By Paul M. Banks
Forget about what the Big Ten lacks in football, in hoops they’re the best or second best conference by pretty much all hoops experts. #16 Ohio State has already opened the season with a rip-roaring victory over Alcorn St. and by the end of the next couple of days, pretty much every team will have tipped off. Let’s get it started in here!
Opener 11/13 vs. Florida Gulf Coast
Look for Delvon Roe and/or Derrick Nix, to fill in where the departed Goran Suton left off. But who will take Travis Walton’s place as the top defender? Likely a team approach, until one individual asserts himself.
Opener 11/13 vs. Cal-State Northridge
Their junior class is as good as any in Big Ten history. And you’ll likely see JaJuan Johnson, E’Twaun Moore and Robbie Hummel playing in “the league” someday soon. And just to add more hype and pressure, the Final Four is just down the road in Indianapolis this year.
3. Ohio State (1-0)
Evan Turner is looking like a sure-fire lottery pick, and William Buford has late first round potential. In other words, the Buckeyes will be very dangerous on the wings and perimeter! They’ll likely whomp James Madison next.
Opener vs. Northern Michigan 11/14
It’s been awhile since they’ve been ranked this high, preseason #15. Having 2 of the Big Ten’s 8 players on the Wooden Award watch list certainly has a lot to do with that.
Opener 11/13 vs. SIU-Edwardsville
Freshman D.J. Richardson looked great (game high 23 points) in the final preseason scrimmage. Fellow frosh Brandon Paul has looked good too. They’ll be key to supplementing the nucleus of returning juniors. Big years will also be needed from wings Alex Legion and Dominique Keller. So the Illini should be at least 7 or 8 deep this winter.
Opener 11/13 vs. Tennessee Tech
Lost two spots in the rankings before they even played because their top recruit Royce White, one of the nation’s best incoming freshman, is acting like an idiotic thug, and got himself suspended. He may get himself kicked off the team before it’s all said and done.
Opener 11/13 vs. Northern Illinois
The Wildcats football team has not won a bowl game since 1949. The just-down-the-road Chicago Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908. The slightly further down the road Chicago Blackhawks last won a Stanley Cup in 1961. The basketball Wildcats last made the NCAA tourney…NEVER. Is THIS the year? Maybe not for all those other teams, but it will be for NU hoops.
8. Penn State
Opener vs. Penn 11/13
Did you know they won the NIT last year? Seriously does anyone? How many NIT champions from this decade can you name? thought so. This year their schedule looks REALLY EASY the first two months…a school record for wins in a season is exceedingly possible.
Opener 11/15 vs. IPFW
I know this pick might come back to bite me in the…but seriously they have to have a down year sometime, correct? If you look at this roster it screams “down year”. It also says “lots of big slow white guys.”
Opener 11/13 vs. Howard
The faster Maurice Creek develops, the faster they move up the ladder. Do you think Tom Crean is having seller’s remorse yet? Let’s ask that again when he’s getting whomped by 30 every night during conference season.
Opener 11/15 vs. UT-San Antonio
You know how all the animals go and hide underground before a devastating storm comes in? Somehow they just know, like all the smart players who transferred out of Iowa city this off-season. They all knew what they were doing. This team should be even worse than Indiana last year.