Friday, November 2, 2012

Compiled 2012-2013 Big Ten Predictions

Every season comes with a flurry of predictions and rankings and this year is no different.  Right now, the best conference in college basketball is the Big Ten and they have received their fair share of preseason rankings and hype.  Well, everybody wants to know the team that will reign victorious at the end of the season.  It's a difficult challenge, but I'm going to be attempting to predict the Big Ten.  I will undoubtedly be wrong by the end of the season, but here's my best guess:

Nebraska Nebraska Cornhuskers--(12th in B1G) This team is going to be horrible.  I'm sorry I have to say it, but it's going to be true.  Will they be horrible by national standards?  No, but they are going to be pummeled by the Big Ten.  The Cornhuskers finished in last place at the end of last year and they've taken significant steps backward from that team.  They not only lost their best players, but they also fired their head coach.  I wouldn't call this a trainwreck because Nebraska is still adjusting to the major challenge of Big Ten basketball, but this is not going to be a pretty year for Nebraska.
Penn State Penn State Nittany Lions--(11th in B1G) This is a team that I think has a chance to develop into a semi decent squad in the coming years.  They are a long way from vying for a Big Ten title, but they have a few pieces to help them get back to respectability.  Point guard Tim Frazier will lead the way again and he should have another big year.  They have a few decent pieces and recruits that should help him out and I definitely like the coaching that has occurred with the Nittany Lions.  They are a team that keeps fighting until the finish and I think they might have a chance at being the Iowa of last season.  Still a doormat to most of the big teams, but they might get an upset here or there.

IllinoisIllinois Fighting Illini--(10th in B1G) This team will be going through a coaching transition this season and nobody is sure what to expect from John Groce.  I think he's a quality coach and will do some big improving with this team, but I just don't see that kind of improvement occuring in one offseason with the loss of Meyers Leonard.  A lot of people are still under the illusion that Illinois was good last year because they were ranked for a significant portion of the season.  Unfortunately, they really weren't very good.  When they got to Big Ten season, they were easily exposed and finished 10th in the Big Ten.  Yes, 10th.  A whole 2 games ahead of Penn State and Nebraska.  Don't expect much improvement just yet.

NorthwesternNorthwestern Wildcats--(9th in B1G) Out of every team in the Big Ten, I think this might be the one that's hardest to predict.  They closely missed the NCAA Tournament last season and lost their best player John Shurna.  They bring back some good weapons with guys like Crawford, but recovering from a major player loss while also trying to improve is tough.  They are attempting to do this with recruiting and several transfers.  The problem is that these are all wildcards.  I think the transfers will help alleviate the loss of Shurna, but I ultimately think they will be about the same or dropoff from last year.

IowaIowa Hawkeyes--(8th in B1G) The Hawkeyes are bringing in what is perhaps their best recruiting class in school history.  Adam Woodbury will probably be the best incoming recruit of their class and I have already picked him to make the All-Big Ten Freshman team.  Iowa also brings back a few weapons from last year's team that was probably a lot better than many expected.  The problem for Iowa is that the Big Ten is extremely deep this year and being improved just isn't going to be good enough to get them to the next level just yet.

Purdue Purdue Boilermakers--(7th in B1G) This will be a vastly different Purdue team than fans have been accustomed to over the previous few (seems more like 10) years.  Hummel is now gone and the Boilermakers are going to have to find a way to get things done without him.  This team was a good one last year, but they never quite had enough to battle with the top teams on a consistent basis.  They are bringing in some good players to accompany guys like Byrd and Johnson, who I expect to have bigger years.  I don't expect huge things for this team, but I do think they will make the NCAA Tournament.
MinnesotaMinnesota Golden Gophers--(6th in B1G) If there's one thing that's exciting for Minnesota in the coming season, it's the return of their big man, Trevor Mbakwe.  I have predicted that he will make the All-Big Ten 1st team and I truly think Minnesota will be set for a big year.  Not championship banner big, but they should finally be able to return to the NCAA Tournament.  They should be dangerous, especially at home and I expect them to have a major upset or two, but ultimately, they aren't going to have enough depth to keep up with the big teams as the year goes on.

Ohio StateOhio State Buckeyes--(5th in B1G) I still have absolutely no idea why the Buckeyes have been receiving so much preseason hype.  I understand they have a proven coach, point guard, and scorer.  However, they have some major holes they have to fill for this year with a lot of unproven talent.  The losses of Sullinger and Buford are going to be significant whether Buckeye fans want to believe it or not.  Along with that, they are hoping to replace them with bench players that were highly touted recruits.  Recruiting rankings are very accurate in general, but if these players were good enough to replace Sullinger and Buford, why have they done nothing significant in their careers?  I severely doubt this team and I think they will be exposed sooner rather than later.

Wisconsin Wisconsin Badgers--(4th in B1G) I had planned on picking this as my "surprise" team for this season, but they have recently suffered several injuries that have the chance to derail their entire season including Gasser, who really needed to step up this year.  I truly think this Wisconsin team is underrated and that Sam Dekker could be the best incoming recruit in the Big Ten.  I do think they could drop back a little, but they will be a dangerous team.  I think they will record at least a couple big victories and will have a solid seeding in March.

Michigan StateMichigan State Spartans--(3rd in B1G) Good ole MSU.  The Spartans are back without their best player in Draymond Green.  The good thing for the Spartans is that they bring back four players who should be starters and Gary Harris, who is going to turn a lot of heads.  I think Dawson is going to be their best player and have predicted him to be All-Big Ten 1st team, but the team is going to take a hit without Green.  I really think Appling is overrated as a point guard and they are going to struggle without Green's ability to "organize" the forces.  Look for a slight dropoff, but MSU will have enough talent to be a good team.

IndianaIndiana Hoosiers--(1st in B1G)  The Hoosiers have already been rated as the #1 team in the preseason rankings.  They also bring back the player that was a unanimous selection for preseason Big Ten Player of the Year.  They are going to be the popular pick for the Big Ten.  Despite this, Indiana has some major problems, especially on the defensive side, that they are going to have to address to turn the corner.  People also forget that Indiana didn't even finish in the Top 4 in the Big Ten last year.  Jumping that much, even given departures, isn't something that's easy.  Regardless, the roster is incredibly deep and talented.  Even if they make mistakes and aren't that consistent, their amazing talent, depth, and home court advantage should be enough to win them a bunch of games.

MichiganMichigan Wolverines--(1st in B1G) I would go into massive depth with Michigan, but I think I have previewed just about everything about this team so far.  Some will call me a "homer" for this pick, but I can't deny what I believe for the Wolverines.  They have the talent, depth, and experience to get the job done again in the Big Ten.  There is no position you can point to on Michigan's roster and believe that it downgraded during the offseason.  Using that argument and the fact that Michigan was better than Indiana last year is enough for me to believe they at least tie.


Of course, I could be wrong about a lot of these picks, but I feel confident about most of them.  If I had to pick a couple wildcards, it would be Northwestern, Iowa, and Wisconsin.  I could see Northwestern improving from where I have them if the transfers contribute a bunch.  I also think Iowa has the ability to be a lot higher if all goes right, but they are really going to need some of their incoming recruits to pan out.  I think Wisconsin could be lower than where I have them, but that's mainly because of injury concerns.  Either way, it should be a big year for the Big Ten and Michigan.

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