IU remains heavily involved with Thon Maker

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2015 Orangeville Prep big man Thon Maker, the top available prospect remaining in the class nationally, continues to be courted by Indiana.

Last week, Jeff Borzello of ESPN.com reported that Indiana and Arizona State were the two schools most involved with Maker. Over the weekend, Maker’s guardian, Edward Smith, told SNY.tv that he’s discussed plans with both schools for the five-star recruit to enroll in December.

“I deal mostly with (assistant coach) Chuck (Martin of Indiana) and Chuck says mid-year or next year (fall 2016) is all good and they have a plan in place for (Maker),” Smith told SNY.tv. “So that’s his basic plan with that. If he came in mid-year, they would ease him into it, knowing that he has a year-and-a-half plan.”

Maker, along with his brother Matur and Smith, visited Bloomington in early March for IU’s final regular season game against Michigan State.

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Justin Smith planning June visit to Indiana

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Class of 2017 Stevenson (Ill.) wing Justin Smith, who received a scholarship offer from Indiana earlier this month, is planning a visit to Bloomington this June.

The Hoosier staff has tracked the 6-foot-7, 200-pound forward closely this spring and his strong play has helped attract several new suitors in his recruitment.

“They told me that they like me and I’m planning on visiting there during June,” Smith said over the weekend at the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) stop in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “I don’t know much about them, but it’ll be good to learn more about them.”

In 17 EYBL games this spring, Smith averaged 8.2 points and 3.1 rebounds in 16.3 minutes per game for Mac Irvin Fire.

Along with the offer from IU, Smith also has early offers from Illinois, DePaul, Wake Forest and Rice with interest from Duke, Georgetown, Iowa, Stanford, Wisconsin, Villanova and Nebraska.

As he prepares for his junior season at Stevenson, he’ll have to adjust to a more prominent role as Jalen Brunson (Villanova) and Connor Cashaw (Rice) both graduated from a team that won the state championship.

Smith averaged 10.3 points and four rebounds as a sophomore and scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds as Stevenson beat Normal, 57-40, to win the IHSA Class 4A title.

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Bielfeldt eliminates DePaul, will use weekend to make decision

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Michigan graduate transfer Max Bielfeldt has eliminated one school from his list and will take the weekend to make his decision, according to multiple reports.

Bielfeldt told Brendan F. Quinn of MLive.com that he’s no longer considering DePaul, which means he’ll choose from a final three of Indiana, Iowa State and Nebraska. He visited each of those schools.

His decision, which he originally planned to have in the days following his visit to Bloomington, is likely to come after this weekend.

The 6-foot-8, 245-pound forward averaged 5.1 points and 3.6 rebounds in 14.5 minutes per game last season for the Wolverines and will be eligible immediately. He was granted his release from Michigan in late April after it was announced that Caris LeVert would return for his senior season.

Indiana has two open scholarships for next season following the dismissals of Devin Davis and Hanner Mosquera-Perea.

A look at how unbalanced scheduling could shape the Big Ten race

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Unbalanced scheduling is one of the challenges accompanying conference expansion. With the addition of Maryland and Rutgers last season, the Big Ten was forced to move to an eight single play, five home-and-home scheduling format.

It was a dramatic change from the previous 12-team scheduling format, which allowed for seven home-and-home pairings and four single plays across the league. Last season, it didn’t matter much in determining the regular season champ as Wisconsin was the clear class of the conference and finished 16-2, which was the best record since Ohio State in 2011.

That is not likely to be the case next winter as the conference appears to have eight or nine teams with legitimate NCAA tournament aspirations and several of those programs are showing up consistently in preseason top 25s.

So how might scheduling determine next season’s regular season Big Ten champion? Using the top seven teams in John Gasaway’s conference power rankings published earlier this month over on ESPN Insider, we ranked the schedule difficulty (from most difficult to easiest) of the top half of the league for next season:

1. Maryland
Home: Illinois, Iowa, Penn State, Rutgers
Away: Indiana, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska
Home/Away: Michigan, Northwestern, Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin

Comment: If the Terrapins win the Big Ten, it won’t be due to a favorable schedule. Of Gasaway’s projected top six behind Maryland in the standings, the Terps get four of them twice. And the other two, Indiana and Michigan State, will be road games.

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Indiana listed at 25/1 odds to win 2016 NCAA title

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Indiana has been tabbed as a preseason top 15 team in most of the early rankings for the 2015-2016 season and in new odds released Thursday, the Hoosiers are being viewed as a legitimate title contender next season.

Oddsmaker Bovada released updated national championship odds for next season earlier this afternoon and lists the Hoosiers at 25/1 to win the 2016 title.

Indiana is tied with Gonzaga, Villanova and Wichita State for the 11th best shot to win the title next season, according to Bovada.

Maryland is the favorite to win the title at 9/1 and another Big Ten team, Michigan State, is not far behind at 16/1.

Just behind the Terrapins are Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina at 10/1.

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Indiana scores perfect on APR for 5th straight year

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Indiana basketball’s multi-year Academic Progress Rate (APR) added a fifth consecutive score of 1,000 under Tom Crean, according to data released Wednesday afternoon by the NCAA.

The program also received an APR Public Recognition Award for the third straight year.

Here’s the full release issued by IU:

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – For the third straight year, Indiana University men’s basketball coach Tom Crean will see his program earn an APR Public Recognition Award which is given to high-performing teams that posted multiyear APRs in the top 10 percent of all squads in their particular sports. Thirty-nine institutions were honored.

“Our staff and Marni Mooney keeps all involved on task, the players understand our commitment to their education, and everyone in the program takes tremendous pride in our academic success,” said IU coach Tom Crean. “Our players consistently exceed their own expectations and reach new heights that are as rewarding an achievement as they experience.”

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Big Ten Power Rankings: Offseason edition

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It’s May and more than five months separate us from the opening of the 2015-2016 season, but it’s never a bad time to check in on the Big Ten landscape.

Here’s our first stab at forecasting next season’s conference standings with last season’s records in parenthesis:

14. Rutgers (10-22, 2-16)
· Arriving: Corey Sanders (247Composite top 100), Deshawn Freeman, Jonathan Laurent, Justin Goode, Kejuan Johnson
· Departing: Junior Etou (transfer), Kadeem Jack (graduation), Kerwin Okoro (transfer), Malick Kone (graduation), Myles Mack (graduation)

Outlook: Eddie Jordan knew it would be a long process to build Rutgers into a respectable program when he took the job and as he enters year three at the helm, there’s still plenty of work to be done. The Scarlet Knights did manage to sign a top 100 recruit in point guard Corey Sanders. But in a loaded Big Ten, any optimism for a move up the league standings in Piscataway should be guarded.

13. Minnesota (18-15, 6-12)
· Arriving: Dupree McBrayer, Jarvis Johnson, J.R. Gilbert, Jordan Murphy, Kevin Dorsey
· Departing: Andre Hollins (graduation), Deandre Mathieu (graduation), Elliott Eliason (graduation), Maurice Walker (graduation)

Outlook: Count me as a skeptic of Gophers coach Richard Pitino, who enters his third season in Minneapolis and was mentioned for several jobs across the country despite never reaching the NCAA tournament in three seasons as a head coach. Minnesota underachieved last season, lost its three best players and this is one of the league’s weakest rosters in terms of talent.

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