Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Big Ten Conference Preview


Player of the Year: Alando Tucker, SF, Wisconsin

Newcomer of the Year: Greg Oden, C, Ohio State

All-Conference Team:
G- Jamar Butler, Ohio State
F- Geary Claxton, Penn State
F- Alando Tucker, Wisconsin
F- Carl Landry, Purdue
F- D.J. White, Indiana

Second Team:
G- Kammron Taylor, Wisconsin
G- Dion Harris, Michigan
G- Adam Haluska, Iowa
G- Drew Neitzel, Michigan State
C- Courtney Sims, Michigan

Third Team:
G- Ron Lewis, Ohio State
G- David Teague, Purdue
F- Jamelle Cornley, Penn State
F- Brian Randle, Illinois
C- Brian Butch, Wisconsin

1. Wisconsin- While Ohio State and their highly-touted group of freshmen are getting most of the hype coming out of the Big Ten, Wisconsin should be the team to beat. The Badgers return four starters, get two players back that only played half of the team's games last year, and also bring in a solid recruiting class. However, any talk about Wisconsin has to start with All-America Alando Tucker. Tucker is one of the best scoring forwards in the country and could be the most versatile scorer in all of college basketball. He's not an outstanding shooter but he has excellent body control and creates mismatches with his size and scoring ability. Look for him to have an even better season than last year. Joining Tucker up front will be former McDonald's All-America Brian Butch. He has yet to live up to the hype he had coming out of high school, but he is a solid post player that developed as the season went on a year ago. Look for him to improve his numbers this season. Rounding out the frontcourt will likely be Jason Chappell. The returning starter is a good role player who provides good rebounding and defense. Off the bench will be Marcus Landry and Greg Stiemsma, who both did not play after the half-way mark of last season. Landry was suspended due to academics, but he could player a major role this year. He had shown flashes of excellence before his suspension, and could breakout this season. Stiemsma left due to personal problems, but he is a quality rebounder and a very good shot-blocker. Joe Krabbenhoft is a very good shooter on the wing. He is also a solid rebounder and passer. In the backcourt, Kammron Taylor leads the way. He is not a natural point guard but he plays that position for the Badgers. Taylor is a very good scorer and one of the team's best three-point shooters. He is also a decent defender and a good passer. His backcourt partner is Michael Flowers. The 6-2 junior played well down the stretch last season, and could carry that over to this season. He is a very good three-point shooter who is also a solid defender. Freshmen Jason Bohannon and Trevon Hughes will provide depth. Bohannon could be a big-time scorer for the Badgers. Prediction: NCAA

2. Ohio State- While the preseason publications and rankings are touting the Buckeyes as a Final Four contender, I don't think they are more than a Sweet Sixteen team at this point. However, once the young players develop, look out. The big man on campus is obviously Greg Oden. The 7-1 freshman has been mentioned in the same breath as Hall of Famers Patrick Ewing, Lew Alcindor, Hakeem Olajuwon, among others. He is expected to immediately dominate the college game. However, he injured his wrist in February and is not likely to play until January. His high school teammate, Mike Conley, also joins the Buckeyes. The 6-1 point guard could start immediately. He is a very good ball-handler and passer. Another McDonald's All-American, Daequan Cook, could make the biggest impact of any of the freshmen. The 6-5 wing is very athletic and is an outstanding scorer. He might have to be the go-to-guy in Oden's absence. Wing David Lighty is another impact freshman. He has a nice inside-outside offensive game. JC transfer Othello Hunter could start right away in the paint with Oden out. He is a very good all-around game and can excel at both ends of the floor. As for the returnees, the backcourt of Jamar Butler and Ron Lewis leads the way. Butler is one of the best point guards in the country and will have to step up his offense this season. He is an excellent distributor who was also a double-figure scorer last season. Moreover, he is a very good three-point shooter and a solid rebounder and defender. Lewis is a pure scorer that will step into the starting lineup after coming off the bench last season. He is a very good all-around point producer who can shoot from the outside as well as drive to the basket. Frontcourt role players Ivan Harris and Matt Terwilliger will have to play extended minutes with Oden out, but they don't do more than provide adequate production down low. Prediction: NCAA

3. Michigan- Is this the year that the Wolverines finally live up to expectations and make the NCAA Tournament? With the return of three starters from a team that made it to the NIT Championship, it looks like it could be. Although one of the starters lost is first-team All-Big Ten guard Daniel Horton, coach Tommy Amaker should be able to get this group to the Big Dance. Dion Harris leads the way. The 6-3 guard will move from the two to the point guard position this season with the loss of Horton. Harris is an excellent three-point shooter and a good scorer and rebounder. He played the point two seasons ago, and should be able to handle it this season. Lester Abram and Ron Coleman will likely start on the wings. Abram has missed the better part of two sason due to injuries, but he is an explosive double-digit scorer when healthy. Coleman was a part-time starter last season. He is an athletic, versatile swingman who can score and rebound well. Sophomores Jeret Smith and Jevohn Shepherd will provide depth. Smith can play the point if Harris can't handle it, while Shepherd is a good contributor. Up front, center Courtney Sims needs to play to his potential. He has the ability to dominate the interior, but has only done it in flashes. He has a variety of post moves and is also a decent rebounder and a very good shot-blocker. He could have a big season. Senior Brent Petway is very athletic and has a non-stop motor on the court. He can rebound and block shots. Off the bench, freshmen Kendric Price and DaShawn Sims will play. Price is a good all-around player, while Sims is an impact freshman. Prediction: NCAA

4. Illinois- The Fighting Illini are an interesting team to analyze heading into the season. Some could overrate them based on their success over the last several years, while others could underrate them as a result of the losses of Dee Brown and James Augustine. Even without those two, though, Illinois still returns ten players from last season. The backcourt will have to replace Brown at the point, but there are two viable options for that position. Chester Frazier saw minutes behind Brown last season, and demonstrated his ability to take care of the ball and be a ballhawk on defense. He is very quick who needs to control the tempo better if he is to start. Dayton transfer Trent Meachem is the other option. He is an outstanding three-point shooter who is also a solid distributor. The wing will feature two excellent long-range gunners. Senior Rich McBride played down the stretch and will develop into one of the go-to-guys this season. Jamar Smith started out hot last season, but cooled down as the year went on. The sophomore is still a prolific shooter. The frontcourt should be solid as well. Brian Randle could become the team's leader. He is an efficient shooter from the floor who does a little bit of everything at both ends of the court. He is a decent scorer and rebounder who is one of the best defensive players in the conference. Shaun Pruitt is a beast in the paint. He made the most of his minutes last season and could become a go-to-player down low. He is extremely efficient shooting the ball. Marcus Arnold is a solid role player who will provide depth. Warren Carter could have a big year. He creates matchup problems with his athleticism and 6-9 size. He can play both forward spots and will see plenty of minutes. Prediction: NCAA

5. Indiana- The Hoosiers come into the season as a team that could finish as high as third in the conference, or as low as eighth. That is because they lose three starters, including Marco Killingsworth and Robert Vaden. However, new coach Kelvin Sampson has plenty of weapons to work with. The go-to-guy will be D.J. White. He only played in five games last season, but should be healthy and ready to play this year. He is a very good interior scorer and a solid rebounder who is one of the best shot-blockers in the conference. He could be one of the best big men in the country this season. Joining him up front will be returnee Ben Allen and JC transfers Mike White and Lance Stemler. Allen is a good long-range shooter, while White and Stemler were JC All-Americans who will make an immediate impact in the frontcourt. The backcourt has several returnees that will fight over minutes. Point guard Earl Calloway played well in the NCAA Tournament, and could develop into a very good player this season. Junior A.J. Ratliff is a good shooter who plays solid defense, while Roderick Wilmont could become an all-conference player this season. He is an excellent defender and athlete who can score and rebound very well. Senior Errek Suhr and freshman Joey Shaw are excellent shooters from the perimeter. Prediction: NCAA

6. Michigan State- This might be the only year you will see the Spartans this low in the preseason, so take notice while you can. MSU loses four starters from last season, including NBA Draft picks Shannon Brown, Maurice Ager, and Paul Davis. However, Tom Izzo has some quality players returning and he also brings in a couple of impact freshmen. Drew Neitzel will have to become the go-to-guy for the Spartans. He has played point guard his entire career, but will need to score more this season if MSU is going to win games. He takes excellent care of the ball and is a very good passer. Moreover, he can shoot the three with efficiency. If he moves to the two, sophomore Travis Walton could run the point. He is a stout defender who is a solid passer and ball-handler. Freshman Isaiah Dahlman and sophomore Maurice Joseph will provide extensive minutes off the bench with the lack of depth MSU will have this season. Dahlman could make an immediate impact. Raymar Morgan will step in on the wing. The 6-7 freshman is a big-time scorer who can also rebound very well. Up front, part-time starter Marquise Gray returns. He is very athletic and is a good rebounder who will need to live up to his potential in order for the Spartans to compete. Centers Drew Naymick and Goran Suton were solid role players throughout their careers, but they will need to provide better rebounding and defense for the Spartans. Suton could be a surprise player this season if his scoring numbers improve. Prediction: NIT

7. Purdue- I pegged Purdue as a sleeper heading into last season, and I did the same again this season. However, once again, unexpected losses could hinder the team. Last year, the outstanding inside-outside duo of guard David Teague and Carl Landry were both lost due to torn ACLs, while point guard Tarrance Crump was suspended and freshman Nate Minnoy was injured halfway through the season. Moreover, Geno Parker and Marcus White were hampered throughout the season, and Korey Spates was kicked off the team. This year, nearly every contributor from last season returns, aside from Minnoy, who left the team before the season due to personal reasons. Landry, finally healthy, could return to his dominant form. He is an excellent scorer and a good rebounder who is one of the best post players in the country. Teague is a very good scorer and defender who can shoot the ball efficiently from deep. Crump will also be welcomed back into the fold. He is an explosive playmaker who can distribute and score at the point. Sophomore Chris Lutz is an excellent shooter who can move over to his natural shooting-guard spot this season with Crump taking over the lead guard position. Guard Marcus Green is another solid performer on the perimeter. Joining Landry up front could be Boston College transfer Gordon Watt. He is a good role player who needs to improve his production. Prediction: NIT

8. Penn State- This could be Penn State's best season in a long time. After several seasons of single-digit wins, the Nittany Lions finished .500 last year, and will likely do better this season. Most of the optimism centers around the forward tandem of Geary Claxton and Jamelle Cornley. Claxton, a 6-5 swingman, is one of the most underrated players in the country. He is an excellent all-around player who could become a first-team all-conference selection this season. He is a very good scorer and one of the best offensive rebounders in the nation. He can also block shots. Cornley was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year last season after posting very impressive numbers during his first year. He could be even better this year. Down low, part-time starter Brandon Hassell and sophomore Milos Bogetic will fight for minutes. Hassell might be the better candidate, but Bogetic is a solid scorer and rebounder. On the perimeter, starters Ben Luber and David Jackson return. Luber is a very good distributor and an outstanding three-point shooter who also takes care of the ball. Jackson contributes in a variety of ways and is a very important part for PSU. Sixth man Mike Walker also returns. He is a good scorer and distributor. Sophomore Danny Morrisey, who sat out lat season with an injury, also returns. Prediction: NIT

9. Iowa- After back-to-back seasons of at least 21 wins, the Hawkeyes will come into this season without three starters from a year ago, including Jeff Horner and Greg Brunner. As a result, they are being somewhat overlooked heading into the season. While I also think they will finish in the bottom half of the Big Ten, I think they could be a sleeper and be competitive every night. Adam Haluska is an excellent all-around scorer who could be poised for a huge year this season. He will be the go-to-guy this year because of the losses, and he could develop into one of the best players in the Big Ten. He is also a solid rebounder and passer. Mike Henderson and Tony Freeman also return on the perimeter. Henderson is an outstanding defender who is also one of the best three-point shooters in the conference, percentage-wise. Look for him to take the next step and become a double-figure scorer this season. Freeman will step in at the point. He is a very good defender and ball-handler who developed as the season went on. Freshman Tyler Smith is expected to have an immediate impact at the forward spot. He is an inside-outside scorer who will likely be one of the top two scoring options for the Hawkeyes. JC transfer Justin Johnson will help off the bench. Up front, JC transfer Cyrus Tate will start right away. He is an outstanding rebounder who will one of the top optins down low. Junior centers Kurt Looby and Seth Gorney will also fight for a starting job. Prediction: No Postseason

10. Minnesota- With the loss of five starters from last season, this could be the final season for Dan Monson with the Golden Gophers. Although he has a winning record with the club, he is seemingly always on the hot seat, and with a lack of proven players this year, it will be a tough go for him. The team's strength will be in the frontcourt. Returnees Spencer Tollackson and Dan Coleman had solid seasons a year ago, but will need to develop into go-to-guys this season. Tollackson is very efficient shooting the ball and is a solid scorer and rebounder, while Coleman is an inside-outside player who could be poised for a big season in the frontcourt. Also returning up front is sophomore Jonathan Williams, who will provide minutes down low. JC transfer Engen Nurumb could be a productive scorer and rebounder. Wings Jamal Abu-Shamala and Brandon Smith played well down the stretch last season. Abu-Shamala is a very good shooter, while Smith is a versatile defender who will fight for a starting job. Oklahoma transfer Lawrence McKenzie will start on the perimeter. He is an outstanding three-point shooter who can handle the ball and distribute if needed. JC transfer Limar Wilson will also fight for a starting job in the backcourt. Prediction: No Postseason

11. Northwestern- The Wildcats have improved the last couple of season, finishing only one game below .500 last season, but they lose the Big Ten's leading scorer Vedran Vukusic, as well as Mohamed Hachad. They don't return anyone that averaged over 8 points per game last season. Tim Doyle is the team's leading returning scorer, rebounder, and assist man. The 6-5 wing is a solid all-around player who needs to increase his scoring this season for the Wildcats. He is extremely versatile. Joining him on the wing will be Craig Moore, who is a very good three-point shooter and could become a go-to-guy this season. Sterling Williams played well throughout last season, but saw decreased playing time down the stretch. Freshmen Jeff Ryan, a 6-8 wing, and Jeremy Nah, a top-rated point guard, will fight for starting jobs on the perimeter. Up front, Ivan Tolic and Vince Scott will be the main returnees. Scott could develop into a serviceable player down low if he improves as expected. Freshman Kevin Coble should make an impact in the frontcourt as well. Prediction: No Postseason


  1. I'm glad we got a full breakdown of the Big West, but only the top 4 teams in the B10. Prioritize my friend, prioritize.

  2. I know...I'm getting it done as we speak. The major conference ones have been slow. You're going to get all the conferences, don't worry.

  3. It's not a big deal. I know you're a student so you get a pass :)

    It would be a good idea though to give 1/2 previews of the mid-majors and full (every team) previews of the bigtime conferences.

  4. thats what im doing...read the big 12 and big ten for examples.

  5. Gotcha. Your 1st comment was easily misunderstood as saying you were going to preview all conferences....not neccessarily all teams. thanks!

  6. Nah, I do an overall conference preview for everyone but the "Big Six", and then I do a team-by-team one for the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, SEC.

  7. i think you undervalue the importance of tubby smith as head coach of the golden gophers...someone with the credentials, tenacity and leadership that he exhibits will not have a 10th place finishing team....despite their talent they are probably a 6th or 7th place team and will bid for an NIT berth

  8. Sorry for my bad english. Thank you so much for your good post. Your post helped me in my college assignment, If you can provide me more details please email me.