Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings


“ONIONS!!!!   SEND IT IN!!!”

By Paul M. Banks

It’s Big Ten Basketball Media Day, and you know what that means? College basketball  season has officially begun! Well, actually it sort of began a couple weeks ago when Midnight Madness occurred and practices began. But nevertheless, college hoops season is almost here. msu-dance-teamAnd to quote the famous Christmas Carol, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

1. Michigan State (31-7, 15-3)
Spartans return a good portion of the top guns from last year’s National runner-up team. With Kalin Lucas, Raymar Morgan and Durrell Summers back, the Izzone will have lots to get excited about this winter. Look for Delvon Roe to take a big step forward too.

2. Purdue (27-10, 11-7) A sweet sixteen appearance last year proved that the Baby Boilers are now all grown up, and established Matt Painter as a very strong branch in his legendary coaching tree.

3. Ohio State (22-11, 10-8) Imagine what they could have been had B.J. Mullens returned. He was one of just two Big Ten ballers to be drafted last season. Evan Turner (possible lottery pick) and David Lighty could follow.

4. Illinois (24-10, 11-7) If Mike Davis or incoming freshman D.J. Richardson can replace the departed Chester Frazier’s defense, it’ll be another year of progress in Champaign. But it’s all an appetizer for the main course in 2010-11- when they could be dominant.

5. Michigan (21-14, 9-9) Finally broke through to the tournament last season. However, they’re still a 2-man team. Then again Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims are no ordinary men. Look for them to be a tougher out this season.

6. Minnesota (22-11, 9-9) Finally broke through to the tournament last season. How valuable will Tubby Time be this season? Depends on what he gets out of Damian Johnson and Lawrence Westbrook.

7. Northwestern (17-14, 8-10) The ‘Cats went from laughing stock to NIT (and one win shy of the school record for victories) in just one season. Do they take the next step up this year? I asked the boss himself, NU Athletic Director Jim Phillips, and he responded “I say this both intellectually and emotionally. I believe it’s going to happen. I don’t know if it’s going to be this year, but I think we are going to get to the tournament. Recruiting is going well, and in future years I think we’ll have a nice nucleus.”


8. Penn State (22-11, 10-8) They still have their star point guard with a porn star name, Talor Battle, but little else. The Nittany Lions’ nickname begins with NIT for a reason.

9. Wisconsin (20-13, 10-8) The swing offense is so boring, it could make LeBron James unexciting to watch. Ok maybe that’s an exaggeration, but this team will win quite a few 48-44 games, and continue besmirching the national reputation of the Big Ten. Look for Bo Ryan to overachieve and make more than you could ever believe out of what he has- yet again.

10. Indiana (6-25, 1-17) It certainly will be a step up from last year, but then again how could things get worse? At least they have football…oh wait. Keep an eye on Jeremiah Rivers, Doc’s kid.

11. Iowa (15-17, 5-13) And you thought they were boring in football? At least they win ugly on the gridiron, here they’re just plain ugly to watch. They could easily break 20+ losses, as all their top players from last year’s team, a very bad one, are gone. But here below, you’ll find something much easier to look at.


Michigan State Now Midwest’s Premier Program

By Paul M. Banks

Before it was an environmental clarion call spouted by business and government leaders everywhere, the phrase “go green” was the Michigan State Spartans’ battle cry.

For those lucky enough to be in Detroit this weekend (Yes, it’s weird describing Detroit as a coveted destination) you’ll hear lots of “go green” and “go white” as MSU becomes the first team to play in the Final Four in their home state since Duke laced them up in Charlotte in 1994. When Tom “H to tha” Izzo brings his Spartans to Ford Field, a venue 92 miles from their campus, his resume will include 11 straight NCAA appearances, 5 Final Fours in those 11 years, a National Championship in 2000 and a 30-10 overall tournament record. With the recent collapse of the Indiana Hoosier program, Sparty has become the Big Ten’s (and the Midwest in general) finest program. No other team from the heartland is a March Madness fixture like the Spartans, with Izzo preparing each and every one of his recruited four-year players for Final Four glory. But this success is a more recent phenomenon.

State wasn’t admitted into the Big Ten until 1995 and the nation didn’t really “Meet the Spartans” until the Jud Heathcote era (1976-1995). They weren’t considered a power until the 1979 National championship- when Magic Johnson, Greg Kelser and company defeated Larry Bird’s Indiana St. team in the highest watched game in college history. This established East Lansing as a haven for stellar guard play. The list includes Steve Smith, Scott Skiles, Eric Snow, Shawn Respert, Mateen Cleaves, Charlie Bell, Jason Richardson, Shannon Brown, Drew Neitzel and current Big Ten player of the year Kalin Lucas. Lucas spoke about his conversations with Mateen Cleaves, the floor general on the last Spartan championship team. “Mateen tells me this is my team and I have to be the general, I have to run the team, I have to give guys shots, but I also have to get my shots,” Lucas said.

The hard-line Izzo leads teams that get better as the season progresses and excel in rebounding (currently first nationally) and defense. “Defense can be measured in a lot of ways: points allowed, opposing field goal percentage, but it’s almost like what Jay Bilas says about heart, you measure it when things are on the line. And I thought down the stretch our defense is getting better, it’s been pretty solid when we’ve had the right lineups in there,” Izzo said