The Michigan State Spartans are the unanimous pick to the win the 2013-2014 Big Ten men’s basketball championship, the conference announced earlier this morning at its media day. Here’s the full release: Rosemont, Ill. – Michigan State has been chosen ...
We continue our 2013-2014 Big Ten preview today with a look at ten non-conference games, listed in chronological order, that you’ll want to mark on your calendars as must see. Michigan State vs. Kentucky on Tuesday, Nov. 12 Event: Champion's Classic at the United Center in Chicago TV coverage: ESPN It's never too early for No. 1 vs. No. 2, right? The Spartans are No. 2 in the first coaches poll and Kentucky is No. 1 and this is an early preview of a game that we could see again in early April. Michigan State is the more experienced group, but the Wildcats have another mega recruiting class. Florida at Wisconsin on Tuesday, Nov. 12 TV coverage: ESPN The Badgers will get an early test against a top ten team in the country when Billy Donovan and Florida come to Madison. Wisconsin's frontcourt, which lost Jared Berggren, Ryan Evans and Mike Bruesewitz, will be immediately tested when it tries to contain Florida senior Patric Young.
One thing's for certain in John Groce's early Illini tenure: He's never short on histrionics. In a sport where coaches strut the sideline like a runway, Groce's facial contortions stand out. But a more important, less superficial analysis of Groce's first full season in Champaign reveals a season in which he didn't let the program slip. The team started out 12-0, which included a win over Butler for the 2012 Maui Invitational Championship. Illinois climbed as high as No. 10 in week seven of the Associated Press Top 25 poll. While the Big Ten season (8-10, tied-7th) was nothing more than average, the Illini did nip then-No. 1 Indiana at the other Assembly Hall. The team also made the NCAA tournament as a No. 7 seed after missing out in Bruce Weber's last season at the helm. It beat Colorado in the second round before falling to No. 2 Miami in a close game, 63-59. And Groce's returns with recruits should give the Illini faithful some hope. It's been a super September. Class of 2014 standouts Quentin Snider (No. 37), a former Louisville verbal, and Leron Black (No. 39) both gave pledges to Groce this month. Both were also targets of the Indiana staff.
With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’ll be taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster over the next month. Today, we continue our look at the Big Ten with the Michigan State Spartans. When Michigan State coach Tom Izzo says his future team reminds him of his 2000 National Champion squad, watch out. He said just that in July to MSU's student newspaper, The State News. In fact, heading into the 2013-2014 season, Izzo might have his best squad in East Lansing since that legendary team more than 13 years ago. There's Gary Harris, Keith Appling and Adreian Payne, who return to comprise the Spartans' core. All three were recognized as all-Big Ten last season. Harris and Payne gave up potential first round NBA draft selections to make a run at a national championship in 2014.
With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’ll be taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster over the next month. Today, we continue our look at the Big Ten with the Wisconsin Badgers. The brand of basketball in Madison may not always be easy on the eyes, but the results cannot be called into question. Over 12 seasons at Wisconsin, Bo Ryan has two Big Ten championships and the Badgers have never finished outside of the top four in the conference standings. That's consistency. Of course, that begs the question: Is this finally the year Wisconsin falls into the middle of the pack in the league? A quick survey of preseason prognostications says no. That optimism is centered largely around the upside of Sam Dekker, pictured above, and a solid nucleus of returning players in the backcourt. Dekker, one of four true freshman to start under Ryan, appears poised for a huge year. Ryan Evans is no longer going to take minutes from Dekker and his elite athleticism, motor and ability to shoot from the perimeter make him one of the more exciting players to watch in the league. As a freshman, he shot nearly 40 percent on 3-pointers and posted an offensive rating of 116.7, the highest mark among regulars in Wisconsin’s rotation.
With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’ll be taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster over the next month. Today, we continue our look at the Big Ten with the Michigan Wolverines. After a improbable run to the national championship game that ended in defeat to Louisville, Michigan is once again back on the national scene despite losing national player of the year Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. to the NBA. That's largely because of the two guys pictured above, Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III. Both turned down spots in the first round of June's NBA Draft in favor of returning to Ann Arbor. Whether returning to school was the right decision was the right call for either guy with a monster 2014 draft looming is a debate for another day. The story for now is that Michigan has one of the best young duos in college basketball. McGary's monster NCAA tournament has landed him on plenty of preseason All-American lists despite an otherwise underwhelming freshman campaign. Over the season's final six games, McGary averaged 14.3 points and 10.7 rebounds per game and his presence transformed Michigan from a trendy upset pick to a national runner-up. Robinson, meanwhile, was one of the nation's most efficient offensive players as a freshman. His offensive rating ranked 10th nationally and he shot 65.2 percent on 2-point field goals. Robinson has work to do in terms of making his game more consistent from the perimeter, but there's no questioning his elite athleticism.
With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’ll be taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster over the next month. Today, we continue our look at the Big Ten with the Ohio State Buckeyes. They were so close. On March 30 in the Elite 8 of the NCAA tournament, No. 2 seed Ohio State had come back on No. 9 seed Wichita State in the West Regional final. Down 13 points at halftime, the pre-game favorites had cut the deficit to three with 2:49 to go in the game. 27 seconds later, Wichita State's Tekele Cotton would drain a 3-pointer to make the score 65-59. The Buckeyes would never get that close again, that day. Ohio State's sure-fire trip to the Final Four last season ended in heartbreak at Staples Center, but coming into 2013-2014, there's plenty of reason for optimism that a return trip deep into the NCAA tournament could happen. Yes, the Buckeyes lost their leading scorer and rebounder, Deshaun Thomas, to the professional ranks. But with the pieces head coach Thad Matta has returning and the young talent he has brought in, it's already been enough for his crew to earn multiple top 15 preseason rankings.
With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’ll be taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster over the next month. Today, we continue our look at the Big Ten with the Iowa Hawkeyes. For the first time in the Fran McCaffery era in Iowa City, there are expectations for the Iowa Hawkeyes. After landing on the wrong side of the NCAA tournament bubble a season ago and then making a run to the finals of the NIT, the Hawkeyes have the pieces in place to field a very good team in 2013-2014. Nine of Iowa's top 10 scorers are back including junior Aaron White and senior Roy Marble, one of the better tandems in the Big Ten. White is a bit unheralded nationally, but is one of the best frontcourt players in the Big Ten. Last season, he attempted 258 free throws and had a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of 86.3, the highest mark of any Big Ten player. He was also one of just four Big Ten players to average at least 12.8 points and 6.2 rebounds, joining Zeller, Victor Oladipo and Deshaun Thomas.
With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’ll be taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster over the next month. Today, we continue our look at the Big Ten with the Purdue Boilermakers. It can only get better for Purdue, right? After ending last season with a 16-18 record and a second-round loss to Santa Clara in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI), the Boilermakers bring a mix of youth and experience to the table in 2013-2014. And with four of its five leading scorers from last season back in West Lafayette, Matt Painter is hoping that can translate into more wins. Purdue's backcourt duo of Ronnie and Terone Johnson returns this season, and the Boilermakers hope that means the offense can click from day one. It also helps that Ronnie Johnson led the team in assists last season (26.8 percent assist rate) and Terone Johnson led the team in points per game (13.5), which indicates the talent is already there for potential success.
Five publications - Athlon Sports, Blue Ribbon, Lindy's Sports, Sporting News and USA Today Sports - are out with preseason college basketball preview magazines this month or early next month. Each has a projected top 25, as well as a projected finish for the Big Ten. Indiana is No. 20 nationally in Lindy's Sports, No. 23 in USA Today Sports, No. 25 in The Sporting News and unranked by Athlon Sports and Blue Ribbon. But more interesting is the vary opinion on how the middle of the pack in the Big Ten could potentially shake out. While more than one publication can agree on the top three and bottom four, the middle five teams have produced a wide range of predictions.