Thursday, November 28, 2013

Big Ten Power Rankings: Non-conference

Big Ten Power Rankings: Non-conference

First of all (I can almost guarantee I forget to add a “second of all” later in this post), I hope you all missed me during these last 8 months.  You are probably thinking, “Hey Mike, I thought you were going to post during football season.  Why did you lie to us and crush our hopes and dreams?”  Well, the answer is simple: Taking an hour of out of my day, every other week, is clearly too much work for a young professional with no life. 

For those of you who are new to the blog, every other week during the college basketball season I rank each Big Ten team while making a few jokes along the way.  My blog has been described by Abraham Lincoln as, “The Trillest thing I have ever read.”  Furthermore, Christopher Walken has deemed it, “a refreshing insight into the inter-workings of the Big Ten Conference.  It is truly an honor to read this blog.”  Anyway, happy Thanksgiving, everyone, or as the critically acclaimed film ThanksKilling so eloquently stated, “Gobble Gobble mother fucker.”  Enjoy the post.

1) Michigan State: Ranked #11 in the country in football and #1 in basketball, I would say it is a pretty good time to be a MSU fan.  If it weren’t for Ohio State (or as Brady Hoke would like to call them, “Err…ummm….errr….Ohio), I would consider MSU to have the best athletic department in the country. 

Anyway, with regards to this year’s basketball team, MSU is absolutely stacked.  State has 4 guys who I would argue are in the top 5 of their respective positions across the country; Keith Appling, Gary Harris, Branden Dawson and Adreian Payne.  Harris, in my opinion, is the best 2 guard in the nation.  MSU is also fairly deep, with 2 guys in Valentine and Trice that would start for a lot of Big Ten teams.  Costello and Schilling provide quality beef upfront, while guys like Gauna, Ellis and Byrd are still trying to crack the playing group. 

At the end of the day, MSU is the best team in the conference, in my opinion. 

2) Ohio State: Just like last year, OSU’s defense will be incredible, but scoring will likely be an issue.  Ohio State’s offense improved a ton last year, however, so maybe that will happen once again.  With the departure of Deshaun Thomas, guys like Lenzelle Smith Jr., LaQuinton Ross and Sam Thompson need to step up to fill the scoring void.  The emergence of Amir Williams should help out as well.  Either way, they will assuredly have member of my All-White Trash Team, which is really the only thing that matters in college basketball.  Congrats to Amedeo Della Valle for his amazing accomplishment. 

3) Wisconsin: The Badgers will do what the Badgers do, and simply be rock solid all year.  Wisconsin continues to prove that White guys can, in fact, jump (and by jump, I mean take charges, hustle, shoot 3s and play with impeccable fundamentals).  All jokes aside, I actually like this particular Wisconsin team a lot.  I can’t believe how much Frank Kaminski improved over the summer, and that is really a credit to Bo Ryan and the rest of the coaching staff.  Those guys get it done every year, and there is something to be said about that kind of consistency. 

4) Michigan: Michigan is going through a pretty rough stretch at the moment.  They have a shitty football team with a lame-duck coach who will be around for at least another year, their president got hammered and gave a half-time speech, and their basketball team has already lost 2 games this season.  That being said, Michigan basketball is clearly on the right path as a program.  Beilein can flat-out coach, and he continues to find quality talent.  Hell, they had a great season last year and will be a top 25 team during the 2013/2014 campaign. 

At the moment, Michigan is simply struggling to adjust to life without Trey Burke, who was one of the best guards to play in the Big Ten in a long time.  Fortunately, they have enough talent to at LEAST be a quality tournament team this year, with the potential to make serious noise again in March. 

5) Iowa: I have a man-crush on Iowa and I have since last year.  It’s not quite on the Brad Pitt level, but probably closer to Rider Strong.  I really just like the pace that they play, as well as the guys on their roster.  Iowa goes a legitimate 10-deep, with a ton of veterans including Roy Devyn Marble, Aaron White, Zack McCabe, and Melsahn Basabe.  Iowa probably won’t contend for a Big Ten title, but they are a lock for the NCAA tournament which will be a huge step for their program. 

6) Indiana: According to IU’s fanbase, you would think they won a national championship last year.  Well, I guess they did win one award.  Tom Crean was given the “Most Claps in a Season” trophy.  He also finished second to Gene Keady in the "Weirdest Hair of All-Time" category.  Congrats Tom. 
Oh yeah, Indiana should be pretty good this year.  It’s tough not to like Yogi Ferrel as a PG, and Noah Vonleh is going to be a lottery pick.  Will Sheehey needs to play like a star this year if they want to make some noise in March. 

7) Illinois: The 6 teams mentioned above are the only “locks” to make the tournament out of the conference.  However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t depth in the Big Ten this year.  Illinois, while not really having any depth, has a solid roster.  Transfers Jon Ekey and Rayvonte Rice have been huge for the Illini, while returners like Joseph Bertrand, Tracy Abrams and Nnanna Egwu have been steady.  Look for Illinois to be a bubble team all year.  No jokes here = no fucks given.

8) Purdue: Not a whole lot to say about Purdue, or the rest of the teams for that matter.  PU will be really average and probably won’t make the tournament.  That said, how about a joke? 

Purdue Football

Wasn’t that a good one? 

(Again, for those of you who are new to the blog, this is where I become a huge asshole).

9) Penn State: In all honesty, I am really rooting for PSU this year.  After Tim Frazier’s unfortunate injury last year, they could use a good season.  They still have the worst fanbase in the conference, and I’ll probably make a few jokes about that as the season progresses. 

10) Minnesota: I have actually watched the Gophers a few times this year, and they are worse than spending Thanksgiving alone (I should have you all know that I am currently spending Thanksgiving alone, and in my self-deprecating state, I thought I would make myself feel worse).  Minnesota sucks, and they are dumb for firing Tubby Smith and hiring a 16 year old kid.  This isn’t the movie Little Big League, this is real life. 

11) Nebraska: I actually like head coach Tim Miles, but this program is as garbage as ever.  No more comments for this crustier-than-the-Krusty-Krab team. 

12) Northwestern: This team is going to be horrible.  Nothing more to say.  Oh, and here is another joke:

Northwestern football. 

Shit, I already used that one.  Fugg it.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

2013/2014 Early Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings

Big Ten 2013-2014
1) Michigan State

Projected Starting Lineup:

G) Keith Appling 6’1” Sr
G) Gary Harris 6’4” Soph
F) Branden Dawson 6’6” Jr
F) Adreian Payne 6’10” Sr
C) Matt Costello 6’9” Soph

Expected Contributors:

G/F) Denzel Valentine 6’5” Soph
G) Travis Trice 6’0” Jr
G) Alvin Ellis 6’4” Fr

2 of:

F) Kenny Kaminski Rs Fr 6’8”
F/C) Alex Gauna Rs Jr 6’9” and
F/C) Gavin Schilling Fr 6’9”
F) Russell Byrd Rs Jr 6'7" 

Comments: Let’s face it, Michigan State is going to be really, really good next season.  In my opinion, there is a clear top 3 heading into 2013/2014, and that short list includes Kentucky, Louisville and MSU.  As long as MSU can stay healthy, which never happened in 2012/2103, they should be in the running for Izzo’s second national championship.

2) Ohio State

Projected Starting Lineup:

G) Aaron Craft 6’2” Sr
G) Lenzelle Smith Jr. 6’4” Sr
F) Sam Thompson 6’7” Jr
F) LaQuinton Ross 6’8” Jr
C) Amir Williams 6’11” Jr

Expected Contributors:

G) Shannon Scott 6’1” Jr
F) Marc Loving 6’8” Fr
C) Trey McDonald 6’8” Jr
G) Kameron Williams 6’2” Fr

Comments: Ohio State will have one of the best defenses in the country, once again, and that should keep them in the top 10-15 nationally all year.  Of course replacing Thomas’s production will be no easy task, but the breakout performances of LaQuinton Ross and Sam Thompson in last year’s tournament should have provided OSU fans with a ton of hope. 

3) Michigan

Projected Starting Lineup:

G) Derrick Walton 6’0” Fr
G) Nik Stauskus 6’6” Soph
G) Zakarie Irvin 6’6” Fr
F) Glenn Robinson III 6’6” Soph
C) Mitch McGary 6’10” Soph

Expected Contributors:

G) Spike Albrecht 5’11” Soph
G) Caris LeVert 6’5” Soph
C) Jordan Morgan 6’8” Sr
F/C) Jon Horford 6’10 Jr

Comments: Michigan will be pretty darn good next year, even with the departures Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr.  Stauskus, Robsinson and McGary are big-time players, and Irvin and Walton should fit in nicely as highly touted freshmen.  In my opinion, MSU, OSU and UM will be the class of the conference next year. 

4) Iowa

Projected Starting Lineup:

G) Mike Gesell 6’1” Soph
G) Roy Devyn Marble 6’6” Sr
F) Melsahn Basabe 6’7” Sr
F) Aaron White 6’8” Jr
C) Adam Woodbury 7’1” Soph

Expected Contributors:

G) Anthony Clemmons 6’1” Soph
G) Josh Oglesby 6’5” Jr
G/F) Zach McCabe 6’7” Sr

Comments: 1) Experience 2) Coaching 3) Talent … In that order.  Iowa returns everyone next year from a team that should have made the tournament.  Marble and White are All-Big Ten caliber players, and I expect their sophomore class to take a big step forward.  Currently, I have Iowa at 4, but it was really hard to differentiate between them, IU and Wisconsin.  I don’t think any of these teams will contend for a Big Ten Title, but they are all locks to make the tournament with the potential to make a run. 

5) Indiana

Projected Starting Lineup:

G) Yogi Ferrell 6’0” Soph
G) Will Sheehey 6’7” Sr
F) Troy Williams 6’6” Fr
F) Jeremey Hollowell 6’8” Soph
C) Noah Vonleh 6’9” Fr

Expected Contributors:

F) Hanner Mosquera-Perea 6’8” Soph
C) Luke Fischer 6’9” Fr
G/F) Collin Hartman 6’6” Fr
G) Stanford Robinson 6’4” Fr
G/F) Devin Davis 6’6” Fr

Comments: IU will be really young next year, but the roster still has talent.  I fully expect Sheehey and Ferrell to take their games to the next level and become All-Big Ten caliber players.  Indiana is difficult to project, however, because of all of their unproven players.  I’ve heard great things about Mosquera-Perea and their 6 incoming freshmen, but it is anyone’s guess as to how good they will be next season. 

6) Wisconsin

Projected Starting Lineup:

G) Traevon Jackson 6’2” Jr
G) Ben Brust 6’1” Sr
G) Josh Gasser 6’3” Jr
F) Sam Dekker 6’7” Soph
C) Frank Kaminski 6’11” Jr

Expected Contributors:

G) George Marshall 5’11” Soph
G) Bronson Koenig 6’3” Fr
F) Nigel Hayes 6’7” Fr
F) Vitto Brown 6’8” Fr

Comments: Yes, I realize that Wisconsin hasn’t finished outside of the top 4 since Bo arrived.  However, last year they were the 5th best team that happened to be lucky enough to play Michigan and Indiana once.  As Bo Ryan teams always are, Wisconsin will be rock solid next year.  It was be interesting to see what Koenig, Hayes, Brown can provide in 2013/2014. 

7) Illinois

Projected Starting Lineup:

G) Tracy Abrams 6’1” Jr
G) Rayvonte Rice 6’4” Jr
F) Joseph Bertrand 6’6” Sr
F) Mike Henry 6’6” Jr
C) Nnanna Egwu 6’11” Jr

Expected Contributors:

F) Jon Ekey 6’7” Sr
G) Jaylon Tate 6’2” Fr
G) Kendrick Nunn 6’3” Fr
G/F) Malcolm Hill 6’5” Fr
C) Austin Colbert 6’9” Fr

Comments: Illinois, Purdue and Penn State, in my opinion, are on the next tier of Big Ten squads.  I think they will all be on the bubble for a tournament bid, with Illinois being the only team on the inside looking out.  I’m really interested to see what Rayvonte Rice and Jon Ekey can provide as transfers, as Illinois will be relying heavily on those two for scoring.  Illinois will also rely on true freshmen to provide some much needed depth. 

8) Purdue

Projected Starting Lineup:

G) Ronnie Johnson 6’0” Soph
G) Terone Johnson 6’2” Sr
F) Kendall Stephens 6’5” Fr
F) Raphael Davis 6’5” Soph
C) A.J. Hammons 7’0” Soph

Expected Contributors:

F) Donnie Hale 6’8” Soph
G) Bryson Scott 6’1” Fr
G/F) Basil Smotherman 6’6” Fr
C) Travis Carroll 6’9” Sr

Comments: Purdue got hit hard with a few transfers, but I expect them to be slightly improved over last year’s bunch.  A.J. Hammons needs to become the dominant force he can be in order for Purdue to get back to the NCAA tournament.  A quality recruiting class is definitely reason for optimism moving forward for the Boilermakers. 

9) Penn State

Projected Starting Lineup:

G) Tim Frazier 6’1” Rs Sr
G) D.J. Newbill 6’4” Jr
G) Jermaine Marshall 6’4” Sr
F) Ross Travis 6’6” Jr
F) John Graham 6’8”Jr

Expected Contributors:

G) Geno Thorpe 6’3” Fr
G) Graham Woodward 6’0” Fr
G) John Johnson 6'1" Rs Soph
F) Brandon Taylor 6’7” Soph 
F) Julian Moore 6'9" Fr

Comments: I really expect Penn State to take a big jump from a year ago.  Tim Frazier, who was PSU’s best player (and one of the better players in the conference) a year ago, will be healthy after missing the entire 2012/2013 season.  While I am not in love with their front court, I think the combo of Frazier, Newbill and Marshall will make PSU dangerous. 

10) Minnesota

Projected Starting Lineup:

G) Andre Hollins 6’1” Jr
G) Austin Hollins 6’4” Sr
G) Joe Coleman 6’4” Jr
F) Oto Osenieks 6’8” Jr
C) Elliot Eliason 6’11” Jr

Expected Contributors:

G) Maverick Ahanmisi 6’2” Sr
G) Daquein McNeil 6’3” Fr
F) Alex Foster 6’8” Fr
C) Maurice Walker 6’10” Jr

Comments: Good to great guard play coupled with poor interior play will be the story of Minnesota’s 2013/2014 campaign.  Under first year coach Richard Pitino, I don’t expect the Gophers to make the tournament, but that doesn’t mean they will be an easy out for Big Ten opponents.  The Hollins duo will have to average 30 or so points combined for Minnesota to make any noise this year.

11) Northwestern

Projected Starting lineup:

G) Dave Sobolewski 6’1” Jr
G) Tre Demps 6’2” Soph
G) Drew Crawford 6’5” Rs Sr
F) Kale Abrahamson 6’7” Soph
C) Alex Olah 7’0” Soph

Expected Contributors:

G) Jershon Cobb 6’5” Rs Jr
F) Mike Turner 6’8” Soph
F) Nate Taphorn 6’7” Fr
G) Sanjay Lumpkin 6’6” Rs Fr

Comments: While the Big Ten won’t be as strong as the top next year, I believe the bottom half will be improved in 2013/2014.  Let’s face it; teams like Northwestern and Penn State were decimated by key players getting injured early in the season.  With the return of Drew Crawford and Jershon Cobb, along with expected improvement from the sophomore class, Northwestern will be greatly improved next season. 

12) Nebraska

Projected Starting Lineup:

G) Benny Parker 5’9” Soph
G) Ray Gallegos 6’2” Sr
G) Savon Shields 6’6” Soph
F) Terran Pettaway 6’6” Rs Soph
C) Walter Pitchford 6’10” Rs Soph

Expected Contributors:

F) David Rivers 6’7” Jr
G) Tai Webster 6’3” Fr
G) Mike Peltz 6’2” Sr
F) Leslie Smith 6’8” JUCO
F) Nick Fuller 6’7” Fr

Comments: Like I said in Northwestern’s blurb, the bottom of the B1G will be stronger next year.  A lot depends on how transfers (Pettaway, Pitchford and Smith) and freshmen (Webster and Fuller) perform, but this Nebraska team should be decent.  I would be shocked if they were in the discussion to make the tournament, but I won’t be surprised if they beat some of the big dogs in the conference.  Look for Savon Shields to have a break-out year for the Huskers.