Good morning/afternoon/evening! Looking to forget about your miserable football season? If you're a fan of one of these five teams, you probably are. So...OTE wants you to look forward to basketball season! Just one problem: when we OTE basketball writers were looking to divide up the conference into tiers, all of your teams wound up in the bottom tier.
As part of these previews, we'll be providing you a brief look at the upcoming season for each team over the next three days. If you notice that a fan of another team is writing YOUR team's previews, contact that writer and offer to write! You'll have to stop watching the games (do we do that for basketball?), but you get the
money prestige good feeling of writing for Off Tackle Empire!
Additionally, we polled our OTE Basketball staff for their projected records of each team. We'll go in ascending order of wins and supply you with the highs, lows, and average predictions for each squad. To the bottom tier!
Venue: Louis Brown Athletic Center, aka The RAC
Coach: Eddie Jordan, 2nd Year
Average Projected Record: 10-21, 2-16 B1G
High Projection: 14-17, 5-13 || Aaron Yorke
Low Projection: 8-23, 0-18 || Mike Jones
Well, first of all, it's a tragedy that ttfp is ranked above Rutgers.
Senior guard Myles Mack and junior F-C Kadeem Jack return the bulk of Rutgers' scoring from 2013-14. Unfortunately, that was a team that was, how you say, really shitty at basketball. Jack is undersized to play center in the B1G (at 6'9", 235#), but the development of one of two international freshman centers, Shaquille Doorson or Ibrahima Diallo, could take the pressure off Jack inside and allow him to be a scorer. Rutgers will still try to get into shootouts, and they probably aren't going to be successful yet.
I'll admit, I don't know what to make of Rutgers at all. Traveling to Monmouth? Playing every St. Francis they could find outside the elementary school down the street from me? Outside of Mack'n'Jack [my nickname in high school for my inability to get a date despite my best efforts], Rutgers is still thin on proven scorers, and they don't defend well enough yet to crack through in the Big Ten. But opening with Northwestern and Penn State at home will give Eddie Jordan every opportunity to build on his strong recruiting efforts and make some waves in the Big Ten. Oh, and ttfp ttfp ttfp ttfp your mom.
--MNWildcat for (and in the style of?) Ray Ransom
Postseason: 2nd Round CBI (def. Hampton, lost to Siena
Venue: Bryce Jordan Center
Coach: Pat Chambers, 4th Year
Average Projected Record: 15-16, 4-14 B1G
High Projection: 19-12, 6-12 || Aaron Yorke
Low Projection: 4-14, 13-18 || Candystripes for Breakfast, Graham Filler
The two biggest storylines regarding Penn State this season are as follows: Tim Frazier is gone, and everyone else is back. Penn State fans are hoping that the experienced added to star guard D.J. Newbill and the mess of a frontcourt can make up for the point guard leaving. So far, all we've got is Newbill being left off of a bunch of "Top 100" lists, which has led to some rage from Lions fans.
Does this mean that Newbill is underrated? That he's going to play with a chip on his shoulder? Maybe. What it really means is that Penn State is no good at basketball or at getting attention. There's some hope that that changes in 2014-15. Newbill appears good enough to make the leap to First Team All-Big Ten, and Devin Foster has been imported from junior college to provide an experienced hand at the point. If Ross Travis can add a scoring touch to his already dominant rebounding ability, this team may approach 20 wins.
Venue: Welsh-Ryan Arena
Coach: Chris Collins, 2nd Year
Average Projected Record: 15-16, 5-13 B1G
High Projection: 16-15, 6-12 || MNWildcat, Coach J
Low Projection: 14-17, 3-15 || Candystripes for Breakfast
Hope springs eternal in Evanston, and this year's class of freshmen who will see the court--Bryant McIntosh, Vic Law, Scottie Lindsey, Gavin Skelly, and perhaps Johnnie Vassar--have Northwestern fans believing that the NCAA Tournament is (once again) a matter of when, not if. Chris Collins wants depth and versatility out of his players, and while the cynic in me says that we've been waiting for depth since, like 100 BC (Before Carmody), he looks to be finding it.
McIntosh looks to be the starter at PG for 2014-15, replacing Dave Sobolewski, who will no doubt still come on to have a career game against Iowa. McIntosh will allow senior JerShon Cobb and junior Tre Demps to settle into their roles as slasher and shooter. Alex Olah has lost weight and added muscle, hopefully indicative of a breakout season in the paint. And Vic Law. Dude can ball. (That's a really weird sentence to write in a Northwestern preview.) He's going to be an exciting young kid to watch with his ability to get up the court and score.
Collins is still playing with house money. Short of getting all his recruits in, in 2013-14 he showed no problem to slow games down with defense, dropping NU to 344th in Kenpom's AdjT. This year, more scoring and a light non-conference should lead the 'Cats into a position where 11-12 non-conference wins, while still a bit lofty, will seem firmly within reach. Double-digit non-con wins and six B1G wins should vault the 'Cats at least into CBI territory, if not put them in the NIT conversation.
Last Year: 15-17, 5-13 B1G
Venue: Mackey Arena
Coach: Matt Painter, 10th Year
Average Projected Record: 16-15, 7-11 B1G
High Projection: 18-13, 8-10 || Candystripes for Breakfast, babaoreally
Low Projection: 15-16, 6-12 || Aaron Yorke, Mike Jones
Purdue didn't do so well last year, aside from a win over Indiana. PG Ronnie Johnson, one of the best players on the team, transferred to Houston after the season. There were rumblings about discord in the locker room and whatnot, and the Boilers are hoping those problems are behind them in 2014.
AJ Hammons is still a big guy with good hands and great-shot blocking ability. Consistency and staying out of foul trouble have been problems for him throughout his career; we'll see how he does with them this season. I'm not going to do the research to find out, but newcomer Isaac Haas might be the tallest player in the conference at 7'2".
There are five freshmen on the team and graduate transfer PG Jon Ocetus. Hopefully, the infusion of fresh blood, and addition by subtraction will be enough to get Purdue into the tourney this season. They have looked good in their two exhibition games, but that doesn't mean a whole lot. The talent is there for Purdue to be decent, they just have to put it together and win some games.
10. Indiana Hoosiers
Last Year: 17-15, 7-11 B1G
Postseason: none. "We're Indiana. We don't go to the CBI."
Venue: Assembly Hall
Coach: Tom Crean, 7th Year
Average Projected Record: 17-14, 7-11 B1G
High Projection: 19-12, 9-9 B1G || Candystripes for Breakfast
Low Projection: 15-16, 6-12|| Aaron Yorke, Jesse Collins
The last few weeks of the offseason were not particularly kind to the Hoosiers. Crashes, suspensions, and plenty of nagging injuries mean this team is far from 100% to start the year. However, should they be able to get almost everyone back and ready for conference play, they could make some noise in a year where most of the country doesn’t expect anything from them (see: their inclusion in this article, among other things). Even though people are going to be calling for Tom Crean’s head for most of the year, if he can get this team above .500 and have a shot at an at-large bid in the NCAAs or NIT, he might just make it to next year as IU’s head coach. If James Blackmon Jr. and some of the other talented freshman step up like we hope they will, that may not be much of a concern.
On a more serious note, all of Hoosier Nation is wishing Devin Davis a speedy recovery, whatever that may mean for his basketball future. If that means taking this entire year off (or more) to get healthy, that’s what needs to be done. Good luck, and get well soon, DD.
-Candystripes for Breakfast