country doing battle. I’m not saying it was a snoozer seven days; there were certainly a fair share of thrilling games and nail biting finishes for the debut week of the season. But this week we start getting into the meat of November and the preseason tournaments. It’s not quite Old Spice/Maui time yet, but these matchups should keep your plate filled until Thanksgiving break.

1. Coaches vs. Cancer Semis/Finals (November 20, 21, ESPN2)
– I made the dire mistake last week of assuming Houston would beat Georgia Southern and advance to play Duke, so rather than place Duke vs. UCLA as my #1 game, I’ll lump the entire tournament together as my number one game. The semis are both very intriguing with Southern Illinois playing the mid-major that everyone will be rooting for to topple big bad Duke. In the second game, Michigan will need another virtuoso performance from Manny Harris to take down UCLA and their deep, talented squad. Seeing as Rhode Island nearly won at Cameron Sunday, it’d be foolish to write Duke-UCLA in pen. But I’d be shocked if you didn’t see that beautiful matchup Friday night at the Garden. Prediction: Duke 70, UCLA 66 in final

2. Puerto Rico Tip-Off (November 20-23, ESPNU/ESPN2)
– Plenty of quality contests in Puerto Rico beginning on Thursday with Missouri taking on Xavier in the afternoon in what should be a very close game. The winner of that gets to take on Virginia Tech Friday afternoon. On the other side of the bracket, Memphis should defeat Chattanooga while USC will likely handle Seton Hall, setting up an Evans vs. DeRozan battle on Friday night between two very athletic teams. The final could feature any of these teams on Sunday on ESPN. You know the tournament is strong when I’m looking forward to the consolation game, as well. Prediction: USC 75, Virginia Tech 69 in final

3. Paradise Jam Semifinals (November 23, FCS Pacific)
– Assuming we avoid some stunning upset like Southern Miss over Miami, the semis at the Paradise Jam on Sunday night should be Miami vs. Connecticut and San Diego vs. Wisconsin. You’re wondering the same thing I am: why are the two best teams in the tournament on the same side of the bracket? Maybe a nod of respect to Bo Ryan and his recent success in Madison. Regardless, Miami-Connecticut is a battle of top-15 caliber teams featuring Jack McClinton trying to score over Hasheem Thabeet, while San Diego nearly beat UNLV on the road with four key players suspended, so don’t count them out against the Badgers. Prediction: Connecticut vs. Wisconsin final

4. #21 Davidson at #12 Oklahoma (November 18, ESPN2)
– The premiere matchup of the College Hoops Tip-Off 24-hour marathon on the ESPN family is not Kentucky vs. North Carolina. The best game is Davidson vs. Oklahoma for a trip to New York. You all know what to expect from the Wildcats- plenty of Stephen Curry shooting threes. And we can all agree that’s not such a bad thing, right? Also not a bad thing: Watching Blake Griffin score and rebound in the post. Because I don’t see anyone containing my National Player of the Year pick, the Sooners advance. Also keep an eye on Tony Crocker and Austin Johnson trying to contain Curry for forty minutes. Prediction: Oklahoma 80, Davidson 72

5. Kentucky at #1 North Carolina (November 18, ESPN)
– Sure, this game has lost some of its luster. Kentucky is no longer a national powerhouse and lost Friday to VMI. North Carolina declared Tyler Hansbrough out for Tuesday’s contest. Still, College Gameday will be there, it’s a historic and entertaining rivalry, and we get to see great players like Pat Patterson and Wayne Ellington. So stop complaining. Why will North Carolina prevail? I expect Ty Lawson to exploit the Kentucky point guards and have a huge game. Prediction: North Carolina 83, Kentucky 70

6. UAB at Arizona (November 18, ESPN2)- The UAB Blazers are a dangerous team this year in Conference USA, folks. They feature an ultra-talented two headed monster in Paul Delaney and Robert Vaden and Mike Davis, for all of his past transgressions, is a fine basketball coach. They’ll travel to Tuscon fearless and primed for an upset over Chase Budinger, Nic Wise, Jordan Hill and the Wildcats. Unless Budinger asserts himself from the tip, I think an upset is very possible here, with Vaden showcasing his talents on national television much like he did last year in Freedom Hall. Prediction: UAB 69, Arizona 68

7. Nevada at San Diego (November 18, ESPN FC)
– This game isn’t part of the ESPN Tip-Off Marathon, but it very well should be. I’ll certainly be flipping over to ESPN Full Court to watch freshman phenom Luke Babbitt lead the charge for Nevada into San Diego to take on Brandon Johnson, Gyno Pomare and the Torreros. Credit San Diego coach Bill Grier for scheduling so many top mid-majors early in the season; a victory over Nevada, a tournament team, could prove vital on Selection Sunday.  Prediction: San Diego 70, Nevada 67

8. #15 Arizona State at San Diego State (November 18, CBS College Sports)
– Yet another tremendous basketball game on Tuesday, this one possibly resulting in Upset City. The Aztecs return 96% of their scoring and 84% of their rebounding from last season under head coach Steve Fisher, led by stars Lorrenzo Wade and Marquette transfer Ryan Amoroso. Kyle Spain and Tim Shelton also boost an outstanding frontcourt, meaning Jeff Pendergraph is going to have his hands full. I’m calling this one, folks. Prediction: San Diego State 70, Arizona State 68

9. Massachusetts at #13 Memphis (November 17, ESPN)
– I’ll be staying up late to watch this one on ESPNHD, with John Calipari coaching against his former assistant (Derek Kellogg) and school (Massachusetts, whom he coached to prominence in the 90’s). This will be my first look at Tyreke Evans and his ability to run the point for the Tigers. Chris Lowe, Anthony Gurley and Ricky Harris may be able to hang around with Memphis for a while, but the muscle of Taggart and Dozier down low will be too much to handle. Prediction: Memphis 84, Massachusetts 74

10. Illinois at Vanderbilt (November 20, ESPN FC)
– Both of these teams will likely end up in the NIT, but it’s still Big Ten vs. SEC in November, which means I’ll be tuning in. A.J. Ogilvy is one of the top players in the SEC while Chester Frazier and Robert Meachem lead the way for Bruce Weber’s Illini in a difficult road environment. If Demetri McCamey is shooting well from deep, Illinois has a chance.  Prediction: Vanderbilt 69, Illinois 64

Honorable Mention

  • Georgia at #11 Purdue (November 18)
  • Miami (OH) at #6 Pittsburgh (November 17)
  • Tennessee-Martin at #13 Tennessee (November 18)
  • Cleveland State at Washington (November 18)
  • Tulsa at Oklahoma State (November 20)
  • Vermont at Maryland (November 21)
  • UAB at Old Dominion (November 22)
  • VCU at Rhode Island (November 22)
  • Clemson at Charlotte (November 22)

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November 13: The Day After

Posted by Patrick on November 12, 2008

PATRICK: Here are some notes on the games that took place last night in the 2k Sports Classic:

Miami (OH) defeats Weber State in a close one: I guess this is a bit of an upset because Miami is traveling halfway across the country to play this game. Congratulations, now you get UCLA at Pauley Pavilion.

Michigan wiped the floor with Northeastern: I thought this was going to be a much closer contest, but I was mistaken. Michigan dominated the second half of this game offensively and defensively. They forced Northeastern to put up bad shots and the Wolverines lived at the free throw line where they missed only 1 of 26 attempts.

Manny Harris- In my opinion, Harris is the frontrunner for Big Ten Player Of The Year; this kid has ridiculous game. 26 points and 10 rebounds tonight, and against a formidable opponent. It will be nice to see how he performs on the national stage at Madison Square Garden.

Michigan a Sleeper?- Just the fact that they have Manny Harris on their roster makes them a potential surprise in the Big Ten, but tonight some other players stepped it up. DeShawn Sims, a junior forward, scored 19 points, and fellow big man Zack Gibson had a great game as well. The Michigan coaching staff is saying that Laval-Lucas Perry (transfer from Arizona that will be eligible after the fall semester) is the “hardest player to stop in practice”. Unless Harris doesn’t practice, that’s saying a lot for this young man.

—————————————————————————

ZACH: I know this blog is quickly turning into the Manny Harris Fan Site, but I have to give my own tip of the cap to his performance against a quality mid-major opponent. The scoring total isn’t all that surprising given the potential of Harris, but 10 rebounds and 8 assists, too? Only a sophomore, Harris, as Pat so astutely pointed out, is the frontrunner for Big Ten Player of the Year. Raymar Morgan still hasn’t shown me enough consistency to garner the favorite tag, the Purdue guys don’t put up the numbers, and Mullens is still TBD. I feel like Trevon Hughes can be a sleeper. No doubt it’s Harris at this early stage, though. The fashion in which he dominated scoring-wise while also keeping Sims, Gibson and others involved was a thing of beauty. Harris went 13-14 from the FT line, also. This is enough to give him the Horse Trailer for the second consecutive day!

A game I was really looking forward to seeing the result of was Southern Illinois vs. Massachusetts. How would the defensive-minded, slow-paced Saluki offense match up against the run-and-gun UMass scoring attack? The Minutemen led by 11 at half and Chris Lowery’s team was 0 for 8 from three. In the second half, Southern Illinois hit nine threes and Bryan Mullins finished with 13 assists. The 52 points SIU notched in the second frame has to be a high total for them in a long time.  Overall, not a great night for the commonwealth of Massachusetts. The dynamic backcourt trio of Lowe-Gurley-Harris combined for 56 of the 73 UMass points, but they ultimately fell 80-73 in Carbondale. Why did I pick against them at home??

The preseason top-five UCLA Bruins kicked off their season last night against Prairie View A&M, winning 82-58 and leading comfortably throughout. I wasn’t able to see any of this game, but I’m hoping to catch some UCLA-Miami (OH) action after the Patriots-Jets game tonight. Darren Collison led the way for the Bruins with 19 points, 4 assists and his usual solid defense. The freshmen: Morgan with 4, Gordon with 6, Holiday with 11.

NW Wins Horse Trailer Player of the Day: Manny Harris, Michigan- 26 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists, 6-9 FG, 13-14 FT

Other quick notes as I peruse the box scores:

– Massachusetts point guard Chris Lowe committed a whopping 10 turnovers with zero assists last night. I know the Saluki defense is mauling, but coach Kellogg is going to need much more proficiency out of his point guard if he wants to win big A10 road games at Xavier, Charlotte and St. Joe’s

– Miami (OH) barely escaped on a late Kenny Hayes three to defeat Weber State, as Pat mentioned. Hayes actually hit all seven threes he attempted (no relation). Their matchup tonight should be catastrophically slow-paced until Darren Collison is racing up the floor with another steal. Miami was dominated on the boards, outshot, and nearly outplayed by Weber State. This can’t spell good fortunes for their matchup tonight if they had any upset thoughts.

UM Hoops and Rush the Court points out that Northeastern grabbed 20 offensive rebounds last night. Where art thou on the offensive boards, DeShawn Sims? They’ll need to improve on the glass or the Big Ten won’t be happy times.

Tonight on the tube: Miami (OH) vs. UCLA- 11 PM ET (ESPNU)

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November 12: The Day After

Posted by Zach on November 12, 2008

ZACH: I caught bits and pieces of the Michigan Tech-Michigan and Georgia Southern-Duke games on The U last night. Taking too much credence out of a performance against a Division II team (although Michigan Tech was picked second in their conference behind Grand Valley State…so I guess they’re not gawd-awful) would be foolish…but Manny Harris was terrific, dropping 30 points and notching 7 rebounds in 30 minutes. He showed a variety of elaborate moves driving to the hoop and shot well from the outside, nailing three long balls. I considered Harris for my Big Ten Player of the Year award before ultimately deciding on Keaton Grant as a sleeper, especially because Michigan won’t be especially competitive this season. He looks like he’s on a mission to prove me wrong. But, again. Division 2.

Duke put on an absolute clinic in defeating Georgia Southern. They played much better than the first night’s performance against Presbyterian- most notably rebounding, limiting turnovers, and playing active defense. Nolan Smith went 3/4 from deep, showing that it’s entirely possible Greg Paulus’ one major strength (outside shooting) won’t even present a downgrade in the starting five. Kyle Singler appears to be the total package early- the outside jumper is still there, but he’s attacking the rim and boards with more ferocity, getting easy shots and converted. Freshman Elliot Williams grabbed 11 rebounds in 14 minutes of garbage time a day after his ridiculous 360 dunk with Duke leading by 300.

A Duke recap wouldn’t be complete without a frontcourt update. Duke played their usual dribble-drive, spread the floor around the perimeter type offense, which will work fine against Georgia Southern, but against opponents with multiple big men, they’ll need someone to emerge in the post. Brian Zoubek picked up four more fouls in 14 minutes. Miles Plumlee played sparingly, and Lance Thomas looked like he was slightly improved. The jury’s still out. Speaking of Thomas, he went 1 for 8 from the stripe, and Duke as a whole went 25-49. That has to be a point of concern. But, again. Georgia Southern.

Southern Illinois struggled with Division 2 California (PA) last night in Carbondale. The game was actually tied at halftime before the Salukis and Carlton Fay (16/11) pulled away in the second half. Massachusetts and Corey Lowe (11 assists) dominated their D2 opponent and these two teams will face off tonight for a visit with Duke at MSG. In the Ann Arbor Regional, Northeastern handled IUPUI with ease and will play the Wolverines tonight. This one will be much closer than expected unless Michigan’s supporting cast around Harris steps up.

Michigan vs. Northeastern – 8 PM ET (ESPNU), UCLA vs. Prairie View A&M- 10 PM ET (ESPNU)

NW Wins Horse Trailer Player of the Day: Manny Harris, Michigan: 30 points, 10/15 FG, 3/5 3PT, 7/9 FT, 7 rebounds, 2 assists

We’ll have the Wednesday selections up when the lines are released.

Posted in The Day After | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Big Ten Preview

Posted by Tommy on October 16, 2008

The Big Ten, which has been in somewhat of a down period the past couple of seasons, looks to be on the rise and boasts some of the best coaches the country has to offer. Names like Tom Izzo, Bo Ryan, John Beilein, Tubby Smith, Thad Matta, Bruce Weber, Todd Lickliter and Matt Painter are at the helm of their respective teams once again and Indiana brings in former Marquette coach Tom Crean to lead them out of the dark times in the wake of the Sampson scandals in Bloomington. The Big Ten is known for its hard-nosed defensive basketball as well as its slower paced style of play. I’ll run down the conference from top to bottom with predicted conference records and give projected starters for each team and I’ll highlight the marquee games. I’ll also give the First and Second Team All-Big Ten as well as Coach of the Year, Player of the Year, Newcomer of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.

1. Purdue Boilermakers (15-3): Matt Painter has done a tremendous job coaching his Baby Boilermakers over the past two seasons. They’ve exceeded expectations with their young squad, but now that they’re weathered veterans, expectations are high in West Lafayette. Last year’s Defensive POY, Chris Kramer, returns along with Robbie Hummel, E’Twaun Moore and Keaton Grant in hopes of bringing home their first regular season Big-10 Title since 1996. The only apparent weakness in this team is their lack of size, which they have made up for in the past couple of years with team speed.

Projected Starters

G- Chris Kramer
G- E’Twaun Moore
G – Keaton Grant
F – Robbie Hummel
F/C – JaJuan Johnson

Marquee Games: Duke (12/2), Wisconsin (1/11), @ Wisco (1/27), @ Ohio State (2/3), Michigan State (2/17), Ohio State (2/28), @ Michigan State (3/7)

2. Michigan State Spartans (14-4): Sparty is going to have the most explosive team in the Big Ten this season. Sophomore Kalin Lucas burst onto the scene last season at the point, establishing himself as a premier guard in the conference. He’ll play alongside senior Travis Walton who is also capable of running the point, giving Tom Izzo a very versatile and talented backcourt. The frontcourt, made up of Goran Suton and Marquise Gray, is very tough in the paint but won’t dominate anybody with their offensive skills. The key to this year’s team in East Lansing is versatile forward Raymar Morgan. In the past he took a back seat in the offense to Drew Neitzel, but now that Neitzel is gone, Morgan is going to be the primary scoring threat. Stud freshman forward Delvon Roe is going to be an X-factor for Izzo this year. He possesses a better skill set on offense than either Suton or Gray, but will the microfracture surgery on his knee affect his play?

Projected Starters

G – Kalin Lucas
G – Travis Walton
F – Raymar Morgan
F – Delvon Roe
C – Goran Suton

Marquee Games: Old Spice Classic: (probable opponents: Gonzaga (11/28), Georgetown (11/30)), North Carolina (12/3), Texas (12/20), Ohio State (1/6), Kansas (1/10), @ Ohio State (1/25), @ Purdue (2/17), Wisconsin (2/22), Purdue (3/7)

3. Wisconsin Badgers(12-6): The Badgers suffered a couple of key losses in lockdown defender Michael Flowers and big man Brian Butch, but return enough key components from last year’s Big Ten Regular Season Champs to stay near the top of the Big Ten. Point guard Trevon Hughes returns with a full year of experience under his belt starting at point guard along with Mr. Do-it-All Joe Krabbenhoft and scrappy post player Marcus Landry. The Big Ten’s 2007-08 Sixth Man of the Year Jason Bohannon is going to see a lot more shooting opportunities this season. Incoming freshman center Jared Berggren could find his 6’10” 235 lb frame starting come conference play. The Badgers will have a couple of good guards along with a tough and undersized frontcourt, but no matter how low the expectations have been for Bo Ryan, he always seems to have the Badgers in the hunt for a Big Ten title. A pretty favorable Big Ten schedule will certainly help them as well since they only play Ohio State and Michigan State once.

Projected Starters

G – Trevon Hughes
G – Jason Bohannon
F – Jon Leuer
F – Joe Krabbenhoft
F – Marcus Landry

Marquee Games: @ Marquette (12/6), Texas (12/23), @ Purdue (1/11), Purdue (1/27), Ohio State (2/14), @ Michigan State (2/22)

4. Ohio State Buckeyes (12-6): Thad Matta brings in a couple of superstar freshmen in B.J. Mullens and William Buford. The Buckeyes are going to be pretty young this year with six incoming freshman, three of whom could very well start. Mullens is going to have to get at least a touch on every possession for the Buckeyes; he’s so talented he deserves to get the ball every time down the court. The big question for Ohio State is their backcourt. Will Jon Diebler become the three-point threat everybody thought he was going to be? Also, Matta will probably have a freshman at the point, which is never a good sign. I believe that this team will have a few rough spots in the first couple of months, but once these freshmen establish a chemistry, Ohio State is talented enough to take down anybody in the Big Ten.

Projected Starters

G – Anthony Crater
G – William Buford
F – David Lighty
F – Evan Turner
C – BJ Mullens

Marquee Games: @ Miami (12/2), @ Notre Dame (12/6), West Virginia (12/27), @ Michigan State (1/6), Michigan State (1/25), Purdue (2/3), @ Wisconsin (2/14), @ Purdue (2/28)

5. Minnesota Golden Gophers (10-8) The Gophers shocked Indiana in the Big Ten tourney last year with a last second, weak-handed shot from Blake Hoffarber. This year the Gophers will feature a strong backcourt made up by Al Nolen, Hoffarber and Lawrence Westbrook as well as incoming freshman Devoe Joseph. It’s evident that Tubby is starting to bring a basketball culture to the Barn with some pretty big recruits in Joseph, Ralph Sampson III and Colton Iverson. Sampson and Iverson are going to have to step in and contribute right away after the losses of Spencer Tollackson and Dan Coleman. This team has a lot of young talent, but can Tubby harness it and become successful in the Big Ten? I don’t think they’ll be overly successful quite yet but look for this team to make some noise in the coming seasons if everybody sticks around.

Projected Starters

G – Al Nolen
G – Blake Hoffarber
G – Lawrence Westbrook
F – Jamal Abu-Shamala
C – Ralph Sampson III

Marquee Games: Louisville (in Glendale, AZ on 12/20), Michigan State (12/21), Ohio State (1/3), @ Wisconsin (1/15), Purdue (1/22), @ Michigan State (2/4), Ohio State (2/7), @ Michigan (2/19)

6. Michigan Wolverines (9-9) Much like Tubby Smith, Jon Beilein is trying to start up a basketball culture in Ann Arbor, and has brought in some pretty nice recruits to do so. This team will be driven by guard Manny Harris, who I think will become a household name, forwards Anthony Wright and DeShawn Sims. This team will go through its share of growing pains, but the natural talent is there for the Wolverines.

Projected Starters

G – Manny Harris
G – Kelvin Grady
F – Anthony Wright
F – DeShawn Sims
F/C – Zack Gibson

7. Illinois Fighting Illini (8-10) The 2007-08 campaign was a struggle for Bruce Weber and the Illini going 5-13 in conference play. This year’s team will rely on its backcourt for its production. Guards Trent Meachem and sophomore Demetri McCamey are going to be the primary threats for Weber. Kentucky transfer Alex Legion is a huge boost to a team that needs all the help they can get when he becomes eligible in December. The Illini’s strong backcourt will keep them in games but their frontcourt could be their Achilles’ heel the entire season.

Projected Starters

G – Trent Meachem
G – Demetri McCamey
G – Calvin Brock
F – Mike Davis
C – Mike Tisdale

8. Northwestern Wildcats (6-12) Kevin Coble and Michael Thompson are two of the better players in the Big Ten at their respective positions. Thompson averaged 4.3 APG last season at the point and Coble contributed 13.4 PPG as a forward. Much of their supporting cast is returning next year, including Craig Moore and Sterling Williams. Their incoming freshman class is extraordinarily big with two players over 6’11” and two more over 6’8″. A couple of these freshmen like Luka Mirkovic and Kyle Rowley are going to have to step in right away and contribute.

Projected Starters

G – Michael Thompson
G – Craig Moore
F – Sterling Williams
F – Kevin Coble
C – Kyle Rowley

9. Penn State Nittany Lions (5-13) When I look at this Penn State team, there are two questions I ask myself. Will they decide to play defense this season? And who will support Jamelle Cornley and Talor Battle? If they do decide to play defense, this team could leap in front of Northwestern. As for the support of Cornley and Battle, most of it will be coming from 3-point specialist Danny Morrissey and forward Stanley Pringle. After these four players there won’t be much production, so depth is going to be a big detriment for the Lions.

Projected Starters

G – Talor Battle
G – Danny Morrissey
F – Jamelle Cornley
F – Stabley Pringle
F – Andrew Jones III

10. Iowa Hawkeyes (3-15) The Hawkeyes lost several key components from last year’s team who went 6-12 in the Big Ten. Community College transfer Devan Bawinkle is going to have to shoulder some of the load right away along with forward Cyrus Tate, especially with Jarryd Cole’s reeling ACL injury. Iowa’s frontcourt is a huge question mark for Todd Lickliter after the losses of Kurt Looby and Seth Gorney. Overall, the Hawkeyes are going to struggle filling the holes of the departures from both their backcourt and frontcourt but their great defense may keep them in some games they’re not supposed to be in.

Prjected Starters

G – Jeff Peterson
G – Jake Kelly
G – Devan Bawinkle
F – Cyrus Tate
F – Jarryd Cole

11. Indiana Hoosiers (0-18) The struggles of the usually great Indiana basketball program are well known. Tom Crean inherits a team with one scholarship player returning, but does bring in a nice amount of notable recruits. Freshmen Matt Roth, Verdell Jones III, Nick Williams and Malik Storey could all very well all start for Crean. Transfers Tijan Jobe and Devon Dumes are the only players on the roster with significant game experience in college. Needless to say, Crean needs a couple of seasons to get Indiana back on its feet. Jeremiah Rivers, who will be eligible to play in Bloomington next season, will help.

Projected Starters

G – Verdell Jones III
G – Matt Roth
G – Nick Williams
F – Kyle Taber
C – Tijan Jobe

First Team All-Big Ten                                    Second Team All-Big 10

G – Kalin Lucas                                                            G – Trevon Hughes
G – Manny Harris                                                         G – Chris Kramer
F – Joe Krabbenhoft                                                      G – Al Nolen
F – Raymar Morgan                                                       F – Kevin Coble
C – BJ Mullens                                                              F – Robbie Hummel

Coach of the Year: Bo Ryan
Player of the Year: Raymar Morgan
Newcomer of the Year: BJ Mullens
Defensive Player of the Year: Chris Kramer

Posted in Conference Previews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Summer Big Ten Report

Posted by Zach on August 12, 2008

We’ve covered the ACC and the Big East thus far in our summer preview editions on the site, and with the Pac-10 coming soon courtesy of Tommy, I figured the Big Ten should be the next in line. While the conference perennially has its fair share of talent, the focus of Big Ten basketball has long been defense, rebounding and physicality. One may see a boring or slow basketball game in a contest that’s 57-55 with 30 seconds to play, but real fans acknowledge the hard-fought tendencies and fundamentals established year in and year out in this conference. This campaign should be a fun one- Michigan State and Purdue as the top contenders, tournament teams like Wisconsin, Ohio State and Minnesota just behind, while Illinois, Michigan, Northwestern, Iowa and Penn State join rebuilding Indiana in the rear.

Illinois- The strength of the Fighting Illini in their efforts to return to the NCAA tournament will lie in their backcourt. The loss of oft-troubled Jamar Smith hurts the team’s ability to shoot from the outside, but emerging sophomore Demetri McCamey, a three-point specialist who broke out in the classic Eric Gordon clash with Indiana last season, may be able to shoulder much of that workload. The backcourt is strengthened by the addition of Kentucky transfer Alex Legion and the return of scorer Trent Meachem. The questions obviously focus on the frontcourt, and losing both Shaun Pruitt and Brian Randle doesn’t help that cause. At least two of Mike Tisdale, Mike Davis and Bill Cole must step up for Illinois to contend for the bubble, but none of them even managed 4 PPG last season in limited action. The loss of Smith probably keeps Bruce Weber’s team out of the NCAA picture. Postseason: NIT

Indiana- Diehard Hoosier fans must show patience with new coach Tom Crean in his quest to completely overhaul and rebuild a destroyed program following the ugly departure of Kelvin Sampson. Eleven players are gone from a 25-win team and it’s difficult to point to one area where Indiana is set for this upcoming season in terms of any semblance of a starting five. Indiana was supposed to be returning Armon Bassett (UAB), Jamarcus Ellis, Jordan Crawford (Xavier) and DeAndre Thomas to a squad looking to contend for an NCAA berth, but all have departed for other programs. The Hoosiers will have to depend heavily on freshmen Nick Williams, Matt Roth, Verdell Jones and JC transfers Tijan Jobe and Devon Dumes. Crean is already starting to build a solid program with 2009 commitments Jordan Hulls and Maurice Cheek, the former being the #8 PG in the nation from Indiana’s backyard. Postseason: None

Iowa- Coach Todd Lickliter’s Iowa Hawkeyes still don’t have the talent to contend in the upper echelon of the conference, but Lickliter’s teams always defend well and play inspired basketball on their home court, two factors that prevent their opponents from overlooking Iowa on any given night. Still, the loss of outstanding scoring guard Tony Freeman to Southern Illinois and backcourt mate Justin Johnson to graduation, the only two players who scored in double digits last season, hurts in a profound way. Two players in the frontcourt that need to step up for Iowa to contend for the tournament are Cyrus Tate, a 6’8 senior who averaged 8.3 PPG last season, and 6’7 enforcer Jarryd Cole. Both players finished with over 67% from the floor last season, but will need to do more with increased minutes. The threat from outside is sophomore Jake Kelly, a pinpoint shooter from three-point range at 44% last season.  Postseason: None

Michigan- John Beilein was undoubtedly a tremendous coup for the Michigan program (as was their new football coach), and will have the Wolverines on the track to NCAA contention sooner than later. To expect the team to make that leap this season may be too much to ask, though. They do boast one of the top talents in the conference and the leading returning scorer, sophomore sensation Manny Harris. The success of Michigan will hinge on whether they can provide enough scoring help for Harris. The contenders are forward DeShawn Sims, a 6’8 forward who averaged 12 and 5 last season, and emerging 6’10 junior center Zack Gibson. Unfortunately for them, Ekpe Udoh transferred to Baylor and German recruit Robin Benzing did not meet eligibility requirements, so it’s up to Sims, Gibson and Anthony Wright. Coach Beilein is building a quality team that is clearly on the rise. Postseason: NIT

Michigan State- The loss of Drew Neitzel on and off the court hurts for the Spartans, but Tom Izzo’s squad returns more than enough talent to avenge last year’s disappointing season and win the Big Ten. Topping that list is inside-outside threat Raymar Morgan, a conference player of the year candidate who can score, rebound, dish and is an efficient shooter from anywhere on the floor. Joining Morgan in the frontcourt are experienced seniors Goran Suton and Marquise Gray. Incoming five-star freshman Delvon Roe will likely be 100% healed from micro fracture knee surgery to give Izzo another scoring force from the paint. The backcourt is anchored by speedster sophomore guard Kalin Lucas, a player quickly molding into Ty Lawson Lite with a tremendous feel for the game. Let the debate continue over whether the Spartans or Boilermakers are the class of the conference this season. Postseason: NCAA

Minnesota- Some writers are pegging Minnesota as a potential surprise team in the conference this season, but losing your top three scorers from an NIT team doesn’t put me in that same boat. Still, the Gophers will contend in their second year under Tubby Smith, even with the loses of Lawrence McKenzie, Spencer Tollackson and Dan Coleman. Look for progress out of guards Lawrence Westbrook and Blake Hoffarber in the backcourt, one bolstered by the commitment of talented freshman Devoe Joseph in the first of many stellar Tubby recruiting classes (or at least we expect so). The frontcourt is extremely thin with the losses of Tollackson and Coleman, so look for prized freshman Ralph Sampson III to step in right away, and after growing pains and development, become a true force in the paint for the Gophers. Postseason: NIT

Northwestern- Could the Northwestern Wildcats finally make a postseason tournament this season, whether it be the CBI, NIT or (gasp) the NCAA Tournament? Well, no, they don’t have a chance for the NCAA, but Wildcat fans should have a sliver of hope for a successful campaign for a program that has just three conference wins since 2005. They return star forward Kevin Coble (15.9 PPG, 81% FT) and emerging backcourt mates Craig Moore (13.4 PPG, 40% from 3) and Michael Thompson (11.6 PPG), all double digit scorers who will keep Northwestern out of the sixties in points more often than not this season. The recruiting class is loaded with height, the star being 7’0 center Kyle Rowley from Lake Forest Academy. Bill Carmody is obviously on the hot seat given the putridity of Northwestern’s program the last few seasons. Expect them to pull off some stunning upsets and turn a few heads this season. Postseason: NIT

Ohio State- Thad Matta’s recruiting prowess is often able to prevent Ohio State from rebuilding. Losing senior leader Jamar Butler, first round draft pick and inside anchor Kosta Koufos and bulldog Othello Hunter would cripple most teams, but Matta lured in two outstanding recruits- center B.J. Mullens, one of the top five freshmen in the nation heading into this season and a 7’1 behemoth in the paint, and shooting guard William Buford, another five-star with big-time scoring abilities and driving ability. The key for Ohio State will be the progress of guards David Lighty, Evan Turner and Jon Diebler from the outside. They shot 34, 33 and 29 percent from behind the arc last season, so obvious improvements are needed. If they are able to boost those totals, the Buckeyes become one of the best inside-outside teams in the conference with Mullens manning the paint. Postseason: NCAA

Penn State- Losing Geary Claxton, the face of the Penn State basketball team and their only true nationally known player, will be crippling. The Nittany Lions are hoping Jamelle Cornley, an emerging forward scorer and leader from last season coming off knee surgery this March, will take Claxton’s place as the go-to guy. Cornley averaged 12.1 PPG and 6.0 RPG last season in 30 MPG. Talor Battle is an intriguing sophomore with upside and Tony Morrissey is another player who is hoping to become the backcourt floor leader for Penn State and coach Ed DeChellis. The enigma with Penn State has always been their defense, or lack thereof. For them to have any chance of making a postseason tournament this season, the defense must be somewhat respectable. Postseason: None

Purdue- Coach Matt Painter has brought this Purdue program great lengths in a very short period of time and should be constantly praised on a national level. They return all five starters from last year’s Baby Boilers surprisingly successful campaign, only losing Scott Martin to Notre Dame. Matt Painter says the team is determined to advance further than the second round in this year’s NCAA tournament and they’ll use the defeat at the hands of Xavier as motivation. E’Twaun Moore emerged as the team’s most reliable and explosive scorer and fellow guard Robbie Hummel became the glue player so vital to teams hoping to reach the Final Four. Moore, Hummel and Grant all shot over 43% from three-point range last season, as the long-range jumper quickly became as much a strength for Purdue as rebounding is their clear weakness. They need Chris Kramer and JaJuan Johnson to improve in that area. Postseason: NCAA

Wisconsin- It’s been said in every Big Ten preview article and it’s worth being said again: counting out Bo Ryan and the Wisconsin system this season is a grave mistake, much like every other season.  Wisconsin plays tremendous defense and protects their home floor better than any team in the nation. Losing Brian Butch and Michael Flowers stings, but Trevon Hughes is ready to take off as an all-Big Ten contender this season and Jason Bohannon as a top three-point shooter. Role players Marcus Landry and Joe Krabbenhoft need to vault themselves to a more integral part of the offense, or Wisconsin will greatly struggle scoring points. Sophomores Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil will play more and help in the frontcourt along with Ryan’s top incoming freshman, center Jared Berggren. Expect the Badgers to make the NCAA tournament once again. Postseason: NCAA

Predicted Order Of Finish:

1. Michigan State, 2. Purdue, 3. Wisconsin, 4. Ohio State, 5. Michigan, 6. Minnesota, 7. Northwestern, 8. Illinois, 9. Iowa, 10. Penn State, 11. Indiana

Posted in Big Ten Report | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »