Monday, November 17, 2008

Big Ten 2008-09 College Basketball Preview

Predicted Order of Finish

In what looks to be a bit of a down year for the Big Ten, there is some strength at the top of the order. While Indiana is down and out for now, their fellow Hoosiers in West Lafayette have high hopes, and perennial Big Ten contender Michigan State looks as strong as they have been since their Final Four teams at the end of the last century.

1. Michigan State – While Drew Neitzel, the face of the Spartans for the last few years, is no longer around, plenty of veteran leadership plus a couple key newcomers make the Spartans a strong Final Four contender.

2. Purdue – The Baby Boilers are growing up, and they will be a tough out for all comers.

3. Wisconsin – It may not always be pretty for Bo Ryan’s club, but it will never be easy for Badger opponents.

4. Ohio State – Another year, another highly touted freshman center for Thad Matta and the Buckeyes. This year’s edition, BJ Mullens, will need to anchor an otherwise thin frontcourt.

5. Minnesota – Tubby Smith has only been in town for a year, but already the Gophers are reaping the benefits, in strong recruiting classes, more fan support and stronger fundamentals.

6. Michigan – While John Beilein will still field an undertalented bunch, the Wolverines should improve based mostly on more familiarity with the Beilein offense.

7. Illinois – While brighter days are on the horizon for the Illini, this year promises continued tough sledding.

8. Iowa – An infusion of six new players into Iowa City won’t keep Todd Lickliter’s team from a lower division finish.

9. Northwestern – Five freshman will make this Wildcat team a bigger and better squad. But there is still a long way to go.

10. Penn State – The combination of an undersized frontcourt and an underachieving backcourt could spell the end of Ed DeChellis’ run at Penn State.

11. Indiana – Tom Crean gets a pass this year. However, while the Hoosiers lack the talent to be a contender in the Big Ten, Crean will have them competing on a nightly basis.

Preseason All-Conference
First Team
PG Kalin Lucas So Michigan State
SG Manny Harris So Michigan
SF Jamelle Cornley Sr Penn State
SF Robbie Hummell So Purdue
PF Marcus Landry Sr Wisconsin

Second Team
PG Demetri McCamey So Illinois
PG Trevon Hughes Jr Wisconsin
SF Raymar Morgan Jr Michigan State
SF David Lighty Jr Ohio State
C BJ Mullens Fr Ohio State

Third Team
SG Evan Turner So Ohio State
SG E’Twaun Morre So Purdue
PF Cyrus Tate Sr Iowa
C Goran Suton Sr Michigan State
C JaJuan Johnson So Purdue

All Freshman Team
PG Verdell Jones Indiana
PF Delvon Roe Michigan State
PF Colton Iverson Minnesota
C Ralph Sampson III Minnesota
C BJ Mullens Ohio State

Preseason Tournament Tie-Ins

Indiana – Maui Invitational
Possible Opponents: Notre Dame, St. Joe’s/Texas, Oregon/Alabama

Iowa – Las Vegas Invitational
Possible Opponents: Kentucky, Kansas State, West Virginia

Michigan – Coaches vs. Cancer
Possible Opponents: UCLA, Southern Illinois/Duke

Michigan State – Old Spice
Possible Opponents: Maryland, Oklahoma St/Gonzaga, Wichita State/Georgetown/Siena/Tennessee

Purdue – NIT Season Tip-Off
Possible Opponents: Eastern Michigan, Georgia, Boston College/St. John’s, Oklahoma/Davidson/Arizona

Wisconsin – Paradise Jam
Potential Opponents: Iona, San Diego, UConn/Miami

Top 10 Non- Conference Games

12/2 Ohio State @ Miami
Not that anyone expects the Big Ten to win the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, but if there is a way the Big Ten gets it done, road games like this must go the Big Ten’s way.

12/2 Duke @ Purdue
A matchup of teams with March dreams in early December.

12/3 North Carolina @ Michigan State
Sure, the Big Ten/ACC Challenge will probably be decided by the time this game tips off, but this should be a phenomenal game, even if Tyler Hansbrough doesn’t play.

12/6 Ohio State @ Notre Dame
A nice Midwestern matchup that will give us a good measuring stick for B.J. Mullens’ progress.

12/6 Wisconsin @ Marquette
A big Wisconsin rivalry should provide a contrast of styles.

12/20 Michigan State @ Texas
Tough road trip for Izzo’s Spartans that will go a long way towards determining how the Big Ten is regarded nationwide.

12/20 Louisville @ Minnesota
Tubby Smith hosts an old rival, and Minnesota’s freshman get a big test.

12/23 Texas @ Wisconsin
Texas’ 2nd battle with a Big Ten foe in less than a week, this one on unfamiliar turf.

12/27 West Virginia @ Ohio State
The Buckeye’s host Huggins’ Mountaineers just before both schools prepare for conferene play.

1/10 Kansas @ Michigan State
A great little interconference treat just after conference play has begun.

Predicted NCAA Tournament Invites (4):

Michigan State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Ohio State

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