Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Big Ten College Basketball Preseason Predictions

It’s hard to believe, but the college basketball season already gets underway this Friday.
I plan on jumping heavily into basketball once the regular season of football is over, but I thought I would give my preseason picks for the Big Ten today before the season actually begins.
Here is how I look for the Big Ten to play out this year.

1. IndianaThe Hoosiers have the experience and the talent. It was a slow rebuild for Tom Crean, but patience seems to be paying off for Indiana.
2. MichiganThings can go really well for Michigan this year or really poorly. The Wolverines are relying on a lot of new faces, but they are expected to be a talented group of new faces. Hardaway Jr. and Burke will need to stay healthy throughout the season.
3. Michigan StateThe Spartans have a lot of talent, but the loss of Draymond Green will hurt in more ways than one. Leadership issues could lead to struggles during the season. If Nix and Payne take a big step forward in their progression, the Spartans could win the conference.
4. Ohio StateThe loss of Jared Sullinger and William Buford are big for the Buckeyes. They will have to rely more on their defense this year, led by Aaron Craft. I don’t see them being able to consistently win big games in the conference.
5. WisconsinThe Badgers return a solid core from last year but lose their playmaker in Jordan Taylor. Not sure where the points will come from for Wisconsin, but they should be strong defensively once again.
6. MinnesotaThe Golden Gophers could be the dark horse in the Big Ten as they return their top five scoring leaders from last season. The question is, even with the returning talent, do they have the talent that the other teams in the Big Ten have?
7. Purdue – The Boilermakers were hit hard with losing the likes of Robbie Hummel, Lewis Jackson and Ryne Smith. Purdue will be a team that is stronger later in the season as it develops new go-to players.
8. Iowa – The Hawkeyes took a step forward last year and I think that will continue some this year as they threaten to earn a NCAA Tournament bid. Iowa’s concern is not having a lot of depth to work with after losing four players from last year’s squad.
9. Northwestern – Some see Northwestern higher, but the loss of John Shurna will be a lot to overcome. The Wildcats still have some talent, but they don’t have a game-changer like Shurna to turn to. Drew Crawford will attempt to take that role, but I’m not sure he can do it with added defensive focus put on him.
10. IllinoisI like the addition of John Groce as the coach, but he doesn’t have a lot to work with this season at Illinois. Look for the Illini to struggle most of the year, but pull off a few upsets late in the season.
11. Penn StateIt’s hard to say if it’s good news or bad news, but Penn State lost four players from a 12-20 team last season. I see it as the Nittany Lions having little talent, and now, even less depth.

12. NebraskaWhat Nebraska can accomplish in football with a move to the Big Ten, it loses in basketball. The Cornhuskers are a mess of a basketball program. Similar to Penn State, Nebraska lost five players from a 12-18 team. It will be a long year for new coach Tim Miles.

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