Tag: Big Ten

2018-2019 Big Ten Preview

Preseason Player of the Year:

Carsen Edwards, Purdue

Preseason All-Conference Team:

Carsen Edwards, Purdue

Ethan Happ, Wisconsin

Juwan Morgan, Indiana

Jordan Murphy, Minnesota

James Palmer, Nebraska

Preseason Newcomer of the Year:

Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois

Projected Order of Finish:

1. Michigan

The national runners-up lost Mo Wagner and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahman, but this blog believes head coach John Beilein knows what to do with what returns. Those returnees are the trio of guards senior Charles Matthews, junior Zavier Simpson and sophomore Jordan Poole. The Wolverines also brings in a top-20 recruiting class featuring Ignas Brazdeikis. Plenty for Michigan to, at least, be one of the top teams in the league.

2. Nebraska

A better non-conference strength of schedule and this team probably would’ve been in the Big Dance last season. They weren’t, but the Cornhuskers have a lot returning from a team that won 13 conference games last season. They’ll be led by seniors James Palmer, a player of the year candidate, and Isaac Copeland as well as junior forward Isaiah Roby. Those three will lead the best Cornhusker team since the 1990’s – a team that will be a threat to win the program’s first ever NCAA tournament game.

3. Michigan St

Last season was one of the strangest in Tom Izzo’s tenure as head coach at Michigan St. From the team being overshadowed by the school’s mishandling of the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal to the team’s early exit from the tournament. Two first-round draft picks in Jaren Jackson and Miles Bridges are gone so it will be up to juniors Cassius Winston, Nick Ward and Joshua Langford to step up. This probably won’t be the best team Izzo has coach, but he’ll probably enjoy not having to answer questions that needed to be asked.

4. Wisconsin

Wisconsin fans are used to winning so last season was such a departure for them. This season should see a return to the tournament because so much of the roster returns including senior forward Ethan Happ, who will be an all-American candidate. Happ is the leader of a lineup that sees its top eight scorers from last season returning. The Badgers look to be back.

5. Indiana

Speaking of teams that could be back, Indiana had an up-and-down season last season, but look to be headed for greener pastures. Coach Archie Miller brought in one of the best recruiting classes in the country led by Indiana high school legend, guard Romeo Langford. He’ll be asked to be a key member of the supporting cast around senior forward Juwan Morgan, who will be one of the best players in America. This program is certainly on an upward trajectory.

6. Purdue

The Boilermakers are at the tail end of the second great run under Matt Painter. They have to find replacements for Isaac Haas, Vince Edwards and Dakota Mathias in a hurry. Fortunately, national player of the year candidate, junior guard Carsen Edwards doesn’t leave the cupboard completely bare. He’ll be plenty good enough to carry the load for Purdue this season.

7. Maryland

With everything going on at Maryland, the start of basketball season has to be a welcome respite. That being said, it better be a good season for head coach Mark Turgeon. He enters this season needing to usher his team to the tournament and the talent is there to do it. Junior guard Anthony Cowan has to be the leader of a team that returns sophomores Darryl Morsell and Bruno Fernando. Five-star freshman Jalen Smith leads an incoming class that also features Aaron Wiggins and Eric Ayala. There will be nowhere to hide if this doesn’t work.

8. Iowa

Head coach Fran McCaffery is going to have to get a better defensive performance out of this team to prevent a repeat of last season’s disappointment. I think he can and with the firepower returning in juniors Jordan Bohannon and Tyler Cook and sophomore Luka Garza. Those three in addition to freshman Joe Wieskamp should have the Hawkeyes in the mix for a NCAA tournament berth.

9. Minnesota

Injuries and other types of roster attrition plagued the Gophers last season. They’re healthy now and there is enough talent here to get back to the NCAA tournament. The story is whether there will be another scandal to derail, not only the season, but also coach Richard Pitino’s tenure at the school. Senior Jordan Murphy will be an awesome weapon for a Minnesota team that could finish much higher than this prediction if everything goes right.

10. Penn St

Tony Carr declaring for the draft is keeping the Nittany Lions from being a top-5 team in this league. He and Shep Garner are huge losses. The cupboard isn’t bare as juniors Lamar Stevens, Mike Watkins and sophomore Josh Reaves return. Freshmen Myles Dread and Rasir Bolton will provide depth and will be great pieces for the future.

11.Northwestern

Two years ago the Wildcats made the program’s first ever NCAA tournament and had people thinking the team would be even better last season. Then the season started and it was clear that people overrated their talent. This season Northwestern will be aided by returning to Welsh-Ryan Arena for home games after playing in Rosemont last season. Seniors Vic Law and Dererk Pardon should be steady hands for head coach Chris Collins.

12. Ohio St

Head coach Chris Holtman put together one of the more surprising seasons in all of college basketball last season. The Buckeyes had no expectations, but led by Keita Bates-Diop and Jae’Sean Tate they earned a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament. They’re both gone and leave a sizable hole to fill. Sophomore forward Kaleb Wesson and senior guard C.J. Jackson will attempt to fill that hole along with freshmen Luther Muhammad and Jaedon LeDee.

13. Illinois

Coach Brad Underwood’s first season was not a good one, but there’s reason to be optimistic here. Sophomore guard Trent Frazier and junior forward Kipper Nichols return to a team that’ll also feature one of the best freshmen in the country in Ayo Dosunmu. It’s a little too soon to expect a tournament run this year for the Illini, but it’s coming.

14. Rutgers

Rutgers gave its fans a glimmer of hope during its run in the Big Ten tournament last season, but the fact of the matter is this team still won’t be competitive in the league this year. Sophomore Geo Baker and Freshman Montez Mathis could be a solid backcourt in the future.

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M…I…Z…Z…O…U

Missouri ‘s Marcus Denmon prepares to pass as Baylor ‘s Perry Jones III defends beneath the basket during the first half of a game that matched the No. 5 Tigers against the No. 3 Bears. Tony Gutierrez/The Associated Press

In a year where it appears that the Big XII has three great teams, the best of the three may be the team on its way out.  The Missouri Tigers are rolling along with only one loss this season and is doing by leaning on its their guard play.

Leading the way for the Tigers is All-American candidate Marcus Denmon who’s averaging over 17 points per game, but he’s getting plenty of help.  Running the point for them is one of the most athletic little guys in the country, Phil “Flip” Pressey with Kim English and Michael Dixon also giving the Tigers help in the backcourt and on the wing.

Missouri can beat you in the paint as well now. Ricardo Ratliffe went toe-to-toe with Baylor’s imposing frontcourt and emerged with 27 points and 8 rebounds in it’s 89-88 win over the Bears on Jan. 21.

The Tigers still have plenty of work to do this season, including another match-up against Baylor and two against Kansas.  However, they look like they’re hear for the long haul.

Stock Up: Big Ten Conference.  The Big Ten looks primed to get close to 75 percent of it’s teams in the NCAA tournament.  That it is an amazing feat.  There are no gimmes in the league this year showing how deep it is from top-to-bottom.  Ohio St looks to be the class of the league, but there’s about seven teams in this conference that can beat anybody on any given night.

Stock Down: Colonial Athletic Association.  It was all good just a year ago.  The CAA got three NCAA tournament bids and VCU fought its way to the Final Four.  That will not happen this year.  The winner of the CAA will be fortunate to be a 13/14 seed.  College basketball is cyclical and every league will have a down year, but the sudden fall for the Colonial has been surprising.

Stock Up: Doug McDermott.  He’s not getting publicity like Jimmer Fredette, but McDermott is putting up huge numbers for the Creighton Blue Jays.  McDermott is averaging 23 points and over eight rebounds a game.  He’s a definite All-American candidate and has Creighton fans thinking back to the days of Kyle Korver.  The scariest thing about McDermott is that he’s a sophomore too.

Stock Down: Syracuse University Athletic Department.  Your team is having a great year and great years should be celebrated…when they’re over.  Someone in Upstate New York thought it was wise to sell “No. 1” and “20-0” t-shirts.  Right now the Orange is neither.  Let’s act like we’ve been there before fellas.

This Week’s Bracket Projections:

Last Four In: BYU, Marshall, NC State, Mississippi
Last Four Out: New Mexico, Colorado St, St. Louis, Wyoming

Good for Games through 1/22

SOUTH

1.Kentucky16.Texas-Arlington/Boston U        Louisville

8.Connecticut9.Southern Mississippi

5.Indiana12.NC State/BYU                     Portland

4.San Diego St13.Middle Tennessee St

6.Wisconsin11.Oregon         Columbus

3.Georgetown14.Valparaiso

7.Murray St10.Xavier          Albuquerque

2.Baylor15.Belmont

WEST

1.Missouri16.UNC-Asheville/Miss Valley St      Omaha

8.Illinois9.Dayton

5.St. Mary’s12.Mississippi/Marshall          Nashville

4.Marquette13.Davidson

6.Cincinnati11.Alabama             Louisville

3.Creighton14.Long Beach St

7.Michigan10.UCF             Greensboro

2.North Carolina15.Norfolk St

EAST

1.Syracuse16.Weber St              Pittsburgh

8.Kansas St9.Temple

5.Gonzaga12.Northwestern                Portland

4.Vanderbilt13.Oral Roberts

6.West Virginia11.Arkansas            Columbus

3.Michigan St14.Nevada

7.Harvard10.California       Greensboro

2.Duke15.Long Island

MIDWEST

1.Ohio St16.Bucknell              Pittsburgh

8.Louisville9.Wichita St

5.Florida St12.Memphis                      Nashville

4.Mississippi St13.Iona

6.Florida11.Purdue           Albuquerque

3.UNLV14.Akron

7.Virginia10.Seton Hall          Omaha

2.Kansas15.George Mason

In Graphical Form