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

 

 

 

So What’s Changed?

If there’s one thing that is always the same in college sports, it’s that the landscape is always changing.  Coaches take new jobs, players transfer, and schools switch conferences.  Most of this seems to go under the radar due to summer baseball, and NBA free agency taking precedence.  However, come November, College Basketball will be center stage for 5 months.  So why not take the time to catch everyone up on some of the biggest moves to take note of?

Coaching Changes

Butler – Chris Holtmann led Butler to 3 straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including a trip to the Sweet 16 last year.  However, he jumped to take one of the most profound jobs in College Basketball, as Head Coach of The Ohio State University.  His heir?  LaVall Jordan, who played at Butler from 2004-07.  He’ll have to win right away, because Butler has become a yearly contender, so expect Jordan to be on the Hot Seat in no time if things don’t work out.

Ohio State – As mentioned before, Chris Holtmann is the new man in town at Ohio State.  Although he has a proven track record, Thad Matta was one of the most respected coaches in the last 25 years, with a 337-123 record and two final four appearances during his 13 year tenure at Ohio State, so Holtmann will have to earn his stripes all over again.  As for Matta?  Health issues have slowed him down, but he is only 50 years old, so a return in the near future may be a strong possibility.

San Diego State – This one is going to be weird.  Steve Fischer is done coaching for what seemed like an eternity for the Aztecs – since 1999 to be exact.  And the man who helped Kawhi Leonard first get to the national stage will be very tough to replace.  However, Brian Dutcher seems like a good fit, as he helped recruit the Fab-5 under Fischer at Michigan, and followed him to San Diego State.  Dutcher has the experience and mentor ship, but being under the helm as the big boss will be the real test.

Indiana – Hoosier nation should be really happy about this one.  To be fair, Tom Crean wasn’t all that bad for Indiana.  Since he started coaching for the Big Ten powerhouse in 2008, Crean led Indiana to three 25-win seasons, and two Big Ten season titles.  However, he could never get the Hoosiers past the Sweet 16, which just doesn’t sit well with Indiana.  In comes Archie Miller, who may have what it takes to bring Indiana it’s first title since Keith Smart hit “The Shot” against  the Cuse in 1987.  Miller, who had only one season of under 20 wins and an Elite 8 run in only 6 seasons at Dayton brings a lot of firepower to Indiana, something that Hoosier fans need.

Georgetown – The John Thompson III era is officially closed!  He did lead the Hoyas to the Final Four in 2006-07, but since then never got past the second round, and finished with two straight losing seasons.  However, GTown has a right to be excited, as Patrick Ewing comes in, looking to get Georgetown back to their glory days.  The only question with Ewing is how good he will actually be as a coach, but that will all play out in time.  Yes, DC may be back on the map in no time.

Other Notables – Mike Hopkins in at Washington, Mark Gottfried out at North Carolina State.

Transfers

South Florida – The Bulls have had an insane year as far as transfers go.  They lost 2 graduates and 4 regular transfers, and brought in 5 to replace them.  The biggest addition may be Payton Banks from Penn State, who averaged over 10 PPG last season for the Nitany Lions.  However, it is definitely a transition time for USF.

UConn – Connecticut is on this list for the wrong reason, after losing Vance Jackson, Steven Enoch, and top recruit Makai Ashton-Langford to other teams.  They do bring in Antwoine Anderson, a grad transfer from Fordham, but don’t expect this to be enough to propel UConn.

Memphis – Memphis is on here for the same reason as UConn – they lose a lot.  This is mainly Dedric Lawson, who averaged almost 20 PPG for the Tigers last season.

 Duke – Duke won’t sweat this one too much.  Chase Jeter never really worked out for the Blue Devils, but nonetheless, he will be in a new uniform.

Louisville – The Cards add UConn transfer Steven Enoch to an already loaded front-court, just adding to the reasons the they will be competing for a national title come March.

Pittsburgh – Pitt adds Malik Ellison for St. John’s, who should help the guard play for the Panthers.  However, they lose Cameron Johnson as a grad transfer.  Pitt will be fighting for a bubble spot all season long.

Kansas – Kansas adds super scorer Dedric Lawson to the mix, so the Jayhawks won’t be on the way down any time soon.  Bill Self and Co. won’t have much to worry about, so expect Big 12 titles 14 and 15 to be coming soon.

Alabama – The loss of Tevin Mack does hurt Texas, but they do add Mohamed Bamba, so the Longhorns will still be in play for an NCAA birth.  However, Mack will help the Crimson Tide compete in a strong SEC.

Conference Realignments

Wichita State – The AAC hasn’t lived up the whatever expectations it had to begin with.  However, adding Wichita State, a team with Final Four odds, to a conference with UConn, Cincy, and SMU should help the conference in the future.

Valpo – Valpo makes a move from the Horizon to the Missouri Valley.  They won’t replace Wichita State, but the Crusaders will be playing in a tougher conference, which should help them improve.

Obviously this is only a little bit of what will be new for College Basketball in 2017-18.  Of course, rules changes happened too.  One of these may help out Jim Boeheim, as the coaching box has grown from 28 to 38 feet.  Another change includes the shot clock resetting to 20 seconds when the ball is inbounded in the front-court after a foul by the defense.  Soon enough, all of this will be in effect.  Until then, we can only wait for what we hope to be another great College Basketball season.

 

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.