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Big Ten Basketball Preview and Predictions

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Staff predictions for the upcoming shootyhoops season.

Syracuse v Michigan State Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

All the leaves are brown,

And the sky is grey.

- California Dreamin by The Mamas & the Papas

Yes, it’s that most wonderful time of the year when all the Indiana and Maryland fans completely drop out of football and turn their eyes toward their true love. Basketball is back! Everyone had a great summer. The freshman are all going to contribute immediately, the returners all gained/lost weight, and are in the best shapes of their lives. Coaches put a lot of emphasis on their deficiencies from last year, and summer practice was phenomenal.

We’re going to get some more thorough team-by-team previews as the season gets rolling, but on the opening day, we want to get you our expert opinions on how every team is going to do this year.

So let’s get to it.

Illinois

Last year was the first year Brad Underwood failed to make the NCAA Tournament as a head coach. There was a LOT of turnover, and the front court is a bit lacking. But they play fast, will get a ton of turnovers and fast breaks, and should be a fun watch.

Thump: This Illini team is certainly going to be interesting. Early indications are that freshman point guard Ayo Dosunmu has taken control of this offense like a veteran leader, and if this is true then there’s the potential for explosive scoring if Trent Frazier finally has someone to set up scoring opportunities for him. This team will try to push tempo and get turnovers in transition, so expect a lot of points to be scored on them as well. I don’t know how good he’ll be, but Giorgi Bezhanishvili should be good for a few fun moments this season; he pumped up the crowd at an exhibition game after getting a technical foul.

Here’s hoping Illinois can make it back to the NIT by virtue of surviving a brutal non-conference and getting close to .500 in Big Ten play.

Poll

How many Big Ten wins?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    <4, watch out, rutger
    (25 votes)
  • 40%
    4-5, The Flyin’ Illini, they ain’t
    (71 votes)
  • 30%
    6-7, What’s Bruce Pearl up to these days?
    (53 votes)
  • 14%
    8+, Screw kool-aid, Imma get me some orange crush!
    (25 votes)
174 votes total Vote Now

Indiana

Hey, have you guys heard about Romeo Langford? Archie Miller is a good coach, Langford is a fantastic talent. Indiana is back!

Candy: Indiana will go exactly as far as Juwan Morgan and Romeo Langford will take them. The rest of the team should solidly fill out the roles they need to take, but there are two clear stars on this team right now, and if both of them stay healthy, a second weekend NCAA trip may be in order.

Poll

How many Big Ten wins for Indiana?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    <10, Bob Knight, blah, blah, blah
    (23 votes)
  • 21%
    10-11, Romeo, Romeo, where for art thou, Romeo?
    (38 votes)
  • 41%
    12-13, I guess we can keep Archie around for another year.
    (74 votes)
  • 11%
    14-15, I’ll be your Juliet
    (21 votes)
  • 13%
    >15, Indiana back!
    (24 votes)
180 votes total Vote Now

Iowa

Is Fran McCaffery on the hot seat? No, not really. Two seasons ago Iowa barely missed out on the tourney, but only lost Peter Jok, and brought in 2 4* recruits. And absolutely tanked. Iowa brings in another 4* recruit in Joe Wieskamp, get a viable backup PG in Connor McCaffery (yes, relation, he redshirted last year). Iowa has no problem putting the ball in the hoop, but defense is another issue. They were about the worst defensive team of any power conference last year. I think they’re much improved and should make it back to the tourney.

Yeah, I’m a bit of a homer, still a bit of spread, though.

Poll

How many Big Ten wins?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    <5, Fire Fran
    (18 votes)
  • 19%
    5-6, about the same as last year
    (31 votes)
  • 29%
    6-7, some improvement, but not enough
    (47 votes)
  • 30%
    8-9, on the right track
    (49 votes)
  • 10%
    10+, Homer-city
    (17 votes)
162 votes total Vote Now

Maryland

They’re Maryland. You mostly know what you’re going to get. They’ll be talented enough to win most of their games, but poorly coached enough to be obviously wasting said talent. They’ll get to the tourney and bow out in the first weekend.

Poll

How many Big Ten wins?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    <10, Can we also afford two giant buy-outs, right?
    (27 votes)
  • 34%
    10-11, I’m just really excited about the new football coach.
    (58 votes)
  • 36%
    12-13, Hey, this year the tourney will be different
    (61 votes)
  • 13%
    14+, Weave and Heave!
    (22 votes)
168 votes total Vote Now

Michigan

Big Ten tourney champs then made it to the National Title game, all on the back of a goofy German. Beilein is a fantastic coach, who has the pieces to run his system. Most Michigan fans don’t actually care, though. They’d readily trade Beilein, and all his success for a single win over OSU in football.

Poll

How many Big Ten Wins

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    <10, I have no idea what I’m talking about
    (8 votes)
  • 4%
    10-11, Things went poorly
    (8 votes)
  • 20%
    12-13, Injuries
    (36 votes)
  • 55%
    14-15, Michigan fans still don’t care
    (96 votes)
  • 14%
    16, Tell me more about this baskets ball
    (25 votes)
173 votes total Vote Now

Michigan State Spartans

Hey, just because some guys they recruited came up in the giant FBI investigation doesn’t mean they’re dirty. They’re completely clean, just ask them. Anyway, they’re going to be good again.

Anton Krzyzewski: Despite losing two lottery picks in Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr., MSU is nonetheless projected near the top of the conference on its returning trio of juniors, Cassius Winston, Josh Langford and Nick Ward. I’m...not sure about those projections, as even all three of those guys maxing out their abilities would still require at least a couple of MSU’s 5-man freshman class to play big roles right away, and none of them are obvious instant impact types. I will hedge that a bit by saying Marcus Bingham could end up doing a credible Jaren Jackson impression at some point. However the season pans out, this should be a top-4 B1G, Sweet Sixteenish type of season.

Poll

How many Big Ten wins

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    <15, Hater or HT
    (48 votes)
  • 47%
    15-16 Death, Taxes, Izzo
    (89 votes)
  • 18%
    17, wait, what?
    (35 votes)
  • 8%
    18+ You realize they lost Bridges AND Jackson?
    (16 votes)
188 votes total Vote Now

Minnesota Golden Gophers

Imagine this, if you will, a Pitino had off the court issues with his team. Hard to believe, and yet 2 of the last 3 seasons did happen. Cockroach blood these guys. Anyway, between the unpleasantness (turns out Reggie Lynch was a Bad Guy(tm) and everyone knew it, but hooray for no consequences!), and injuries the Gophers were bad last year. They’re probably going to be better this year. Also, someone should burn down the barn.

WSR: When Pitino doesn’t have big guys, we’ve been shit. When he does, we’ve been fine. We have big guys this year.

Poll

How many Big Ten wins?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    <5 Maybe they should bring in special assistant, Dick Pitino (it’s just Rick with a mustache).
    (28 votes)
  • 37%
    6-7, about the same
    (61 votes)
  • 28%
    8-10, One more year, one more year!
    (46 votes)
  • 16%
    11+, Hi, Gophers!
    (26 votes)
161 votes total Vote Now

Nebraska Corn Huskers

The accountant got himself off the hot seat last year with a slew of transfers and a 13-5 record in the down conference. Can he sustain the success? The media seem to think so, but we’re a bit more skeptical.

Poll

How many Big Ten wins?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    <7, back to the hot seat.
    (13 votes)
  • 27%
    8-9, slight step back
    (41 votes)
  • 34%
    10-11, not bad
    (51 votes)
  • 30%
    12+ NEBRASKETBALL!
    (45 votes)
150 votes total Vote Now

Northwestern Wildcats

A LOT of ups and downs last season, and jNW was definitely a down. A year after finally breaking through, they came crashing back down. Must have just really missed Sanjay Lumpkin. But they graduated both McIntosh and Lindsey, two major contributors to their major breakthrough two seasons ago.

MNW: Northwestern is back in Welsh-Ryan Arena, but can Chris Collins make the most out of a team with some core contributors but a lot of turnover? Transfers Ryan Taylor (PG-Evansville) and AJ Turner (SF-Boston College) will add some depth and experience to the lineup to complement Vic Law and Dererk Pardon, with Turner likely to provide some real athleticism and scoring.

The excitement for ‘Cats fans will be watching two true freshmen on the wings. Miller Kopp is an exciting shooter who adds nice depth, but...guys, I’m telling you. You’ll see 6’10” freshman Pete Nance hit the court, and you’ll wonder what team this is, because there’s no way Northwestern should have an athlete like that. Pete is of the Larry Nance lineage, and he already has shown flashes. We’re excited.

Ultimately this isn’t an NCAA Tournament team unless they really put it together, but there are some exciting storylines and a beautiful new old home.

Poll

How many Big Ten wins for jNW?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    <5 BRING BACK CARMODY!
    (21 votes)
  • 37%
    5-6 /reads book
    (56 votes)
  • 40%
    7-9, rebuild is officially underway
    (61 votes)
  • 7%
    10+ Collins takes Duke job.
    (11 votes)
149 votes total Vote Now

Ohio State Buckeyes

Oh hey, another surprise team last year. Chris Holtman stepped in and immediately turned OSU back around. There was some talent there that was just floundering a bit, and with a new coach they took off. This may be a bit of a transition year, though, since Holtman got such a late start last year. Quite a bit of disagreement between my colleagues.

Poll

How many Big Ten wins for OSU?

This poll is closed

  • 35%
    <10 Get fucked, OSU
    (50 votes)
  • 37%
    10-11 slight step back
    (52 votes)
  • 20%
    12-13 I have nothing to add
    (29 votes)
  • 6%
    14+ Urbz who? (LOL)
    (9 votes)
140 votes total Vote Now

Penn State Nittany Lions

I’m not sure anyone is ready for a competent Penn State basketball team, so I’m sure they’ll do something to mess this up. They’re hoping that winning the NIT Tourney can catapult them into this season. Pretty wide spread on the predictions, here.

Aaron Yorke: Penn State has only played one exhibition game against West Virginia, but it already looks like freshman guard Myles Dread will be a big contributor on offense, and that will help fill the scoring void left by Tony Carr. Lamar Stevens figures to be the most important player on the team with his ability to score in a number of ways as well as rebound, and it will be interesting to see if another freshman, Rasir Bolton, takes over the starting point guard role from Jamari Wheeler.

If everything breaks right with the new guys, this is a team capable of contending for an NCAA Tournament berth, but the program has recently announced that Mike Watkins will be out indefinitely due to off-court issues. If he misses the whole season, it’s going to be tough for Penn State to protect the rim in conference play. I’m forecasting another deep NIT run, but Penn State could do better if the freshmen are for real or if Watkins returns in time for the new year.

Poll

How many Big Ten wins for Penn State?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    <5 flaming bus jpeg
    (23 votes)
  • 36%
    5-7, Depth going to be an issue.
    (55 votes)
  • 32%
    8-10, Penn State Basketball exists
    (50 votes)
  • 15%
    11+ Mike Watkins is dunking on everyone
    (24 votes)
152 votes total Vote Now

Purdue Boilermakers

It’s the Carson Edwards show, starring Carson Edwards, featuring Carson Edwards, also, there’s Carson Edwards. They also lost a lot from that team last year, and they’re going to replace them with ..../shrug. I’m still sure Painter will defense his way to a top 4 spot in the league.

Boilerman: Have you heard about Carsen Edwards? Because Carsen Edwards is pretty much all you’re going to hear about when it comes to Purdue. The man is worth the hype and is a crazy good talent. That said, basketball is a team game and when you lose four starters to graduation, there’s plenty of reason for concern.

The good thing for the Boilers is what they lose in experience, they make up for in pure athleticism. Nojel Eastern, Matt Haarms, and Ryan Cline will be called upon to step up to starter status. Throw in some talented newbies and this may be Matt Painter’s most athletic team in his tenure in Mackey Arena. There will be plenty of struggles this year as the team figures out how to replace most of its starters. However, I expect Purdue to finish in the Top 6 in the league and make it into the tournament.

Poll

How many Big Ten wins for Purdue?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    <13 FIRE PAINTER!
    (31 votes)
  • 50%
    13-14 FIRE PAINTER!
    (84 votes)
  • 31%
    15+ FIRE PAINTER!
    (52 votes)
167 votes total Vote Now

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

I’m sure Steve Pikiell is a helluva coach. And there’s no question that rutger is much improved. They’ll play defense and rebound well. But make no mistake, they are still very, very bad.

Poll

How many Big Ten wins for rutger?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    0
    (43 votes)
  • 31%
    1-2
    (56 votes)
  • 25%
    3-4
    (45 votes)
  • 19%
    5+ LOL
    (35 votes)
179 votes total Vote Now

wisconsin badgers

Fuck wisconsin.

I’m being told that is not exactly enough. Fine. Brad Davison is a gritty, gutty guard who everyone hates, and will flop his way to leading the country in “charges” taken. Ethan Happ is good, but limited, because he can’t shoot, and get’s exposed a bit, defensively, against more athletic bigs. wisconsin is about all that is wrong with college basketball and should lose every game they play.

Poll

Fuck wisconsin?

This poll is closed

  • 55%
    Fuck wisconsin
    (89 votes)
  • 44%
    Fuck wisconsin
    (72 votes)
161 votes total Vote Now

Basketball is back, folks! Have fun! Except wisconsin.