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Posts Tagged ‘Wisconsin Badgers’

Weekend Roundup (11/22-23)

Posted by Tommy on November 24, 2008

Saturday, 11/22: After such an exciting week in college basketball, Saturday’s slate was pretty pedestrian, taking a back seat to the late-season action of college football. The Paradise Jam played its consolation semis, the Las Vegas Invitational featured Kentucky vs. Delaware State and Pitt vs. Indiana (PA), while Texas Tech and Eastern Kentucky squared off in the Legends Classic. Although there weren’t any noteworthy games on Saturday, there were plenty of close ones.

The Mercer Bears, apparently unafraid of challenging major conference opponents, took Georgia Tech to overtime Saturday afternoon. After a 16-0 Bears run, Mercer extended their lead all the way to 18 with 12 minutes in the second half. The Yellow Jackets trailed the entire game until Zach Peacock’s pair of free throws tied the game at 69 with 32 seconds left. Gani Lawal, who had a team-high 27 points, blocked James Florence’s bid at a game winner to send it into overtime, where the Jackets never looked back. Florence gave the Bears 26 points and E.J Kusneyer contributed 22. Keep an eye on these Bears come March.

Gardner-Webb, another team that isn’t scared to play with the big boys, gave the Sooners a run for their money on Saturday. Oklahoma seemed to be running away with the game after they rallied to an 11 point lead with 5 minutes in the second half, but Gardner-Webb cut the deficit to five at the half. If it wasn’t for Blake Griffin’s career highs with 35 points, 21 rebounds and five assists, the Sooners probably would have fallen to the Bulldogs, who had a five point lead with six minutes left in the game. Griffin is certainly looking like the National Player of the Year right now after his huge performance last night. He’s averaging 26.0 PPG and 19.8 RPG.

Other Saturday notes:

  • Saint Louis held Tyrese Rice to 2-14 from the field in their 53-50 upset over the Eagles
  • UAB (4-0) looks like they can contend in the C-USA after their 77-62 rout at Old Dominion. Robert Vaden had 28 points.
  • Clemson got a hard fought win over Charlotte after Demontez Stitt’s free throws made it a four point game with 16 seconds.
  • Navy outlasted WIlliam & Mary in a 102-99 3OT win.

Top 25 in Action:

  • #3 Louisville’s balanced attack helped them prevail over Morehead State 79-41.
  • #6 Pittsburgh was led by DeJuan Blair’s 27 point, 18 rebound performance vs. Indiana (PA)
  • #10 Purdue held Coppin State to 46 points in their 20 point victory. Hummel had 20 points and 10 rebounds.
  • #14 Oklahoma relied on Blake Griffin’s 35 pt, 21 reb performance to rise above Gardner-Webb 80-76.
  • #17 Marquette struggled with their crosstown rivals Milwaukee in the 1st half, but ended up winning 100-80.
  • #18 Georgetown got 20 points from Greg Monroe in their 81-53 win over Drexel.

NW Wins Horse Trailer Player of the Day: Blake Griffin, Oklahoma

Sunday, 11/23: Sunday’s matchups were much better than Saturday’s, to say the least. #17 Miami and #2 UConn squared off in the first of the Paradise Jam semis. Jim Calhoun and the Huskies proved that they should still be considered one of the best teams in the country despite playing down to weaker competition such as La Salle. Thabeet led the way for the Huskies with 19 points, 14 boards and seven blocks. A.J Price seemed to get back on track with 13 points and 11 rebounds of his own. McClinton gave the ‘Canes 27 points and was 5-8 from beyond the arc. UConn had its way in the paint, outscoring Miami 48-30.

Wisconsin faced San Diego in the second semi of the Paradise Jam. San Diego was a sexy upset pick but Bo Ryan and the Badgers were having none of that. They put on a clinic on the defensive end of the floor, holding the Torreros to just 49 points. Trevon Hughes led the charge for the victorious Badgers with 22 of Wisconsin’s 64 points. Wisconsin will go on to face the Huskies in the finals of the Paradise Jam.

How about the job Sean Miller has done at Xavier? The loss of Josh Duncan and Drew Lavender had people questioning whether the Musketeers could make it back to the dance. Sunday’s win over #12 Memphis will squash whatever doubts there were regarding Xavier while raising some doubts about the Tigers. Derrick Brown, C.J. Anderson and B.J Raymond are three versatile forwards that are good on both ends of the floor. Xavier held Memphis to 32% from the field, but the Tigers didn’t help themselves with their continual woes at the stripe. Calipari can point directly at his team’s free throw percentage of 50% last night as the reason the Tigers didn’t win the game. Xavier completed their dramatic road to the Puerto Rico Tip-off finals with a nice resume win.

Missouri pulled off a big win against #19 USC in the consolation half of the Puerto RIco bracket. Demarre Carroll had 29 points off of 11-17 FG and 11 rebounds. The Tigers nearly shot 50% from the field but allowed the Trojans to shoot 46%. Missouri did a great job of neutralizing DeMar Derozan who was just 2-9 from the field with 8 points. Daniel Hackett had 11 points but committed eight turnovers. USC has not looked impressive in the least bit so far this season.

Seton Hall handed Virginia Tech their second loss of the season after beating the Hokies 77-73. The Hall outscored VIrginia Tech by 10 in the second half. Jeremy Hazell, who has looked great to start off the season, had 23 points to lead the Pirates. Robert Mitchell’s 15 and Paul Gause’s 14 also made up for an off night from team leader Eugene Harvey. A.D. Vassallo and Malcolm Delaney combined for 47 points in their losing effort.

Top 25 in Action:

  • #2 UConn blew past the Hurricanes 76-63 to advance to the Paradise Jam finals.
  • #3 Louisville demolished South Alabama 81-54 in the Billy Minardi Classic.
  • #5 Duke took care of Montana by a score of 78-58 despite the loss of Greg Paulus.
  • #12 Memphis’ woes at the stripe cost them again in their loss to Xavier.
  • #15 Arizona State was led by James Harden’s 33 points and 12 boards in their 61-40 W over Pepperdine.
  • #20 USC fell victim to the upset bug in their 72-83 loss to Mizzou.
  • #22 Wisconsin thwarted San Diego 64-49. Bo Ryan is still working his magic.

NW Wins Horse-Trailer Player of the Day: James Harden, Arizona State

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

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)

Posted in Top Ten Games of the Week | 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

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