#23 Minnesota Golden Gophers: College Basketball 111 in 111

tubby smith minnesota

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s third annual college basketball season preview series.  Two years we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  Last year, we were slightly more aggressive and expanded to 111 teams in 111 days and will do so again as we look ahead to the 2012-2013 season.

We will rank the 75 power conference teams and top 36 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

With Trevor Mbakwe returning from a torn ACL, Tubby Smith boasts his most talented roster since arriving at Minnesota.  Now the question becomes whether or not the Gophers can pull it all together and live up to their preseason Top 25 ranking.

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#80 Minnesota Golden Gophers: College Basketball 111 in 111

tubby smith minnesota

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series.  Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days.  We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

Tubby Smith has to be on the hot seat, right?  In his four years as Minnesota head coach, the Golden Gophers have not finished with a winning Big Ten record or picked up a NCAA Tournament victory.  With a young roster and unproven backcourt, that trend will likely continue in 2011-2012.

GO HERE FOR OUR MINNESOTA FOOTBALL PREVIEW
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99 in 99: #50 Minnesota Golden Gophers

Minnesota Gophers mascot

Tubby Time has not accelerated the success of the Minnesota Gophers’ basketball program like originally anticipated.  Last year was supposed to be the breakout out year but two highly regarded newcomers never saw a minute on the court while the team’s starting point guard was ineligible for most of conference play.  With a loaded Big Ten this season, I cannot imagine this being the year Minnesota makes a jump in the conference.

The Sports Bank’s “99 in 99” ranks the 72 power conference college basketball teams and the top 27 mid-majors.  Click here if you missed teams #51-#99.

By: David Kay
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Title Games Produce Different Fates for Mississippi State, Minnesota

By Mike Gallagher

Don’t get me wrong, winning the Big Ten Tournament would’ve been nice on a number of levels for the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Not only would it have kept their ridiculous amount of late season momentum going right into the tournament with the auto bid they would’ve received, but in the big picture it also would be a great title and trophy to hold along with an unbelievable comeback story for the school that could be passed over for decades to come.  When it seemed they were done, the 2010 Gophers made a memorable charge through the entire Big Ten to win the league and go to the NCAAs.  You know, all that sentimental crap.

But let’s be completely serious, when it came down to the Gophers getting into this year’s tournament, Sunday’s game had nothing to do with it.

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2009-2010 Big Ten Basketball Preview: Part 2 of 4

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By: David Kay

The middle of Big Ten was filled with mediocrity last season as demonstrated by the fact that eight teams finished with conference records between 11-7 and 8-10.  Some of that can be chalked up to opponents beating up on each other on a nightly basis and there being no real “gimme” (except for Indiana.)  Some of that can also be chalked up to young teams still trying to find their niche as a team.

Once again there will only be one gimme game in conference play, whoever is taking on Iowa.  But one of the reasons the Big Ten will be in the discussion as the toughest conferences in the country is because of the strength of the middle teams in the standings.  Realistically, all four of the following teams have a chance at moving into the top three if things fall in place.  I expect three of these teams to be dancing come March, with the seventh team, Wisconsin firmly on the bubble.

manny harris

4. Michigan (T-7th, 9-9, 21-14, NCAA Second Round)

2009-2010 Outlook:
Jon Beilien’s makeover of the Michigan basketball program paid dividends last season as the Wolverines made their first NCAA Tournament appearance in more than a decade.  This year, the expectations are even higher.  Michigan returns their top five scorers including All-Big Ten candidates and likely future NBA’ers Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims.  As always, Beilein’s team will live and die by the trifecta.  When they are feeling it from deep, the Wolverines will be tough to beat.

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Zack Gibson (Sr)/Ben Cronin (Fr)/Jordan Morgan (Fr)
F: DeShawn Sims (Sr)/Anthony Wright (Jr)/Blake McLimans (Fr)
G: Zach Novak (So)/Matt Vogrich (Fr)
G: Manny Harris (Jr)/Laval Lucas-Perry (So)/Eso Akunne (Fr)
PG: Stu Douglass (So)/Darius Morris (Fr)

Gone: G-C.J. Lee, PG-Kelvin Grady (playing football), PG-David Merritt

Player to Watch: Harris- “Manny Fresh” (as many ESPN analysts so un-cleverly refer to him as) is one of the purest scorers in the country.  He can attack the basket, stroke it from deep, and rebounds the ball very well for a guard.  However, his shot selection is still very questionable, as is his leadership ability.  If he can become more of a team player, the sky is the limit for him and the Wolverines this season.

tubby smith

5. Minnesota (T-7th, 9-9, 22-11, NCAA First Round)

2009-2010 Outlook:
Tubby ball is in effect in the Twin Cities.  In just his second year at Minnesota, Tubby re-gained respectability for the Gopher basketball program.  His team was very deep last season as eleven players saw at least ten minutes of court time per game.  With their full-court defensive pressure, that type of depth is needed.  Tubby also continued his recruiting abilities landing highly touted forwards Royce White and Rodney Williams.  There is some recent concern with the indefinite suspensions of White and Devron Bostick along with Marquette transfer Trevor Mbakwe yet to be cleared to play.  Still, the future continues to be bright for Minnesota.

Projected Depth Chart
C: Ralph Sampson III (So)/Colton Iverson (So)
PF: Paul Carter (Jr)/Trevor Mbakwe (Jr)/Royce White (Fr)
F: Damien Johnson (Sr)/Rodney Williams (Fr)
SG: Lawrence Westbrook (Sr)/Blake Hoffarber (Jr)/Devron Bostick (Sr)
PG: Al Nolen (Jr)/Devoe Joseph (So)/Justin Cobbs (Fr)

Gone: G/F-Jamal Abu-Shamala, G-Travis Busch (transfer-Colorado State)

Player to Watch: Johnson- With Tubby’s ferocious style of defensive play, it helps to have one of the league’s best defenders in Johnson.  He can also hold his own on the offensive end as he was second on the Gophers averaging 9.8 points per game.  He might be one of the most under the radar players in the conference.

80157105CC063_Illinois_Figh6. Illinois (T-2nd, 11-7, 24-10, NCAA First Round)

2009-2010 Outlook:
The past several years, Illinois has been a team that has relied on its solid guard play.  Having lost three perimeter players is a major loss, but highly recruited freshmen D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul should help fill the void.  Mike and Mike (Tisdale and Davis) made major jumps last season and will need to continue to improve for Illinois to compete in the vastly improved Big Ten.

Projected Depth Chart
C: Mike Tisdale (Jr)/Richard Semrau (Jr)/Stan Simpson (Fr)
PF: Mike Davis (Jr)/Dominique Keller (Sr)/Tyler Griffey (Fr)
G/F: Alex Legion (Jr)/Joseph Bertrand (Fr)
G: D.J. Richardson (Fr)/Brandon Paul (Fr)
G: Demetri McCamey (Jr)/Jeffery Jordan (Jr)

Gone: PG-Chester Frazier, SG-Trent Meacham, G/F-Calvin Brock

Player to Watch: Legion- When Legion transferred from Kentucky, it was a highly anticipated get for the Illinois program.  However, Legion never found his niche once he became eligible and often looked lost on the court.  There is no doubting his potential, but will he be able to put it all together and become a consistent contributor?

7. Wisconsin (T-4th, 10-8, 20-13, NCAA Second Round)

2009-2010 Outlook:
If Big Ten teams have learned anything, it is do not underestimate Bo Ryan’s coaching ability.  His teams will always get after it on the defensive end and be very disciplined with their swing offense.  This year may be Ryan’s biggest challenge as he lacks a go-to player and a lot of depth, especially up-front.  Still, expect the Badgers to once again make some noise.  Highly recruited freshman guard Diamond Taylor left the team after being charged with three counts of burglary in his first week on campus.  Dumb.

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Projected Depth Chart
C: Keaton Nankivil (Jr)/Jared Berggren (Fr)/Ian Markholf (So)/J.P. Gavinski (Jr)
PF: Jon Leuer (Jr)/Mike Bruesewitz (Fr)
SF: Tim Jarmusz (Jr)/Ryan Evans (Fr)
SG: Jason Bohannon (Sr)/Rob Wilson (So)
PG: Trevon Hughes (Sr)/Jordan Taylor (So)

Gone: PF-Marcus Landry, F-Joe Krabbenhoft, F/C-Kevin Gullikson

Player to Watch: Leuer- At 6-10, Leuer is loaded with talent and versatility.  He can stroke it from deep, put the ball on the floor, and has a nice skill set in the post.  Becoming more physical, especially on the defensive end, is a must if the Badgers are to get back to the tourney.

The Sports Bank Big 10 Preview Continues:
Tuesday: Teams 8-11 (Northwestern, Penn State, Indiana, Iowa)
Thursday: Teams 1-3
Friday: Big Ten Award Predictions

The Sports Bank Big 12 Previews/Power Rankings:
Teams 10-12 (Colorado, Texas Tech, Nebraska)
Teams 7-9 (Missouri, Baylor, Iowa State)
Teams 4-6 (Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M)
Teams 1-3 (Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma)

The Sports Bank ACC Previews/Power Rankings:
Teams 10-12 (Virginia Tech, Virginia, N.C. State)
Teams 7-9 (Wake Forest, Miami FL, Boston College)
Teams 4-6 (Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech)
Teams 1-3 (UNC, Duke, Maryland)

The Sports Bank SEC Previews/Power Rankings:
SEC East Teams 4-6 (Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Georgia)
SEC East Teams 1-3 (Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida)
SEC West Teams 4-6 (Arkansas, Auburn, LSU)
SEC West Teams 1-3 (Mississippi State, Mississippi, Alabama)

The Sports Bank Pac-10 Preview/Power Rankings:
Teams 8-10 (Washingon State, Arizona State, Stanford)
Teams 5-7 (Arizona, USC, Oregon)
Teams 1-4 (Oregon State, UCLA, Washington, Cal)

The Sports Bank Big East Previews/Power Rankings

Teams 13-16 (Rutgers, South Florida, Providence, DePaul)
Teams 9-12 (Notre Dame, Pitt, Marquette, St. John’s)
Teams 5-8 (Syracuse, Louisville, Cincinnati, Seton Hall)
Teams 1-4 (Villanova, West Virginia, UConn, Georgetown)
Post-Season Award Predictions

For all the latest college basketball info, you can follow David Kay on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB