Preseason Big Ten power poll

Bloomington Indiana basketball

Michigan State forward Draymond Green posts up Indiana’s Tom Pritchard last season. Chris Howell | Herald-Times

Once the season begins, I’ll do this once a week. Consider this the preseason edition. As always, discuss amongst yourselves in comments.

1. MICHIGAN STATE

Admittedly, this was Purdue’s spot, pre-Robbie Hummel injury. Instead, the team with two-straight Final Four appearances and legitimate hopes of making in three in a row seems like a good place to start.

Yes, the Spartans did lose Chris Allen and Raymar Morgan. But Allen was a continual problem for coach Tom Izzo and Morgan was more of a role player. Keith Appling and Adreian Payne, both freshmen with big upsides, can fill those spots.

Michigan State does return 71.7 percent of its scoring from a year ago, has Kailin Lucas getting healthier by the week, and Durrell Summer seemed to become the man during the NCAA Tournament for this team.

2. OHIO STATE

It’s difficult to overstate just how much Evan Turner meant to Ohio State. He was the yin and the yang, the leader and the scorer, the defender and the passer. But if Thad Matta has proved anything at Ohio State, it’s his ability to keep his team competitive despite constant early defections to the NBA.

This year, that means Jared Sullinger is going to have to be ready to play immediately and play well for the Buckeyes. The 6-foot-9 center can replace Turner as the go-to scoring threat and allow the role players to go about their business.

There is some question as to who will serve as the team’s point guard, with David Lighty, William Buford, Jon Diebler or Aaron Craft all getting a shot. Expect Craft, the 6-foot freshman with an immediate chemistry with many of his fellow freshmen because of AAU ties, to eventually win the job.

3. PURDUE

If there was any advantage to losing Hummel, it is that coach Matt Painter still has the preseason — and a far from challenging nonconference slate — to figure out how to replace Hummel’s contributions.

Obviously, that’s his offensive putout – he was the team’s most efficient offensive player by a long shot last season. JaJuan Johnson does a lot of things well, but he’s best serving as a dirty work guy/third offensive option.

That leaves E’Twaun Moore  to shoulder more of the load, and for possibly freshman Terone Johnson to do the same. Terone Johnson was already thought to be an immediate starter, replacing Chris Kramer. The Boilermakers will also take a hit with the loss of Kramer; the defensive identity will have to be formed in the middle with JaJuan Johnson and the fifth starter (likely Patrick Bade) denying easy shots near the basket.

4. ILLINOIS

Illinois is the classic case of a team that underperformed last season having perhaps unrealistic expectations simply because everyone came back.

Demetri McCamey, Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson all return in the backcourt; and Mike Tisdale, Bill Cole, Mike Davis and Tyler Griffey in the frontcourt. Add in freshmen like guard Crandall Head, wing Jereme Richmond and big man Meyers Leonard, and you have a team that realistically believe it can go to the Sweet 16.

To do that, this team has to get better on defense (it forced just 17.9 turnovers a game last season, 300th in Division I) and also get to the free-throw line more often.

5. WISCONSIN

Wisconsin will miss Trevon Hughes and Jason Bohannon, both of whom graduated.

Expect Jon Leuer to shoulder much of the scoring load this season, getting closer to 18-20 points a game than the 15.4 he averaged last season. Jordan Taylor was a great distributor, and averaged 11.1 points a game during the Big Ten season. Again, that should increase.

To be expected, Bo Ryan did not recruit a star recruiting class with four three-star prospects. Big man Evan Anderson, who stands at 6-foot-11, has gotten high marks for his work in the weight room.

6. MINNESOTA

Minnesota, maybe more so than any other team, could rise into the top group or the fall into the bottom half. How much can Rodney Williams develop? What will the Gophers get out of Trevor Mbakwe?

There’s not a clear-cut dominant player at this point, though Williams could become that guy. But there’s enough depth for Tubby Smith to put together a season that ends in the NCAA Tournament.

7. INDIANA

Indiana has to improve on the defensive end. With Verdell Jones, Maurice Creek and Christian Watford on the roster, plus a lot of offensive role players, the Hoosiers can find a way to score points.

How much the Hoosiers can get better defensively may come down to players like Jordan Hulls, Derek Elston and Guy-Marc Michel. The first two struggled on that end last season but are said to be improving, while a productive Michel would give the Hoosiers a dominant big man around the basket.

8. NORTHWESTERN

John Shurna exploded last season and his play with the USA Select team got him noticed nationally. And Juice Thompson is back for his senior season.

I just wonder how much better the Wildcats will be than last season’s 20 wins, and if other teams get better how that will affect them.

9. MICHIGAN

With Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims both departed, the Wolverines enter the season without their two most productive players by far from 2009-10.

Zach Novak, Stu Douglass and Tim Hardaway Jr. are going to have shoulder the scoring load, but the first two have not shown that ability thus far in their careers and the third is a freshman.

10. PENN STATE

Talor Battle is back, so the Nittany Lions do have some redeeming value. And David Jackson was an underrated player in terms of offensive efficiency last season.

But there’s just not enough talent here to win many games in the Big Ten.

11. IOWA

Fran McCaffery had a nice run at UNC-Greensboro, and he became a national name with Siena’s NCAA Tournament success. But this is a long-term rebuilding project at Iowa.

There’s just not enough talent here, with a few role players like Matt Gatens and Cully Payne having to become go-to players.

18 comments

  1. I never thought I would feel like #7 is pretty good for pre season. I was sick of seeing IU 9,10, or 11 the last two years!!!

  2. Nice effort, Hugh. I politely disagree with a few key points here.

    Ohio State- a bit overrated, I think. The tough thing about losing Turner is he was basically did the work of a star point guard and a star power forward. Sullinger can replace half of that, but I’m dubious about OSU being able to get through the conference schedule relying on a freshman and a bunch of wings for their point guard work. William Buford should keep them in the top 5, tho.

    Indiana/Northwestern- the problem here is that while IU should be ready for a big step up, but I could see the Hoosiers supplanting Minnesota before they could take NU. Hulls dropped 8 threes(!) in the Hoosiers’ final home game, and they still needed OT to avoid a sweep by the Wildcats. NU promptly went out and solved the Hoosiers in the Big Ten Tourney, proving the win was more of a fluke than any serving of notice. Furthermore, NU returns almost everyone from last year’s team, as well as a former starter in Jeff Ryan on the wing. I think it’s more likely that we’ll see the Hoosiers in the 8/9 Big Ten Tourney alongside…

    Penn State- The Nittany Lions were the “unluckiest” team in the conference last year, losing 7 games by three points or less. In conference they lost a -lot- of close games, so that PSU’s per-possession efficiency margin* was much more in line with NU than Iowa or Indiana. This despite PSU being one win behind the Hoosiers at the end of conference play. Now I do think IU will be slightly better than PSU, but both should be significantly better than Michigan (or Iowa).

    *Efficiency margins found here: http://www.basketballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=970

  3. No one is ever going to play at a school as long as Jess Settles played at Iowa. I’m suprised he’s still not on the roster after the 7+ years it seems like he played there.

    It’s scary the parallels between the football and basketball teams at IU… potent enough offense, but can anyone defend??? Speed, desire, and intensity go a long way.

  4. Everything that hinges is hinging nearer and
    I’m beginning to wonder if it’s even worth going after 5-star recruits for restoration our basketball program. If Zeller is the talent he has been hyped to be, does anyone think he’ll not go the pathway every other one-and-done? The kid still has two years of playing hoops to get his NBA game ready. Can a team really establish any continuity in their lineup and chemistry on the floor if the lone 5-star recruit landed flies out the door after a single season wearing the cream and crimson? Sure would be a downer if we land him and then he bolts for the NBA just before Hulls, Watford, and Elston move into their senior years. If his sights are on the NBA game after only one season of college ball, I think it’s pretty obvious where he’ll go.

    But maybe upon contemplation he’ll grab a thought beyond today and realize that every man all too soon reaches a time his life is left only in rearview mirror and the thick green his wallet no longer replaces the echoes of a forgone day his best they never had chance to cheer..If he desires the glimpse at a once in a lifetime gamble only kept in destiny’s hand for few…if he is lured by the beauty of twisted pathways uncertain that could lead to finest gold behind final curtain…if he wants the memory his short day to live forever tall in the hearts of every ten-year-old kid shooting their own March Madness baskets in hot summer sun the hoops made proud their forgotten dusty Hoosier towns….if he wants to be the clippings a front-page story tucked inside as trophies in shoebox sanctuaries where a dreamers road intersects his own unheralded memory lane…if he looks into the stands an Assembly Hall crowd and knows that in fifty years he’ll still see distinct the eyes their wildly happy exuberant faces, then maybe there’s a story yet told of a Hoosier named Zeller that rolled the dice a night, an Indiana November, and put upon his shoulders a mission to bring the game of basketball back its glorious storied resting place.

  5. Talor Battle’s shoulder muscles each get a full four years of eligibility.

    It’s nice to see single digits next to Indiana this year…I’m thinking that a lot of those close games from last year come out in our favor this time around. What amazes me the most is the fact that a lot of guys who rotated through the starting lineup last year should be coming off the bench this year; Indiana with experienced depth…never thought I’d see the day after 2008

  6. How can you say Hulls and Elston struggled on defense and not mention Jones, who is our worst defensive player?

  7. Why is it that everyone thinks that IU will have such a potent offense? They were 8th in the league in scoring. 10th in Free Throw percentage, and 9th in Field Goal percentage. The same cast of characters comes back (for the most part).

    What am I missing? Is it the old “year of development” argument? The other guys have a year of development under their belts too.

  8. Greg, maybe I am being to positive but there is a defensive force in the middle in Guy, Roth is at 100%, Creek is back, and Oladipo and Sheehey are here plus the year of development. The weight room and conditioning alone will give us an edge. Pritch does not look like the same kid. I guess I don’t think they will have a really potent offense but this year should finally turn the corner, not just start to turn the corner!

  9. Guy, Oladipo and Sheehey have yet to play a game. I’m not sure that Creek is as close as everyone else thinks that he is. He didn’t even get in the lay up lines at Hoosier Hysteria. That was a red flag for me.

    Everyone conditions and lifts. I’ll need to be convinced that IU’s strength development is any better (or worse) than any other team.

    @J Pat…..what would they need to do for you to think they’ve turned the corner?

  10. Greg, I said it up top and I look for at least 18 wins! I could sit here and say that they will win the same amount as last year but I don’t feel that way…they are also more athletic I forgot to add up top. There is a buzz in the air in B town and you could feel it at Hoosier Hysteria. If Zeller and others commit I think the team will play off of some extra adrenaline too. Maybe I am nuts. Maybe I need something to look forward to after IU football almost lost a game to AR KANSAS ST!!!

  11. @ J Pat, you aren’t crazy. I’m just not as sure about Oladipo and Guy as you are. I’d like to think that Guy is a stud. But if he was such a stud, how was he available so late in the process? 7’2 studs don’t go unnoticed. I’m never very excited about big guys that sign in the spring.

    And Creek’s injury worries me.

  12. Good effort Hugh. Here are my “corrections”: WI is NEVER lower than 3rd in the Big 10 with Ryan as the Coach. IU is 5th (record 19-11). MSU is 1st. Purdue is 2nd (but maybe 6th if they don’t develop a 3rd scoring option)). I don’t care who is 4th IL or OSU. But the other one will suffer at 6th (if it is Webber, his coaching seat becomes VERY hot, it couldn’t happen to a bigger WHINER!). MN will not win a Big 10 game away from home (and Tubby’s recruiting magic continues to fade big time). NU will either play well at 7th or fall back behind MN at 8th. MI, PSU and Iowa will finish the season, but just barely, with PSU in front at 9th due ENTIRELY to Battle! Hot tip, MI will fire its coach at the end of the season!

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