2017 – 2018 BIG TEN BASKETBALL PRESEASON OUTLOOK

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The Big Ten had a ….. well…… surprising year you could say in some ways.  During the 2017 NCAA Tournament, some teams stepped up and some teams stepped out.  Chris Collins proved his coaching worth at Northwestern by leading the Wildcats to the round of 32 in their very first dance. Wisconsin lost a heartbreaker in New York to Florida and Michigan got wiped out by some Ducks. So when it comes to dancing in this years tourney, do not be surprised if you see a few teams from the Midwest doing some Texas two stepping on their way to San Antonio.  Just a word of advice.  If you were to see Northwestern dancing this year, beware Julia Louis Dreyfus still has a son playing named Charlie Hall and she still knows, “The Elaine Dance.”   That’s worth saying, “Go Wildcats!”

By the way, basketball’s road to the biggest dance-off in Texas begins in just 16 days!

 

The Big 10 Preseason Rankings

1.) Michigan State

2.) Northwestern

3.) Purdue

4.) Wisconsin

5.) Minnesota

6.) Iowa

7.) Maryland

8.) Michigan

9.) tie Penn State

9.) tie Illinois

11.) Nebraska

12.) Indiana

13.) Ohio State

14.) Rutgers


Preseason Big 10  All Freshman Team

Jaren Jackson Jr.          6’11          Forward          Michigan State

Mark Aistork                6’5            Guard               Illinois

Darryl Morsell             6’4            Guard               Maryland

Isaiah Washington     6’1            Guard               Minnesota

Jaaron Simmons         6’1            Guard               Michigan


 

Preseason Big 10 Freshman of the Year

Jaren Jackson Jr.          Michigan State


 

Preseason Big 10 All Conference Team

Moritz Wagner           6’11           Forward            Michigan

Ethan Happ                 6’10           Forward            Wisconsin

Miles Bridges              6’7             Guard/Forward    Michgian State

Bryant McIntosh        6’3             Guard                 Northwestern

Nate Mason                 6’2             Guard                 Minnesota


 

Preseason Big 10 Player of the Year

Miles Bridges            Michigan State


 

Preseason Big 10  Defensive Player of the Year

Jaren Jackson Jr.        Michigan

 

Preseason Big 10 Coach of the Year

Chris Collins               Northwestern

 

 

 

COLLEGE BASKETBALL FOR 2017-18: THE TOP 5 NON CONFERENCE GAMES TO WATCH FOR THIS YEAR

College Basketball.  These very simple two words bring to mind many adjectives: passion, enthusiasm, tradition.  In recent weeks, it has also brought about words such as scandal, corruption and probation.  Here is a positive thought though.  The good will always outweigh the bad.  Not everyone has a scandal, not everyone deals in corruption and not every school will be on probation…… we hope not anyway.

There are some very bright, passionate and hard working student-athletes out there getting ready to hit the practice floor preparing to do work like they have in previous years. Some for the last time and some for the very first time.  They prepare to do work so that they can give us the show we love to watch.  From the flatlands in Kansas and Phog Allen Fieldhouse to Cameron Indoor Arena in Durham, the show will be starting soon.

College basketball will be full of great conference rivalry games as always.  Duke vs. UNC, Michigan vs Michigan State, Kansas vs. Oklahoma.  The list continues on and on.  There are some other games though in the early parts of the season that also give notice to all college basketball fans out there.  Those would be the hotly contested non-conference games. The games that may not mean a lot in the conference standings but instead mean the world when it comes to seeding and strength of schedule come NCAA Tournament time.

The following will be a look at the Top 5 non-conference games in college basketball for 2017-2018.

Here are the games garnering honorable mention:

10. November 29, 2017 @ 9pm –

Miami Hurricanes at Minnesota Golden Gophers

The Lowdown – Jim Larranaga heads up a Miami team chalk full of great guards from a conference that could be the best in college basketball hands down.  Minnesota is headed up by Rick Pitino…… Jr.   Coach Richard Pitino has brought back nearly the same team he had last year at Minnesota and they are hungry and looking for more.  How good is this game?  The game could features teams that make deep runs in the NCAA Tournament in March.  Mark it on your calendar.

9. November 29, 2017 @ 9:30pm

Duke Blue Devils at Indiana Hoosiers

The Lowdown – Duke is heading to the Hoosier State.  A state where cornfields grow high and the expectations for the state’s high school and college basketball teams grow higher. Coach K heads to the land where he helped his mentor, Bobby Knight, lead Indiana to a 31-1 season in 1974-75 losing to the Kentucky Wildcats in the Elite Eight after being discharged from the Army a year earlier.  Duke’s only other visit to Indiana was in 2005-06 where they won 75-67 over a then top 20 Indiana team in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.  Indiana may have dropped a bit in terms of their aura of power but Duke needs to remember this date….. December 10, 2011.  The Hoosiers weren’t the power they had once been. Tom Cream was trying to rebuild the mystique…. and then the Kentucky Wildcats and their phenoms rolled in to Assembly Hall. What happens?  An unranked Indiana Hoosier team knocks off the number one team in the nation on a last second shot. The moral of the story?  Duke may have Grayson Allen and a great phenom in freshman Marvin Bagley III, but this is college basketball……….and this……………this is Indiana.  Case closed.

 

8. December 5, 2017 @ 6:00pm

Texas Longhorns at Virginia Commonwealth University Rams

The Lowdown –  People may look at me as crazy as putting this down as an honorable mention game for college basketball’s best non conference games of the year.  You need to remember something though. This isn’t just the Texas Longhorns from Austin, Texas. These are the Texas Longhorns that are coached by Shaka Smart.  The Shaka Smart who literally brought Havoc to Richmond, Virginia and served notice to the country that the VCU Rams where a team people would seriously have to deal with come time for the NCAA Tournament……as noted by the teams run to the Final Four during the 2010-11 season.  Expect emotion and passion to run high and feelings to be mixed before, during and after the game. Even though he left Richmond for Austin, lets hope Shaka Smart gets the great ovation he deserves for all that he did for VCU while he was there.

 

7. December 2, 2017 @ 2:00pm

Wichita State Shockers at Baylor Bears

Scott Drew and Gregg Marshall have quietly built teams that win consistently in their abodes that no one pays much attention to.  So why would this be a must watch game? The Bears return two strong players in Manu Lecomte and Jo Lual-Acuil and the Shockers?  They just return basically their entire team in what could be Marshall’s best team ever in Wichita, Kansas. That’s saying a lot knowing that the team led by Ron Baker could have won a national championship had they not been defeated by the Kentucky Wildcats in what was probably one of the most entertaining college basketball games in the history of the NCAA Tournament. You may not think much of these teams now……but watch…..patiently.  If you follow these teams this year you will understand why these two teams have hype.

 

6. December 16, 2017 @ 2:00pm

Virginia Tech Hokies at Kentucky Wildcats

Another game where people may look at me with the crazy eyes.  Visit a practice at Cassell Coliseum led by Buzz Williams and then tell me if I am crazy.  These aren’t your mom and dad’s Hokies. This isn’t going to be a game where Virginia Tech looks to get a good gate by visiting the hallowed sacred basketball grounds of Rupp Arena in Lexington and leaves with a loss. This will be a dogfight. Everywhere that Buzz Williams has coached, he has left the program better. Much of this is due to his blue collar background at the beginning of his career where he was the manager of a team at a small college and wiped the floors with a towel.  Calipari began his days at Kansas as a volunteer assistant serving food to the players. Calipari has coached in some great programs and won championships but also left some problems. Buzz Williams is not afraid to let you know who he was and where he began. Williams has not won any championships as yet but his teams have always been contenders and eventually made deep NCAA runs. It is actually very refreshing in these days of scandal and corruption. Williams is a strong personality and passionate in his work but he is humble and grounded. Calipari has been in the NBA and while he cares about his players, he will tell them if you want to go to the NBA come to Kentucky.  Calipari makes dreams come true….. Williams is a dream come true. Many people have their own opinions and thoughts on coaching and basketball but if you want to see two very strong personalities in two coaches come out in their team’s play on the court?  Be sure to watch this game……….and don’t be surprised if there is a party in Blacksburg afterwards.

 

THE TOP FIVE NON CONFERENCE GAMES IN COLLEGE BASKETBALL FOR 2017-2018

5.  December 29, 2017 @ 1:00pm

Louisville Cardinals at Kentucky Wildcats

The University of Louisville is dealing with some problems that have arisen as of late. They are not the only school dealing with such issues but they are a school with one of the highest profiles in college basketball.  One reason is because of their Hall of Fame coach, Rick Pitino. We do not know the whole story. All of that will come out soon enough.  This game, though, is one bright spot for the season.  Louisville visits Lexington and Rupp Arena.  In Lexington, Wildcat fans do not give a red bird’s butt about who is coaching at the “other” Kentucky school.  All that matters to Big Blue Nation is that UK wins.  This is the joy and the passion that shines bright from the darkness in college basketball.  The only thing that would make this game better for the two programs would be if it was for a National Championship and not for state bragging rights. That happened about one step short in 2012 when the Cardinals met the Wildcats in the NCAA Final Four and lost 69-61.  Needless to say, if you are a fan of college basketball be sure to tune in and watch this game and the fun that results from it.

 

4. December 5, 2017 @ 7:00pm

Villanova Wildcats vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs in New York City

On paper this may not seem like much of a game. If you are a college basketball fan though you know that these two programs have been apart of the last two NCAA National Championships in Men’s Basketball. Coach Mark Few has built a powerhouse on the outskirts of Spokane and Villanova?  Coach Jay Wright and the Wildcats will more than likely be dedicating this season to the man who also brought a championship to Villanova, Rollie Massimino who died this past August. There will be a lot of emotion and don’t be surprised to see a large throng of people in New York cheer the Wildcats to victory in honor of Coach Massimino. This game will be special to watch.

 

3. December 23, 2017 @ 4:00pm

UCLA Bruins vs. Kentucky Wildcats in New Orleans

Let’s see how many we can get in 30 seconds ok?

“UCLA always has a Ball of fun in basketball!”

“UCLA could have two Balls this year but one dropped and now they just have one.”

Ok….bad jokes aside……we still love you Steve.  We hope you have a Ball this year!  Seriously though, Lonzo Ball was a big loss for the Bruins.  Lonzo nearly took the Bruins to the big ball of the year….the NCAA Championship but ran into a Kentucky team that was bent on repaying the Bruins for the loss they handed them in Rupp Arena.  So I guess you could say that this is the rubber match.  Steve Alford has given UCLA a rebirth of expectations in Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins were a team everyone wanted to have a piece of last year……..most notably because of LaVar Ball.  Lonzo Ball proved himself to be the real deal.  Now UCLA gets to play with another Ball….LiAngelo.  Now whether or not he is the next Lonzo is yet to be decided.  Coach Steve Alford has more ammo in the holster than just LiAngelo.  Alford was able use his Indiana ties to gain the services of 6’7 Kris Wilkes from Indianapolis, a five star forward who chose UCLA over Indiana and Illinois.  And Kentucky, well Calipari just brought in 8 new recruits again….. and sorry….only 6 of them were 5 star not 8.  The other two were just 4 star.  That must really stink for people in Lexington.  I mean come on man! Hamidou Diallo will probably have a breakout year and if he does…… four syllables will ring out….again.  N. B. A. Draft.

Speaking of the draft, the Wildcats had five leave for the NBA Draft and three actually graduated.  So how long will this hurricane of riches keep going for the Wildcats?  I guess until the one and done fad is merely that.  Just a fad that fades away.  For Kentucky though…. the fad is still the main trend.  Let’s hope that all that has been good for the Wildcat program in this day of corruption and scandal in college basketball stays good……..for Wildcat fans….for Big Blue Nation and for college basketball.

And the game?  I would say it will be pretty good.

 

2 (tie). November 14, 2017 @ 9:30pm

Kansas Jayhawks vs. Kentucky Wildcats

The Champions Classic at the United Center, Chicago Illinois

This is a must watch game simply on the names of the teams on the front of the jersey alone. The history and the tradition of the University of Kansas with Phog Allen, Larry Brown and Roy Williams. Now Bill Self is positioning himself as one of the all-time greats in Kansas basketball coaching history.  While Kansas may have lost a great player in Frank Mason III due to graduation, the Jayhawks will be looking for their identity early in the year against a team that will be full of freshmen trying to find their identity.  Needless to say, it is Kansas vs. Kentucky.  Two schools which lead all of college basketball in wins (Kentucky with 2,237 and Kansas second at 2,217)  That alone should have the players eager and ready to defend their traditions whole heartedly.  It will be an early season matchup that is only 43 days away……but it is a matchup that could be a rematch in March if the chips fall right.  Must watch television right here!

2(tie). November 14, 2017 @ 7:00pm

Michigan State Spartans vs. Duke Blue Devils

The Champions Classic at the United Center, Chicago Illinois

This game is the first game of a doubleheader that may should have been the main event. The game features a possible player of the year candidate in Miles Bridges from Michigan State against Grayson Allen and the much much hyped freshman Marvin Bagley III from Duke.  Not to mention two Hall of Fame coaches in Tom Izzo and Mike Krzyzewski and you have the makings of one of the best early season matchups for the year in college basketball.  How good are these teams?  Each of these teams could very easily make a Final Four run come March.  Not much else needs to be talked about here.  This game will be all about watching.  Make sure you do!

 

And the number one non conference game for the year????

  1. The Phil Knight 80 Invitational presented by State Farm

So what is so important about Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, turning 80?

For college basketball fans…its not just about a game……….its Phil Knight’s birthday!

Its about games! Lots and lots of games!  But not just games with regular teams….. these programs have pedigrees. These teams have history.  This is what I call a birthday party for the ages!

During Thanksgiving of this year in November, Phil Knight is throwing himself one heckuva 80th birthday party by hosting the PK80 or as it is called…the Phil Knight Invitational.

 The_Phil_Knight_Invitational

The event will be held in Portland, Oregon from November 23 – November 26, 2017 and will host some of the best programs in college basketball:

Butler, UConn, Duke, Florida, Gonzaga, Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon and Stanford.   Oh…and throw in Texas, Arkansas, DePaul, Portland and Portland State and what do you have?  The best thing during Thanksgiving since turkey legs and NFL football.  March Madness meet November Neuroticism.

If anything else needs to be said….say it on your own time.

In the meantime, let me end this article by saying…..

Happy Birthday to us….Happy Birthday to us……….Phil Knight is my hero……… I hope you  live 80 plus!

39 days and counting!  Lets Go!

 

 

College Basketball’s All Time Team

by Shannon Boy

August 15, 2017

It’s a rainy day here in the mountains of Southwest Virginia.  A day good enough to really think about a question that I was posed with recently.  The question that I was asked was this: “If you had to choose an all time college basketball team, ….. who exactly would you choose?”

Now college basketball….. well….the game of basketball in general is my passion.  It is the game that I have loved from the time I was in elementary school until now.  I spent many a day out behind the house on the newly laid concrete driveway shooting baskets in the sun, in the rain and in the snow.  I spent hot summers playing best of seven 2-on-2 games with my brother and two cousins. I spent days alone in a gym at King University in Bristol, Tennessee shooting baskets to relax my brain before a final exam or a big test.  I spent many days shooting basketball following the death of members of my immediate family and the divorce of my parents to reflect on great memories of the past with my family.  Now as a high school basketball coach these days, I watch a lot of film and look for ways to prepare my teams for the upcoming seasons to be great players as well as great human beings.

What does all this have to do with my picks for college basketball’s all time team? Because for many of the years that I mentioned above, I pretended to be these very players. They were the guys that gave me hope and gave me inspiration not just to be a great basketball player, but to be a great impactful human being in life.  It was their passion for the game that I watched on television that made me want to be apart of this beautiful game and its relevance to being your best in life everyday… in the good days and the bad.

With all this said, I would now like to give to you my All Time College Basketball Team for the Ages.  Now with any team, there will be many others who would be included on this list.  The people on this list are the very ones who to me showed me the greatness of the game and what having energy, passion and desire to be the best in life was all about.

My NCAA College Basketball All Time Greatest Team

Guards

Michael Jordan (University of North Carolina)

Ok.  Just saying the greatest isn’t good enough…but back then no one  knew how great he would become. After being cut from his high school varsity team, the man did nothing else but win ACC Freshman of the Year in 1982. The same year that his UNC team faced Georgetown for the National Championship in New Orleans and won the game when on a pass reversal he knocked down the game winning basketball for the Tar Heels and gave Dean Smith his very first national championship.  He didn’t stop there.  He also became a Consensus NCAA First Team All-American his sophomore and junior years at UNC.   Yet having these accolades never stopped him from wanting more. He went on to an NBA career in which he won 6 out of 6 NBA Finals that he played not to mention numerous MVP, NBA First Team Honors and Defensive Player of the Year awards. There is a reason he is the greatest of all time.  His impact and work ethic is endless and it started in his college game.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson (Michigan State)

Do you know the Magic Man? Many people became familiar with him during the 1979 NCAA Tournament Championship Final in which he played against a team from the Hoosier state that was led by some hick from French Lick, Indiana.  Why choose Magic Johnson for this list?  Ok.  He could have went to Indiana and played for Bobby Knight. He could have went to UCLA and continued the Bruins success story, but it just wasn’t time to go to Los Angeles.  Not yet.  He chose Jud Heathcote and the Michigan State Spartans because Coach Heathcote said he could play point guard.  Why is that a big deal?  Ok. You are playing a game in a gym somewhere in America and you see this 6’9 athletic guy coming down the floor at you handling the ball like Bob Cousy.  What do you do?  Exactly.  The Big 10 didn’t know either.  Magic Johnson averaged  17 ppg, 7 rebounds and 7 assists per game in two full years with the Spartans leading them to the Elite Eight and the National Championship respectively.  His impact was not felt just in wins though.  His impact would be felt by his energy, his passion and ability to make the game of basketball fun to watch.  The 1979 National Championship game was the highest watched game of all time and helped give the spark to the March Madness we know today.  Johnson’s impact would not be limited to college. He also would continue his impact in the NBA by being an All NBA First Team, NBA MVP and a 5 time NBA Champion.  Many of those championships of which he would win with the huge help from a rivalry that began in Salt Lake City in the National Championship game.   It was with the help of a bad dude named……..

 

Forwards

Larry Bird (Indiana State)

Coming out of high school, Larry Bird thought he wanted to become a Hoosier and play under Bobby Knight.  Bird wasn’t your average player.  He was a humble homebody.  A guy whose love for the game overcame a lot of personal struggles in his life. He came from a blue-collar life and lived a blue collar lifestyle. Playing at Spring Valley High School, he averaged 31 points, 21 rebounds and 4 assists.  He went to IU for a month and got homesick and came home to French Lick to work some local city jobs before enrolling at Indiana State for his remaining three years. While at Indiana State, he averaged 30 points, 13 rebound and 4 assists a game  and won Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year honors.  This wasn’t just your average Bird.  This Bird helped Indiana State fly under the radar in 1979 and reach a 33-0 record before facing the Magic from Lansing in Salt Lake City, Utah for the championship.  His impact didn’t stop there.  He went on to win many NBA MVP awards as well as NBA First Team and All Defensive Team awards and lead the Celtics to three NBA championships continuing a rivalry against Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers that helped spark a rebirth in the NBA game.

Wilt Chamberlain (Kansas)

The legend of  “Wilt the Stilt” began in Philadelphia at a high school name Overbrook.  He averaged 37 points a game and had three consecutive games in which he scored 74, 78 and 90.  So with all the hoopla that a player such as this would probably generate in the City of Brotherly Love…. what big city or big time place did “The Stilt” go to?  He went to the University of Kansas.  Wheat fields and Phog Allen.  Freshman were unable to play varsity ball in that day so when Wilt took the floor for the first time it was against the Jayhawks varsity basketball team.  Against his older teammates as a freshman, Chamberlain registered 42 points, 29 rebounds and 4 blocks.  Needless to say that when he made his debut on the Jayhawk varsity team a year later as a sophomore, his impact on college basketball was felt immediately.   Chamberlain recorded 52 points and 31 rebounds against Northwestern University smashing the Jayhawks all time records in one game.   He was a First Team All American and the NCAA Tournament MVP in a year that his Jayhawks lost to the North Carolina Tar Heels in the National Championship game. In two years playing for the Jayhawks he averaged 29.9 points and 18.3 rebounds a game totaling nearly 15oo points and 900 rebounds in two years for Kansas.  His impact would not stop in college.  He would go on to lead the NBA in scoring 7 times, win the NBA Championship twice and be solely responsible for the widening of the lane from 12 to 16 feet.  This was not the only change to the game Wilt was responsible for.  When he was in high school, he had a very unique way of shooting free-throws. He would stand at the top of the key, throw the ball up toward the basket, take two steps, jump toward the rim and jam the ball through the net.  This is the reason that players cannot cross the free throw line until the ball hits the rim after they have shot the ball.  Wilt the Stilt….. what a career.

Lew Alcindor (UCLA)

You may know him now as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  But before the change in name, he was Lew Alcindor from New York City.  Before the Skyhook became a household name,  it was him and John Wooden dominating the floor in Pauley Pavilion. Wooden snatched him from New York City in which Alcindor led his high school team to a 79-2 overall record and a national championship finish his junior year and a national runner-up his senior year.  So what all did he do at UCLA?  Not much his freshman year since freshman were ineligible. So for the last three years of his career at UCLA,  he led the Bruins to an 88-2 overall record, was twice named Player of the Year (in 1967 and 1969).  He was a three-time First Team All American from 1967 to 1969. He played on three NCAA basketball champion teams from 1967 to 1969 and was honored as the Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA Tournament (1967, 1968, 1969).  Alcindor was also honored as the very first Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year in 1969.   His impact like the others above would not end there. He would go on to become a 6 time NBA Champion, a 6 time NBA MVP as well as a 19 time NBA All Star and the NBA’s All Time Career Scoring Leader.  His signature goggles look came from an incident in college in which his cornea was scratched and he decided to wear the goggles to prevent further damage to his eyes.

 

Bench Players

Guards

“Pistol” Pete Maravich – (Louisiana State University)

Maravich, like Alcindor and Chamberlain, played in a time when freshman were ineligible to be on their college varsity teams.  On the freshman team at LSU, Maravich began to make his “pistol” like persona a reality in which in averaged 43.6 ppg and totaled 741 points.  Many people do not realize that the school that Maravich first wanted to attend was not LSU….but West Virginia.  His dreams of becoming a Mountaineer did not come about as he was offered a spot at LSU where his dad was the head coach.  So how did it turn out for this guy?  Let us take a look.   He was a 3 time NCAA First Team All-American,  3 time SEC Player of the Year, 3 time NCAA Division I Scoring Leader.  In three years at LSU, he totaled 3,667 points averaging 43, 44 and 44 his sophomore, junior and senior years respectively.  While he may not have had much talent around him at LSU to make a run through the NCAA Tournament, Maravich left his mark on the college game simply by his ability to become as great as he possibly could be as a player and through his ability to make others better in the process.  Many people do not understand the type of player that Maravich was.  It is said that former LSU head coach Dale Brown got out all of the game film of Maravich and his days at LSU and  charted all of the “Pistol’s” shots from long range. Brown stated that had the NCAA had the 3 point line in effect during those days, Maravich would have easily averaged 57 points a game. His impact would not only be left in college.  His game easily translated to the NBA and was ahead of its time.  It was a game in which he was a 5 time NBA All Star, a 2 time NBA First Team and a NBA scoring champion.  Maravich is long overlooked by many people as one of the greatest today but his game highlights and his Homework Basketball would be the stuff of legend in today’s YouTube technology age.  He could easily be one of the starting five on this team for me but with a guy with his great ability, I had him coming off the bench because he could replace anyone.

Oscar Robertson (Cincinnati)

Robertson came to Cincinnati from Crispus Attucks High School in Indiana where he won two straight Indiana State High School Basketball Championships;  a state where there was only one classification and it was winner take all.  While at Cincinnati, he kept winning as he led the Bearcats to a 79-9 overall record and two Final Four appearances.  While he may not have won an NCAA championship, he left the NCAA as its career scoring leader with 2,973 points (until Maravich broke the record at LSU). Robertson also recorded 10 triple doubles while in college and had six games in which he scored 50 or more.  He went on to have a great NBA career and was named as one of its 5o Greatest Players Ever.

 

Forwards

Christian Laettner (Duke)

Laettner may not have gained a lot of fanfare but he did do one thing while at Duke. Win!  While at Duke, Laettner led the Blue Devils to four NCAA Final Fours winning two national championships and a national runner-up finish. He is known as one of the most competitive and clutch Blue Devils to hit the floor in Durham hitting game winning free throws against a powerhouse UNLV team in the national championship game and also hitting last second game winning shots against Connecticut and the Kentucky Wildcats in the famed 1992 East Regional Final in Philadelphia… a game that is regarded as one of the best college basketball games ever played in history.

 

Len Bias (Maryland)

Ok… I am going to make a statement that may make a few people shake their heads but its true.  Had Bias not passed away so soon,  Michael Jordan would not be the only big name we talk about these days.  Len Bias was domination to the college game in his day like LeBron James is to the NBA game today.  Some of Bias games are legendary.  He came to the University of Maryland as a raw talent and left it as someone who people better watch out for.  To put it in the words of the Boston Celtics scout Ed Badger at the time, “He’s maybe the closest thing to Michael Jordan in Chicago right now. I’m not saying he’s as good as Michael Jordan as of today, but he’s an explosive and exciting kind of player like that.”  Now at the time Jordan was just in his second year of playing with the Bulls and making his mark on the league.  Bias would have been a dominating force but we will never know what he could have truly been.  We do know what he was though.  He was a First Team All American in 1986, he was a two-time ACC Player of the Year and First Team ACC in 1985 and 1986.

 

Coaching Staff:

John Wooden (UCLA)

10 time NCAA National Champion in basketball at UCLA

12 NCAA Final Fours

 

Mike Krzyzewski (Duke)

5 time NCAA National Champion in basketball at Duke

12 NCAA Final Fours

 

Dean Smith (North Carolina)

2 time NCAA National Champion in basketball at North Carolina

11 NCAA Final Fours

 

 

Shannon Boy is a high school boys basketball coach at Gate City High School in Southwest Virginia where he will be beginning his 23rd year coaching.  He resides in the mountains of East Tennessee in Kingsport.

 

 

 

Big 10 Ready To Expand Its Presence In The NCAA Tournament This Year

Shannon Boy, NCAAMReview Author

A generation or two ago if you were to ask sports fans about which teams, athletes or coaches were their favorites in the Big 10 Conference you would be sure to hear names such as Woody Hayes, Drew Brees, Joe Paterno, Desmond Howard, Eddie George and so on.

But this is today’s Big 10 Conference and one question you may be counterasked with today is, “Football or basketball?”

Yes… the Big 10 no longer has a giant footprint on the college football world but also on the hardwood.  Today sports fans of the Big 10 can not only remember names from their favorite gridiron days but also the names from the arenas in the winter.

Steve Alford, Damon Bailey, The Fab Five, Magic Johnson, The Badgers, Bobby Knight, Mike Conley and Draymond Green just to name a few.

There is no denying what time of year it is in the Big 10 right now. On September 2, 2017, the passion that defines college football in the Big House, Beaver Stadium, Camp Randall and Ohio Stadium among others will be at a fever pitch.  Soon though (to paraphrase a quote from Game of Thrones and my personal favorite), ‘Winter Will Be Coming….. “.  So who will be the names that will be rolling off the tongues of many diehard hoop fans this season when winter does come?

Big 10 Preview:

The Contenders

2016-17 finish –  #1

Purdue Boilermakers

If it is something that the Boilermakers will not be lacking it is height. This year’s returning team is stacked with seven players over 6’4 and four of those over 6’8.  Purdue has always been known for intensity since the days of Gene Keady and now with coach Matt Painter at the helm, nothing has really changed. The Boilermakers will be sure to look to attack the rim over and over by sheer power on the interior while bringing huge basket protection with great length on the defensive end.

 

2016-17 finish – #2

Wisconsin Badgers

Wisconsin had 13 players on the roster last year who were not seniors and all but two of them were rookies and sophs.  So in a season that saw them lose to Florida in the Sweet 16 on a 4 second sprint up the floor on a floating 3 pointer by guard Chris Chiozza in OT, it would be a safe bet to be sure that the Badgers want nothing more than to make sure that they come into the season with a united mindset of taking care of business in regulation.  Lets also make it known that one of the mainstays for the Big 10 Conference in the NCAA Tourney the past few years has been the Badgers.  Tough, gritty and a hit you in the mouth attitude has propelled them into basketball’s elites of teams you really don’t want to play.

 

Lets take a look at a short preview of the rest of the teams in the Big 10 and use it as an appetizer for the upcoming season.  Here we go!

Big 10 Conference:

The Contenders Race

Maryland – Coach Mark Turgeon puts a team on a floor every year ready to compete.  Do not overlook the Terps in their quest to gain the top spot in the Big 10 Conference. College Park is as tough a place to play as anywhere.

Michigan State – Coach Tom Izzo.  Does anything else really need to be said? The Spartans are always a tough out in the regular season or the NCAA Tourney.  Fab Frosh Miles Bridges will need to carry a big load, but the Spartans should have enough to make the big dance.

Northwestern – Ok… this is not a typo. Northwestern is a team that does not need to be overlooked. Chris Collins is slowly building a powerhouse in the north and that was evident by the way the Wildcats showed that they belonged in the NCAA Tourney last year. Northwestern was one of, if not the, most exciting teams in the tourney last year.  I mean…they did take National Finalist Gonzaga to the wire.  The Wildcats are for real.

Michigan – Coach Beilein went from the blue and gold of West Virginia and went to the maize and blue of Michigan. What has he done?  Same as in the Mountaineer state…. win!   Michigan is a team that is waiting to break out and become a regular at the top of the Big 10 pack. Look for the Wolverines to be a factor in who wins the day in the Big 10 Conference this year after last years showing in the NCAA Tourney.

 

Works In Progress

Indiana

Coaching changes are always a tough thing no matter how credible of a coach you get. In the Hoosier state, basketball is king…. and queen……and the prince and princesses. Indiana fans are always strong supporters of their teams and diehard fans but they also long for the days when Keith Smart and Isaiah Thomas took them to the promise land.   No matter the coach, coaching transitions will be tough….but beware…. It is Assembly Hall and this isn’t just basketball…..its Indiana!

 

Ohio State

As in Bloomington, there is a coaching change and Thad Matta isn’t just your average Joe.  Thad Matta, just like Tom Crean (the dismissed coach at Indiana) is a winner.  The college coaching business is a tough business and like the music industry…it can be very fickle sometimes. Cue Chris Holtmann. The Buckeyes hired away Coach Holtmann from Butler University.  So what has Holtmann done so far?  Four days in he suspended player Derek Funderburk, but he has also aligned himself with head football coach Urban Meyer in wanting to establish a winning culture at Ohio State.  So while the Buckeyes may be going through some transition times it is clear to see that Coach Holtmann is putting together a culture at Ohio State that is one to be dealt with in the future. Just look at what he did when he stepped in at Butler. Butler hasn’t missed a beat….but they will miss Chris Holtmann.

 

Rutgers

Ok. Rutgers is definitely a work in progress. Their last NCAA Tournament appearance being in 1991, Coach Steve Pikiell took on a task that is equal to the President of the United States getting rid of our trillions of dollars of debt.  But…this is why we love college basketball.  A year before taking the Rutgers job, he took Stony Brook to the NCAA Tourney with a 28-7 record.  So why write so much about the Scarlet Knights?  Coach Pikiell just brought in a 3-star guard from the small mountain town of Gate City, Virginia.  You think Rutgers has mountains to climb?  Gate City was the only opening in the Appalachian Mountain range in the 1700’s that allowed Daniel Boone to head to Kentucky to explore the west and Cumberland Gap. If Daniel Boone doesn’t face down Indian massacres and the death of his son to keep going west who knows how soon our country would have expanded westward. But soon after, everyone else headed west and well… you know what happened next.  So maybe it’s a great omen for the Scarlet Knights to get a small town three star guard who literally flew under the radar with over 40 dunks his junior year and had an over 60 point showing in a regional state tournament game.  Pikiell has also brought in a 4 star recruit Mamadou Doucoure who locks in at a solid 6’9 220, and looks to help out the Rutgers frontcourt.  Let it be known that while they have been near the bottom, the Scarlet Knights are looking to make waves in the Big 10 Conference.