Dec 30, 2012, 9:07 PM EDT
Conference play is right around the corner, so to help you get out of that post-holiday haze, we’ll be catching you up on all the happenings in the country’s top 12 conferences. Here’s our Big Ten Conference Catchup:
Favorites: Michigan and Indiana
At this point, it’s almost impossible to delineate between the Hoosiers and the Wolverines. They are unquestionably two of the top five teams in the country — alongside Duke, Louisville and Kansas (sorry, Syracuse and Arizona) — but, for the same reason that it’s tough to pick a title favorite out of that group, it’s tough to make a choice between the Hoosiers and the Wolverines. Both teams do things well. Both teams do some things poorly. Both teams have an all-american anchoring a roster full of talented role players, but neither team has the kind of talent that sets them apart from the rest of the pack.
Gun to my head, I’m picking Michigan to win the conference. Trey Burke has been that good, they have the kind of athleticism and versatility that is perfect in John Beilein’s system, and I think Indiana’s been bolstered by a weak non-conference resume. Then again, the Hoosiers are actually defending this season and have the nation’s best low-post scorer. Bottom-line: the season finale will be played between these two teams — March 10th at Michigan — and could end up being the best game of the year.
Contenders: I have a tough time seeing anyone other than Michigan or Indiana winning the league, but that’s not because of a lack of quality teams. Ohio State and Michigan State are probably going to end up being the Big Ten’s two biggest challengers, but based on the way that Illinois and Minnesota have played this season, it is impossible to count either team out.
Biggest Surprise: Brandon Paul, Illinois
We expected that Minnesota would be competitive this season, and while I doubt that anyone actually thought they could be a top 15 team at the turn of the year, their success is much less of a surprise than that of Illinois. The Illini look like they have fully bought into what John Groce is selling. A number of their wins have been less-than-impressive, but at the end of the day, a win is a win. Paul, however, has been a revelation. After spending three years as a guy with worlds of potential that was unable to put all the pieces together, Paul is playing like an all-american. He’s become deadly in the pick-and-roll and a much more consistent shooter. The problem? He’s so important to this team than they can struggle when he’s not playing well.
Biggest Disappointment: Purdue
We knew there was going to be a gap between the tournament hopefuls and the rest of the Big Ten, but I don’t think that anyone predicted that the Boilermakers would essentially be written off as a tournament team before December came to a close. Matt Painter’s club has dealt with some injury issues this season and their back court hasn’t progressed like many had expected.
Player of the Year: Trey Burke, Michigan
I’m going with Burke in what is probably the tightest player of the year race in the country. There’s no shortage of talent in the Big Ten this season, but Burke has been the best because of his ability to score and create based on what his team needs at the time. He gets his talented teammates involved early and turns into an assassin down the stretch. His numbers — 17.8 points, 7.4 assists, 1.9 turnovers, 53.6/75.7/38.3 shooting splits — aren’t to shabby either.
Best Freshman: Nik Stauskas, Michigan
No one really talked about Stauskas coming into the season, but he’s absolutely been the best freshman in the Big Ten. The kid simply doesn’t miss when he gets his feet set (he’s shooting 39-69, or 56.5%, from three) but he’s also capable of putting the ball on the floor and getting to the rim, defending and rebounding for a player his size. He’s Zak Novak, only more talented, bigger, and a much better athlete.
- The Big Ten gets eight bids to the big dance. I’m not one to bet against Wisconsin. No one should be. Iowa is a young team that is only going to get better. And given how many good teams there are in the league and how many chances both the Badgers and the Hawkeyes are going to have to notch quality (marquee?) wins, I think their resume ends up being strong enough.
- Shannon Scott becomes Ohio State’s best playmaker by the end of the year. I love Aaron Craft as much as anyone, but Scott is more dynamic and more talented. On a team that needs offensive support for Deshaun Thomas, Scott is a valuable option.
- Tom Izzo’s team struggles in March. Branden Dawson hasn’t made a jump this season. Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix have been inconsistent. I’m not convinced Keith Appling and Gary Harris will be able to carry this team offensively. Will Izzo’s Magic March touch wear off again this season?
Power Rankings (* = tourney team):
3. Michigan State*
4. Ohio State*
12. Penn State
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
May 20, 2013, 4:50 PM EDT
A big announcement came today for Sacred Heart and Conference hoops as a whole as word came out that Dave Bike will retire as head coach after 35 years at the helm. His replacement has apparently already been found in assistant coach Anthony Latina. A news conference is expected sometime next week. Bike took over…
May 20, 2013, 4:15 PM EDT
There may not be a rivalry in all of college basketball more unique than the Battle of the Boulevard, which pits Belmont against Lipscomb, two schools that are located all of 2.7 miles apart on Belmont Boulevard in Nashville, TN. It dates back to 1953, and over the course of the last 60 years, the two…
May 20, 2013, 12:47 PM EDT
Dominic Woodson no longer plans to attend Baylor in the fall, according to multiple reports. Woodson was rated as the No. 80 recruit in the country, and the No. 9 center in the Class of 2013, by Rivals. But with Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson both opting to return to school, and with Rico Gathers…
May 20, 2013, 12:25 PM EDT
Frank Haith has added yet another transfer to his program, as former Baylor wing Deuce Bello will finish up his playing career at Missouri. The news was first reported by Gabe DeArmond of PowerMizzou.com. “I have decided to play for Mizzou,” Bello told DeArmond. “We played them three times while I was at Baylor. I…
May 20, 2013, 12:16 PM EDT
We’ve known that Long Beach State was heading towards some roster upheaval for a few weeks now, but the news will soon become official: five players from last year’s team will not be on the roster next season. The three biggest names: Keala King, Tony Freeland and Deng Deng. They’re 49er careers are caput. A…
May 20, 2013, 11:44 AM EDT
When Steve Alford was hired at UCLA almost two months ago, my initial reaction was one of optimism. Alford had turned New Mexico into the dominant program in a very good Mountain West. Regardless of the post season flameouts that he’s had — he hasn’t made it out of the first weekend of the NCAA…
May 20, 2013, 10:23 AM EDT
Last Tuesday, Andrew Wiggins ended one of the most intriguing recruitments that college hoops has ever seen. Let’s get past the fact that Wiggins is the kind of talent that can change the course of a team’s season. We’re talking about a guy that’s talented enough to do what Kevin Durant did for Texas in…
May 20, 2013, 9:17 AM EDT
It’s official now: Zay Jackson will be returning to the Murray State basketball team next season. That’s according to Andy Katz, who reported on Monday morning that Jackson had practiced with the Racers and earned a 2.75 GPA after spending 49 days in jail. If you’ve forgotten, Jackson was locked up for an incident in…
May 19, 2013, 10:06 PM EDT
Next October head coach Geno Auriemma and the UConn Huskies will begin their quest for a second consecutive (and ninth overall) national title. On Saturday the program continued a streak of sorts, as signee Saniya Chong was named Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year by Parade Magazine. Chong, who hails from Ossining, N.Y., is the…
May 19, 2013, 8:47 PM EDT
On May 8 it was reported by Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com that Marshall’s leading scorer, guard DeAndre Kane, would transfer to Pittsburgh for his senior season after graduating from Marshall. With an average of just over 15 points and seven assists per game last season, Kane would give the Panthers a needed perimeter scorer for…
May 19, 2013, 7:26 PM EDT
One byproduct of conference realignment has been the rebranding of some leagues, mainly to display the charting of a new path. That’s the case for the Sun Belt Conference, which will welcome multiple new members on July 1. The Sun Belt unveiled new primary and secondary logos on Sunday, as well as its new mantra…
May 19, 2013, 6:21 PM EDT
Following the departure of four seniors (not counting guard Jio Fontan) and the decision of center Dewayne Dedmon to enter the 2013 NBA Draft, it’s safe to say that first-year USC head coach Andy Enfield is in need of some front court depth. USC’s most experienced returnee next season will be 7-2 center Omar Oraby,…
May 19, 2013, 5:06 PM EDT
For all the accolades heaped upon Kansas signee Andrew Wiggins (and deservedly so), Parade Magazine went with another player for its 2012-13 Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year. Semi Ojeleye, a Duke signee from Ottawa, Kansas, averaged more than 38 points per game this season while also getting the job done in the classroom to…
Fellow student and fraternity brother charged with disorderly conduct in assault of Brown guard Joseph Sharkey
May 19, 2013, 3:04 PM EDT
The story continues to unfold on the assault of Joseph Sharkey, a sophomore guard on the Brown University baskstball team, who was found in critical condition in the early hours of Sunday morning (May 12th) with an injury to the head. According to the Providence Journal: Dillon J. Ingham, 22 of New York, was charged…
May 19, 2013, 1:47 PM EDT
Steve Donahue and the Boston College Eagles nearly have their non-conference schedule for the upcoming season set in stone. It was recently reported by BC Interruption that Toledo, Sacred Heart, and Philadelphia University were added to the home slate. Not exactly three teams to get overly excited about, especially with Philadelphia U being a sub-Division…
May 19, 2013, 12:29 PM EDT
As teams begin to solidify their non-conference schedules for the 2013-14 season, it has been reported that UCLA will host Alabama next season with the Bruins traveling to Alabama the following year. Anthony Grant may have his best team in next season his fifth in Tuscaloosa even with Trevor Lacey transferring out of the program.…
May 19, 2013, 11:21 AM EDT
When Lipscomb completed their search for a head men’s basketball coach this past Friday evening, it was supposed to represent the end of the coaching carousel for 2013. However, the Bisons poached Casey Alexander from fellow Atlantic Sun school Stetson, so now that leaves the Hatters as the final Division 1 school remaining without a…
May 19, 2013, 10:09 AM EDT
Yesterday, news broke that Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski was in discussions to return as the USA Olympic men’s basketball coach through the Rio 2016 Olympics. On a smaller scale, earlier last week the Providence Journal reported that Providence head coach Ed Cooley will join Marquette head coach Buzz Williams and Tim Ryan, head coach from the College of Central…
May 18, 2013, 7:28 PM EDT
There has been a lot of change at Arizona over the past few months, with several players and even a coach leaving the program. Replacing assistant James Whitford, who became head coach at Ball State, was easy: Wildcat legend Damon Stoudamire came back home to round out the staff. But the personnel situation on the…
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