Big 10 CBB Preview
There are just 3 teams in college basketball that have at least 13 wins at this point in the season. All 3 of them are in the Big 10. Some of the best players to ever play the game have come from the territory that a majority of Big 10 teams call home. With scores of great basketball being played by Big 10 teams, lets dive into my predictions for the Big 10, including conference play and overall success in the NCAA Tournament in March.
- Michigan State SpartansWas there any doubt that this team would be the #1 team in the Big 10 this season? Denzel Valentine was playing like a man on a mission before his minor knee surgery and Michigan State have not been the same since. He has a hand in everything Sparty does and, upon his return, expect Michigan State to contend heavily for the national title. Oh, and let’s not forget who their coach is. Tom Izzo is the cream of the crop when it comes to basketball coaches and I trust that he can guide his team just as well as anyone.
- Maryland TerrapinsWith Melo Trimble running the show, 5 guys averaging double digit points, a roster so deep that 10 players have played in at least 11 of their 13 games so far, and the emergence of the powerhouse that is Diamond Stone, Maryland looks good. Really good. Oh and let’s just also throw out there that they, as a team, are shooting over 51% from the field and nearly 40% from 3-point land. Their only loss this season was AT North Carolina, and hardly anyone goes into Chapel Hill and comes back out with a victory. I like Maryland to go very far this year and is the odds on favorite to truly contend with Michigan State for the Big 10 title.
- Purdue University BoilermakersGrowing up in Indiana, nobody has ever really given Purdue any recognition when it comes to basketball. And to be fair, they haven’t deserved much. But this year, you’d be a fool to still doubt them. With 2 players over 7 feet tall in Isaac Haas and A.J. Hammons, dynamic guard play, and tough defense, Purdue is looking very impressive this early in the season. Their only loss so far this season has been to Butler, another impressive team from the great(est) state of Indiana. The concern with Purdue is their turnovers, averaging almost 13 a game. But short of that, don’t expect many holes in the Boilermaker team and don’t be surprised to see them in late March still playing.
- Indiana University HoosiersIf you wanna talk about offensive juggernauts, look no further than IU. Averaging 88 points per game, shooting over 53% from the field and 45% from downtown, there is no shortage of points in Bloomington. Yogi Ferrell is an electric point guard who can take over the game and knows how to control the court, and even better is that he can hold on to the ball, only averaging 2.6 turnovers a game. The problem with IU? Tom Crean. What is the world is this man trying to do on defense? He changes from a 2-3 zone to man-to-man to a 1-3-1 zone IN THE SAME PLAY. I don’t know how his players are able to cope with this madness, and if you have actually watched them play, you would be convinced that they simply aren’t. Crean won’t be there by the year’s end but, if by some miracle, he learns how to coach and implement a defense, IU could be a surprise this year.
- Iowa HawkeyesI don’t know about any of you, but at the beginning of the season I would never have pegged Iowa to be a team to be overly concerned about on your schedule. There just isn’t anything at a quick glance that jumps off the page about them. But then you take a deeper look at them and realize how deep of a team they are and their starting 5 are all experienced guys who have experience playing with one another. Low turnover numbers and solid defense will help pick up the slack where their below average shooting numbers let them down. Be careful of Iowa.
- Ohio State BuckeyesThey started off extremely slowly this season losing 4 of their first 6 games. Since then, they have only lost once and have had a huge win over Kentucky at home. However, outside of Kentucky, there have been no significant wins. They are a poor shooting team and turn the ball over quite a bit, but have shown by beating Kentucky that even a blind squirrel finds a nut eventually. Don’t expect them to make the NCAA tournament but a potential NIT run could be in the cards.
- Michigan WolverinesThey’ve beat the teams that they’re supposed to and lost to the teams that gave them true competition. A team decimated by injuries and transfers, there is not a lot looking bright for them outside of the brilliant play of Caris LeVert, who has really taken charge of this team in all aspects. He leads the team in minutes, points, rebounds, and assists per game. Outside of him, there is not much to expect from Michigan this season outside of the occasional close games where LeVert does something special.
- Wisconsin BadgersAfter making it to the Championship game last year, there were high hopes for the Badgers this season. Nigel Hayes is a great player, but he cannot win games for Wisconsin by himself, especially because it seems as though he still struggles with decision making. With graduating a majority of their starters and the now departure of Bo Ryan from the program, it’s hard to think this ship is going anywhere near the right direction. Looks like they’re not the best team in Wisconsin anymore #WeAreMarquette
- Northwestern WildcatsYou’re probably wondering how I have a team that is 13-1 and tied for first in the Big 10 at 9th in the overall standings. Yes, Northwestern has won the games that it is supposed to this season. Yes, their only loss this season has been to North Carolina. But c’mon, it’s Northwestern! They consistently start hot, give people hope for something special, and then crash and burn. That’s their motto. It’s what makes Northwestern, Northwestern. None of their wins have been quality wins, and in these wins against significantly lesser opponents, they still have not put up numbers that would make you believe that they are a quality team. I will gladly admit that I was wrong to rank them this low if they pan out this season, but I’ll take my chances with this one. Plus, I’m still a little salty that they rejected my college application, so I stand by this ranking.
- Illinois Fighting IlliniKendrick Nunn and Malcolm Hill are two of the highest scorers in the Big 10 and you can always count on at least one of them to get buckets. Short of that though, there really isn’t much for Illinois to depend on consistently. No quality wins but it could be possible for Illinois to get a quality win or so.
- Nebraska CornhuskersDeep bench in terms of minutes played, but not so much in terms of their production. I don’t expect much from Nebraska this season. Poor shooting, one dimensional scoring options, and lack of quality opponents in non-conference play won’t help them as the season goes on.They won’t win games against quality opponents but should win the games that they are supposed to.
- Minnesota Golden GophersMuch like Nebraska, they spread the minutes out among a great number of players but the production coming from these players is not balanced. Losing 5 of their last 6 games has them reeling and their conference schedule isn’t going to be forgiving.
- Penn State Nittany LionsTorrid shooting team, no quality wins, and nothing much to report offensively from anyone not named Brandon Taylor. Expect them to be near the bottom of the Big 10.
- Rutgers Scarlet KnightsThey’re doomed to stay near the bottom of the Big 10. It’ll be a race to the bottom between them and Penn State.
Teams to make the NCAA Tournament:
Mich St. , Purdue , Maryland , Iowa , Indiana.
Team that will win the Big 10 regular season:
Team that will win the Big 10 tournament: