Tag Archive: Illinois Fighting Illini



Now, you all may be wondering why my blog is called koonskollegebball and not koonsonlywritesaboutbigtenbball.  Well to be honest I love college basketball all the same. However, like every other fan I have my loyalties to my favorite team(s) and am simply a huge fan of the Big Ten and while I’m getting back into this I’m focusing my attentions towards something I’m familiar and comfortable with.  In this post I’ll share with you my grades for each Big Ten schools’ 2011 incoming freshman (2011 Recruiting Class).  My grades are based on a 4.0 grading scale just an FYI. 

Number one overall: Ohio State Buckeyes  3.9 A

Name

Position

ESPN Grade

ESPNU 100

Shannon Scott

PG

96

X

Amir Williams

C

95

X

Sam Thompson

SF

95

X

LaQuinton Ross

SF

95

X

Trey McDonald

C

91

 

Ohio State is filling a vital backup role for Aaron Craft with Shannon Scott at the point guard position.  The Buckeyes are also fulfilling awaited departures from Jared Sullinger and other front court players.  Four of their recruits are ESPNU 100 Recruits.  That’s amazing. The reason why they received an A and a 3.9 grade from me, Professor Koons. 

2. Illinois Fighting Illini  3.7 A

Name

Position

ESPN Grade

ESPNU 100

Nnanna Egwu

C

94

X

Tracy Abrams

PG

92

X

Mike Shaw

PF

92

X

Mycheal Henry

SF

92

X

Devin Langford

SF

91

 

Ibrahima Djimde

C

87

 

The Illini put together an extremely solid recruiting class.  At first glance at Illinois’ roster you see many freshman and notice the loss of the Illini’s 3 top scorers from last season.  I’m not saying a solid recruiting class will have all the answers to these losses but Illini faithful should rest a little easier knowing they have some hot talent in Champaigne for a few more years……hopefully.

3. Indiana Hoosiers  3.4 A-

Name

Position

ESPN Grade

ESPNU 100

Cody Zeller

PF

97

X

Austin Etherington

SF

91

 

Remy Abell

PG

87

 

IU brings in Cody Zeller, the #4 ranked Power Forward in this class.  I see Zeller being the only freshman tossed into a starting role, if not he’ll get solid playing time.  As for the other two I believe they’ll get minutes and build experience to increase their value in the years to come.  I give IU such a high grade solely on the signing of Zeller. He’s gotten a ton of hype and if he can live up to that hype in the near future this grade will have been earned and not given. 

4. Wisconsin Badgers 3.25 A-

Name

Position

ESPN Grade

ESPNU 100

Jarrod Utoff

PF

92

 

Frank Kaminsky

C

92

 

George Marshall

PG

88

 

Traevan Jackson

SG

88

 

Jordan Smith

SG

77

 

The Badgers have added a dependable class this season.  They failed to sign an ESPNU 100 recruit but Bo Ryan does a really good job of not only getting good recruits that fit his system but he does and outstanding job developing his players to play in his system.  These five recruits have a lot of talent and I predict in a few years this will be the team everyone will be looking out for and talking about in the Big Ten. 

5. Michigan Wolverines 3.2 A-

Name

Position

ESPN Grade

ESPNU 100

Carlton Brundidge

SG

94

X

Trey Burke

PG

93

 

Max Bielfedt

PF

87

 

The loss of Darius Morris is huge to the Wolverines who would have had one of the top returning groups in the Big Ten.  However, Michigan is bringing in Trey Burke who receieved a 93 grade from ESPN at the point guard position.  It’s always tough starting a freshman…especially at the point guard spot. But, Aaron Craft did it last season for OSU and look how successful they were! Though this recruiting class is small for the Wolverines I like what they’re bringing in and it will be very interesting to see how they do these next couple years. 

6. Michigan State Spartans 3.1 A-

Name

Position

ESPN Grade

ESPNU 100

Branden Dawson

SF

96

X

Brandan Kearney

SG

91

 

Travis Trice

PG

90

 

This is a good class for the Spartans. They lost pretty much the entirety of their back court from last season. As you can see they’re bringing in three 90+ ESPN ranked guards. These three may not have huge impacts instantly but give them at least a year to grow and I see these guys possibly becoming the next Robbie Hummel, E’Twaun Moore, and JuJuan Johnson for the Spartans. 

7. Minnesota Golden Gophers 3.0 A-/B+

Name

Position

ESPN Grade

ESPNU 100

Andre Hollins  

SG

93

X

Joe Coleman

SG

92

X

Julian Welch

SG

40

 

Andre Ingram

PF

40

 

With the Gophers losing both Hoffarber and Al Nolen the two ESPNU 100 Shooting Guards are a huge addition for Minnesota.  I look to the top two Gopher recruits to have exceptional freshman seasons! With the low grades of the other two Gopher recruits Hollins and Coleman really boost the grading curve for this incoming class. 

8. Purdue Boilermakers 2.85 B+

Name

Position

ESPN Grade

ESPNU 100

Jacob Lawson  

PF

91

 

Donnie Hale

PF

91

 

Purdue didn’t land many recruits whatsoever but they landed some prospects in a much needed area.  The Boilers front court is very thin and lacks talent.  If Lawson recovered well from his knee injury he suffered last season he should be a valuable asset to the Boilermakers right from the get go.  I look for Donnie Hale to get solid minutes as a freshman and by his Junior year him and Lawson will be forces to reckon with. Should be an interesting season for Boiler nation to say the least. 

9. Northwestern Wildcats 2.8 B+

Name

Position

ESPN Grade

ESPNU 100

Tre Demps  

PG

90

 

Mike Turner  

PF

88

 

David Sobolewski

PG

85

 

Northwestern brings in a small but rather talented class that’ll fit into their style of play pretty easily.  I don’t believe they’ll have a huge impact early on in their careers with the Wildcats but they should turn out to be solid players in their later years with the Wildcats.

10.  Nebraska Cornhuskers 2.75 B

Name

Position

ESPN Grade

ESPNU 100

David Rivers  

SF

90

 

Corey Hilliard

PG

88

 

Josiah Moore

SG

88

 

Dylan Talley

SG

40

 

I’m not too familiar with Nebraska just yet. I’ll have to watch some of their games when they’re on the tube and do some scouting. But, the Cornhuskers did lose most of their scoring from a year ago and have brought in some solid guards and a shooting forward to help fill the voids. We’ll see how the Cornhuskers do this season and I’ll have more expertise on them as the season goes on. 

11 and 12. Iowa and Penn State tie with a B 2.7 grade. 

Name

Position

ESPN Grade

Team 

Ross Travis

SF

89

Penn State

Pat Ackerman

C

88

Penn State

Trey Lewis

PG

88

Penn State

Peter Alexis

C

87

Penn State

Matt Glover

SG

40

Penn State

Josh Ogelsby

SG

91

Iowa

Aaron White

SF

89

Iowa

Gabe Olaseni

C

40

Iowa

There’s really not much hope for these recruits with the schools they’ve chosen to attend…immediately that is. I feel that all but two of these recruits will have a valuable impact on their respected squads in the years to come. Only time will tell though!

I can’t wait for this season to get under way!

 

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As the 2011-2012 mens college basketball season is quickly approaching I’m starting to think more and more of which players I, and the rest of the world, should watch for.  So far I’ve only taken a look at the Big Ten and have come up with the top 21 players I think will have the biggest impacts for their teams.  Obviously the #1 player I believe will have the biggest impact and is the guy everyone should pay the most attention to.

Michigan Wolverines

Name

2010-2011 stats

Points/game

Rebounds/game

Assists/game

FG %

FT %

#1 Tim Hardaway Jr.

13.9

3.8

1.7

.420

.765

# 17 Zach Novak

*3Pt %=.385

8.9

5.8

1.6

.383

.831

Tim Hardaway Jr. I feel will have the biggest impact for his team in the Big Ten.  He’s young and committed to being a star.  I foresee his near 14 ppg last season to rise significantly as he’ll have to take on more of a scoring load for the Wolverines.  When this starts happening I see teams keying him and doing their best to take away as many scoring opportunities from him as possible forcing him to distribute the ball to his teammate Zach Novak.  As you can see Novak basically shot 39% from behind the arc for Michigan last season.  That’s one heck of an average  and if he can keep that up it’ll be a great season for the Wolverines and their fans.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Name

2010-2011 stats

Points/game

Rebounds/game

Assists/game

FG %

FT %

#2 Jared Sullinger

17.2

10.2

1.2

.541

.784

#11 William Buford

14.4

3.9

2.9

.462

.843

Jared Sullinger was possibly the best player in the Big Ten last season. He’s unarguably the best freshman in the Big Ten. He’s back for round two with the Buckeyes and I’m interested to see how he responds to such a successful first season with the Buckeyes.  He averaged a double-double last season and I don’t see that to change much.  However, his points per game may drop a bit for I see teams working on doubling him up when he gets the ball down low.  The only thing that worries me about Sullinger is his Field Goal percentage.  For a big man he shoots just over 50%.  This is absolutely something that he needs to improve.  Ohio State also has 5th year senior William Buford returning to help lead the Buckeyes.  With the anticipation of double teams on Sullinger I see Buford’s role in scoring to go up.  Aaron Craft, the Buckeyes point guard, will have many options, as he did last season, to distribute the ball to. Having these two guys back increases your chances to succeed significantly.

Purdue Boilermakers

Boiler fans look forward to seeing this image erased from memory when Hummel takes to the court this season

Name

2010-2011 stats

Points/game

Rebounds/game

Assists/game

FG %

FT %

#3 Robbie Hummel

*2009-2010 stats

15.7

6.9

2.1

.456

.902

#9 Lewis Jackson

8

3.2

4

.503

.716

#15 Jacob Lawson

Incoming Freshman

Robbie Hummel is undoubtedly a huge key to success for the Boilermakers this season.  When thinking back to last season if Robbie Hummel wouldn’t have gotten hurt I think the Big Ten would have turned out quite differently and Purdue would have made the Final Four.  It will definitely be interesting to see how Robbie comes out of his second tear to his ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament).  The Boilermakers will be leaning on his leadership and abilities no doubt.  Lewis Jackson also surprised many critics last season with his terrific play. He took much better care of the ball than in past years and also became a well accepted 3rd/4th option scorer.  I only see Jackson picking up where he left off and his skills and knowledge of the game are vital for the Boilermakers to have success this upcoming season.  As for Jacob Lawson, it’s been rumored that he’ll be the starting at center for the Boilermakers.  For those unaware Lawson too is coming off a knee injury he suffered last season (high school).  Lawson was the top ranked recruit Purdue has coming in and big things are expected out of him early.

Minnesota Gophers

Name

2010-2011 stats

Points/game

Rebounds/game

Assists/game

FG %

FT %

#4 Trevor Mbakwe

13.9

10.5

1.3

.582

.629

#7 Ralph Sampson III

10.2

5.4

1.6

.471

.739

Minnesota may struggle this season with the loss of Hofbarber.  With this well known fact to Tubby Smith and his team they’ll need both Mbakwe and Sampson III to step up big and take not only huge leadership roles but they’ll both need to take on an extra emphasis on scoring.  These two are no doubt impact players and should be fun to watch this year.  With Minnesota’s home court advantage it should be very interesting to see how these two can control games and put up big numbers to lead their Golden Gophers to victories.

Wisconsin Badgers

Name

2010-2011 stats

Points/game

Rebounds/game

Assists/game

FG %

FT %

#5 Jordan Taylor

18.1

4.1

4.7

.433

.832

# 14 Mike Bruesewitz

4.6

3.1

1

.471

.759

The Wisconsin Badgers are losing some key players from last season. Mainly Jon Leuer.  Jordan Taylor posted an impressive 18 ppg last season at the point guard position.  It’s going to be very interesting to see how he responds to losing two other top 5 scores from last season’s squad.  Taylor has the ability to get through the lane and to the bucket. He also has the finishing ability to drive opposing coaches crazy.  It’s no secret that Mike Bruesewitz is going to have to step his game up to support Taylor and Bo Ryan in hopes of obtaining the Big Ten Title and a deep run into the NCAA Tournament. Bruesewitz is mostly known as a hustle player and his determination and hustle helps boost his value for the Badgers.  If he can improve his game and mix his improved skills with his hustle and determination he’ll be a much more valuable asset to Bo Ryan and his teammates.

Indiana Hoosiers

Name

2010-2011 stats

Points/game

Rebounds/game

Assists/game

FG %

FT %

#6 Cody Zeller

*Incoming Freshman

#8 Christian Watford

16

5.4

1.1

.422

.843

#12 Verdell Jones III

12.5

3.3

3.2

.448

.672

Cody Zeller is one of the highest, top-ranked recruits for this incoming freshman class.  His impact on the Hoosiers could play a huge factor on how well the Hoosiers do this season.  Watford averaged 16 ppg and Verdell averaged 12.5 ppg.  If Zeller is even half the player people expect him to be I look for these numbers to drop just a bit.  However, I think Watford’s rebounds per game need to improve if the Hoosiers want consistent success, especially in Big Ten play, this season.  Verdell’s shooting percentage as a guard alarms me.  His low percentage explains all too well IU’s recent lack of success.  If Zeller plays halfway up to expectations, Watford increases his boards per game, and Jones III increases his shooting percentage by taking better shots and getting to the basketball Indiana  could pull off one of the biggest turn a rounds in any program’s history.

Illinois Fighting Illini

Name

2010-2011 stats

Points/game

Rebounds/game

Assists/game

FG %

FT %

#10 Brandon Paul

9

3.1

2.1

.399

.767

# 16 D.J. Richardson

8.4

1.8

1.9

.415

.758

The Fighting Illini lost a bunch of valuable assets from last year’s team.   Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson both have the ability to step their game up to the point where they lead Illinois to a very successful season. Both of these players being guards they’ll have to up their rebounds per game to help the weak inside game of this team.  These two players will also be forced to pick up the scoring responsibilities if they want team success this year.  One place to start, improve free throw shooting.  Shooting 75% from the charity stripe isn’t bad but both players need to step it up a few notches and take advantage of the opportunities presented to them at the free throw line.

Northwestern Wildcats

Name

2010-2011 stats

Points/game

Rebounds/game

Assists/game

FG %

FT %

#13 John Shurna

*3pt %= .434

16.6

4.9

2.6

.481

.707

As in the recent past Northwestern’s  success depends on the play of John Shurna.  Shurna has the ability to light up the score board from behind the arc. If he gets hot he’s almost unstoppable.  His field goal and three point percentages are both higher than 40% which is every coaches dream.  If Shurna and the Wildcats can catch a few more breaks they’ll have a chance to surprise many teams in the Big Ten this season.  Shurna, if healthy, is always a ton of fun to watch and I’ll be keeping my eyes out for him throughout the season.  Look for Shurna to turn to his shooting abilities to lead the Wildcats to some interesting upsets.

Michigan State Spartans

Name

2010-2011 stats

Points/game

Rebounds/game

Assists/game

FG %

FT %

#18 Draymond Green

17.6

8.6

4.1

.426

.683

With Michigan State losing most of its scoring from last season the Spartans are going to have to rely on Draymond Green to step up and take on the scoring load. 17.6 points per game is a lot but he, and the Spartans, are going to need more.  Michigan States Success depends on Green’s success.

Team Name Rank
Iowa Matt Gatens # 19
Nebraska Jorge Brian Diaz # 20
Penn State Tim Frazier # 21

These three teams need these players to step up and lead them on their journey this upcoming season.  In order for these teams to have any success they each need their main/star player to have strong seasons in hopes of making it into the pool for the NCAA Tournament.

For your liking to compare these players in their play last year (or otherwise specified).

Name 2010-2011 stats Points/game Rebounds/game Assists/game FG % FT %
#1 Tim Hardaway Jr.

13.9

3.8

1.7

.420

.765

#2 Jared Sullinger

17.2

10.2

1.2

.541

.784

#3 Robbie Hummel

*2009-2010 stats

15.7

6.9

2.1

.456

.902

#4 Trevor Mbakwe

13.9

10.5

1.3

.582

.629

#5 Jordan Taylor

18.1

4.1

4.7

.433

.832

#6 Cody Zeller

*Incoming Freshman

#7 Ralph Sampson III

10.2

5.4

1.6

.471

.739

#8 Christian Watford

16

5.4

1.1

.422

.843

#9 Lewis Jackson

8

3.2

4

.503

.716

#10 Brandon Paul

9

3.1

2.1

.399

.767

#11 William Buford

14.4

3.9

2.9

.462

.843

#12 Verdell Jones III

12.5

3.3

3.2

.448

.672

#13 John Shurna

*3pt %= .434

16.6

4.9

2.6

.481

.707

# 14 Mike Bruesewitz

4.6

3.1

1

.471

.759

#15 Jacob Lawson

Incoming Freshman


It’s no secret that the Big Ten is one of the most brutal conferences to play in. Whether it be football or basketball there always seems to be that under dog that surprises everyone at home against the top ranked team in the conference.

 

In this post I’m going to lay out the toughest places to play in the Big Ten.  I’ll state that the numbers that I’ve found could be a tad bit off but are none the less accurate and are from the recent past (starting at 2004 or even later). However, the teams overall history and home court advantage/presence was taken into thought when writing this post.  Without further ado here’s my list of the Big Ten toughest places to play!

1.  Wisconsin. 

The Badgers hold a modest 85-35 conference record dating back from 2004 to the present.  The only other team to match that many wins in the same time is Ohio State.  I’ve been to a game inside the Kohl Center and the noise level is crazy! What’s even more impressive about the game I attended in Wisconsin was that there was literally a blizzard going on.  Fans still showed up to support the Badgers in a close win last season (2010-2011) over the Purdue Boilermakers.  The fans make the home court advantage for the Badgers and they show up game in and game out regardless of weather and lay into the opposing team with heated hatred (but respectful) and support for their home team!

2. Indiana

Indiana has a terrible recent record in the Big Ten (32-56). But, that’s during the Tom Crean and Kelvin Sampson eras.  Which, to say the least, have been overwhelmingly disappointing for IU fans for the past 5 seasons.  However, contrary to the recent past of IU’s basketball program it’s hard to argue that Assembly Hall in Bloomington is one of the toughest, and many could argue the toughest, arenas to play in.  IU has possibly the most loyal fans of any college basketball team out there and they show that every game that’s played in Assembly Hall.   Regardless  of IU’s lack of success recently they play their best and even better than their abilities when they play in Assembly Hall.  That’s why I rank IU so high. 

3. Michigan State

The Spartans boast a very respectable 79-41 conference record in the past seven seasons.  During this time they’ve posted six 20+ win seasons and one at 19 wins.  What Tom Izzo has done at Michigan State is remarkable and when visiting the Breslin Student Events Center you can bet your butt it’s going to be a tough battle! Sparty and his fans bring their all every game and let the opposing team know it.  Earning them the 3rd toughest place to play in the Big Ten!

4. Three way tie between Ohio State, Illinois, and Purdue.  I couldn’t decide on which team really deserves the 4th toughest place to play outright.  I’m leaning more towards Purdue and Ohio State but Illinois sneaks in there with it’s crazy student fan section! 

Ohio State ties Wisconsin with the best conference record since 2004-2005 season with a 85-35 record.  Illinois has a 70-50 and Purdue boasts a humble 63-37 conference record (since 2005-2006).  I’ve been to a couple games in Mackey Arena and I have to say the student section is insane! The atmosphere is awesome and makes the game heck for an opposing fan/team and much more enjoyable for home fans and the team.  I’ve never been able to attend a game at Ohio State or Illinois but I can only imagine how the atmosphere would be inside those arenas. 

If I had to choose a team out of this bunch to hold the #4 spot alone I’d go with Purdue.  For those who didn’t know Purdue has the most Big Ten Titles with 22 and is the ONLY team in the Big Ten to hold winning records against ALL other Big Ten teams. Yes, that takes talent, however, you need some advantage, motivation, and help and the Boilermaker fans give them that edge every game inside Mackey Arena. 

7.  Another tie between Michigan and Minnesota

It’s no doubt that these two schools are incredibly difficult to beat at home. With Michigan’s increasing success and young talent obtaining victories in Crisler Arena (please correct if spelling is off there) will become even more difficult.  But, what makes home court advantage home court advantage? The fans.  These two schools’ fans are incredible and give them a slight advantage every home game.  I’ve ranked these two arenas so low due to the lack of rich rich history.  However, that can change and it wouldn’t surpise me if it does.  I also have Minnesota here because they always seem to be upsetting top of the conference teams at home. Last season (2010-2011) they upset Purdue and the year before Robbie Hummel tore his ACL during this game in Williams Arena aka The Barn.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see more upsets happen in these stadiums in the near future. 

9.  Northwestern and Penn State…..yes another tie.

It’s difficult to distinguish who should be where after a certain point with these rankings as I can personally see either team in any of these ties holding the same spot.  However, neither of these teams have boasted incredible conference records. Especially at home.  Though, Northwestern is unarguably improving and have some special upsets in the recent past and have held many, thought to be, power schools close.  Penn State is on the same page as Northwestern to me.  This could all change with Ed Dechellis and Taylor Battle leaving the program.  Dechellis resigned as Head Coach and Taylor Battle graduated. This could effect fan morale and fan support.  However, that’s the future and not history….which this post is focused on. 

11. Believe it or not another tie!

Iowa and Nebraska.  Iowa is no doubt rebuilding it’s basketball program and has a decent fan base. But, I’m not sold that they have much, if any, home court advantage behind their backs. As for Nebraska this will be their first season in the Big Ten.  They don’t have much experience against Big Ten schools and I’m not convinced that they’ll have much of an advantage at home against many schools in the Big Ten.

That’s all I have for this post. I hope you enjoyed it and I’m more than open to hearing any comments or thoughts!

Thanks for reading everyone


Cuonzo led Missouri State to a 61-41 record including the regular season Missouri Valley Conference Championship and won MVC Coach of the Year honors

The Tennessee Volunteers announced today that they have hired Missouri State coach Cuonzo Martin.  Tennessee’s Athletic Director stated, “Cuonzo is among the most promising young coaches in the game, and we are excited about the coaching ability, toughness and energy that he brings to our program”.

Martin coached 3 seasons at Missouri State.  His first season he won just 11 games out of 31.  The next season his squad won 24 games and this past season he led Missouri State to 26 wins and the regular season Missouri Valley Conference title.  Cuonzo also coached as an assistant under Gene Keady at his Alma Mater, Purdue University, before coaching at Missouri State. Martin was also the Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year this season.

Cuonzo played at Purdue from 1991-1995 where he ranks 4th in 3-pointers made w/ 179

During his career at Purdue Cuonzo was known for his defensive presence and outstanding ability to hit perimeter jump shots.  He left Purdue 4th all time in 3-pointers made with 179.  Cuonzo then continued his career in the NBA and was drafted 57th in the second round where he shot 60% from beyond the arc.

Cuonzo Martin makes the 5th Division I coach to have played or coached under Gene Keady.  The other four coaches are Bruce Weber (Illinois), Steve Lavin (St. John’s), Kevin Stallings (Vanderbilt), and Matt Painter (Purdue).

I wish the best of luck to Cuonzo Martin and the Tennessee Volunteers. I see a start to a beautiful relationship.

Morehead St. vs Richmond


Richmond took care of business Saturday afternoon against Morehead State.  The Spiders were successful for many reasons.  One of the things that really impressed me about Richmond was their unselfishness with the ball.  They moved the ball very well and for the most part made the extra pass to get the easy jumper or the lay in.  Richmond’s Kevin Smith led the way with 6 assists followed by bench player Kevin Anderson who had 4 assists.

Justin Harper's 19 points against Morehead State helped Richmond advance to the Sweet 16 over Morehead State

None of Richmond’s starters scored in double digits but were led by Justin Harper coming off the bench with 19 points, he also had 3 assists.  Kevin Anderson dropped in 14 points and Dan Geriot contributed by scoring 13.

I also thought that Richmond’s pace really threw Morehead State out of their rhythm.  Too often the Eagles looked to force the pace and ended up taking bad shots.  The Spiders especially worked the shot clock late in the game cutting Morehead State’s possessions.

Not only did Richmond share the ball well and control the pace they made shots.  They shot 48.1% as a team from the field and 69.2% from the free throw line.

The Spiders also played sound defensively.  They played very good team defense and communicated well calling out screens and boxing out.  Although they got out-rebounded 32 to 30 they came up with huge stops down the stretch and really made a point to get to the glass when Morehead St. put up shots.

I feel bad for the Spiders.  Though they’re making a run at being the Cinderella story of the year they’re about to run into the Jayhawks very soon (yes I know Kansas still has to play Illinois before that but that’s my prediction).  I enjoy watching Richmond play and have been rooting for them.  I mean I am an Indiana boy, I kind of have to.  The Spiders are hot right now but a lot can happen in a week.  I think Kansas will handle them pretty well but they will have to watch out for falling into the Spiders web!

Kelsey Barlow Suspension


It’s crazy how fast stories spread around the college basketball world come March.  I love it.  I was promptly informed that Kelsey Barlow had been suspended yesterday from about 12 people within a 20 minute time period. It was nuts. My phone rang non stop.  It began that Barlow was suspended for “conduct detrimental to the team”.  I’ve recently heard more details that he was suspended for failing 3 drug tests within a month time span. I’m not 100% this is the reason but it comes from a reliable source.  I also want to give a few thoughts on how I think this will affect Purdue and their chances at making a run to the Final Four.  I’ll have a piece on Kyrie Irving’s return as well later tonight.

1st of all I think Purdue will be just fine.  Yes, Barlow averaged 19 minutes a game and was a lock down defender but here’s what most people saw.  Kelsey Barlow was a turnover machine.  I can’t remember how many times I yelled at Coach Painter through my TV to get Barlow off the court and Lewis Jackson back in.  I think Barlow is a tremendous athlete and has the potential to blossom into a terrific player someday (and personally I do hope that is with Purdue).  I’ve heard rumors all season that he was a distraction to the team.  I don’t know if that’s true or not but if so that will be good for the Boilers.  When it’s a one and done deal you need to be focused with as little distractions as possible.

Terone's ability to finish at the hoop will help the Boilers with their run in the tournament

Purdue still has Terone Johnson, who I think will be Purdue’s next E’Twaun Moore.  I thank God that Barlow isn’t a post player (Forward or Center) that’s where Purdue really lacks depth.  Terone has the ability to do something Barlow didn’t show that he could do.  Terone can hit jump shots! Sure Barlow could get up there and throw down some ferocious dunks and pump up the team once ever 6 games but, T. Johnson has stepped up huge knocking down 3’s, making smart decisions with the ball, and getting into the lane and getting to the free throw line. Plus he finishes at the rim.  Terone is also a very solid defender.  Maybe not as good as Barlow but he can do his job and play team D that’s needed for Purdue to be successful.  That’s all I really ask out of the young guy.  Play solid defense and make a few shots here and there, and Terone has done that and most of the shots he has hit have been huge.  I actually look forward to seeing Terone get some more playing time.

I haven’t heard the status on John Hart in a while but I’m sure he’s well rested and will be ready to play Friday.  For some of you who aren’t familiar with hart I’ll give you a brief history.  Last season (as a redshirt freshman) Hart came off the bench against the Fighting Illini when Purdue was struggling to get anything going.  Hart had played very few minutes and Painter was making a

John Hart could prove valuable with increased minutes due to the Kelsey Barlow suspension

statement to the older guys.  Soon John scored and all of a sudden there was a stoppage in play.  The coaches had forgotten to put Hart on the roster for that game.  He went on to scored 14 points and lifted the Boilermakers to a victory.  He has the ability to score in bunches and has a good perimeter jump shot.  Hart also scores at good times when either Moore or JaJuan are being shut down or off the floor.  Hart is also a very solid defender. He reminds me of Lewis Jackson, shorter with a good build and solid perimeter defensive skills.  Look for Hart to be a factor in the tourney.

Purdue fans should also keep in mind the adversity Purdue has played against all year.  Raise your hand if you thought Purdue would have finished the season 25-7 and earn a 3 seed after Hummel went down.  Not many of us did, I didn’t. I knew we would still do well but didn’t have these expectations.  Purdue plays what they call “TEAM” basketball.  It’s not just one player like BYU, SDSU, and Sometimes UNC with Harrison Barnes.  Of course we have our two stars but everybody knows their role and contributes when needed.  That’s what makes Purdue a good team and a tough team to beat even without Hummel or Barlow.  So for all you Boilermaker fans out there continue to BOILER UP and HAMMER DOWN on all who may get in their way!

1st Round Predictions!


I have a few thoughts on this Thursday’s match ups.  I think the nation will be shocked by what they will see and even more shocked by my predictions and upsets I have picked. All these games I have on my bracket (I only have one bracket. I hate people who have a billion brackets filled out.  Your bound to be successful in one pool if you fill out 10 brackets, amateurs).

East Region: 1st Round

The Sycamores have the ability to shoot lights out from behind the arc. Don't be surprised if they pull off the 1st round upset

  • Obviously I have Ohio State advancing.
  • George Mason/Villanova is a tough pick but I’m going with George Mason
  • West Virginia over the play team (Clemson/UAB)
  • Kentucky over Princeton
  • I have Xavier over Marquette
  • Indiana St. over Syracuse ( I know I’m crazy but, I have a feeling ISU will shoot well against the zone. That’s  just me though)
  • Washington over Georgia big time
  • North Carolina over Long Island

West Region: 1st Round

Oakland has shown their ability to put up points in bunches. Look for the high scoring Golden Grizzlies to show up the low scoring Longhorns of Texas

  • Duke over Hampton, of course
  • Michigan over The Vols
  • Arizona over Memphis
  • Oakland > Texas.  Call me crazy but Texas has been struggling to score and the boys from Oakland have experience and can put points on the board. They put up 100+ twice this season including once in their conference tourney
  • Mizzou bests Cincy
  • Uconn pounds Bucknell
  • Penn St pulls out the shocker
  • San Diego State gets past Northern Colorado

Southwest Region: 1st Round

Kelsey Barlow has been suspended for the remainder of the season. His lockdown D could be missed in the backcourt when Lewis Jackson needs a breather

  • Kansas over Boston (Kansas has a crappy track record against teams that start with “B”. Does Bucknell or Bradley ring a bell?) However, I think the Jayhawks have this one
  • Illinois over UNLV
  • Vandy over Richmond, this was a tough one to pick too
  • Louisville > Morehead St. Gotta love the in state match up though!
  • Georgetown over play in (USC/VCU)
  • Purdue over St. Peter’s (Although losing Kelsey Barlow for the season hurts I think Purdue has enough guard depth, offensively, to still make a run)
  • Texas A&M over Florida St. I have no clue on this one. Simply went with the higher seed on this one
  • Notre Dame over Akron

Southeast Region: 1st Round

The Aggies won 30 games this season. Look for them to come out confident against the inconsistent kansas State Wildcats

  • Pitt over NC-Ashville
  • Butler ousts Old Dominion
  • Utah St pulls out a thriller against Kansas St ( I don’t care who you play you don’t win 30 games by accident.  I see Utah St. shocking the nation only in the new 2nd round, field of 64)
  • Wisconsin over Belmont. Bo Ryan will have his guys ready to go
  • St. John’s I feel will clobber Gonzaga
  • BYU escapes a close one against Wofford
  • Michigan State surprises everybody by actually showing up to play and beating UCLA
  • Florida wins it’s only game of the tournament against UC-Santa Barbara

I’ve mentioned in a reply to a comment that I’ve received that I’m unhappy and strongly disagree with some of the seedings.  Some of the match ups will be interesting and I see a lot of potential upsets.  The above mentioned upsets may sound ridiculous but how many people picked George Mason to make the run they made a few years back? They may be unlikely and I realize this.  However, anything can happen and if I call these games correctly I look like a genius and if not who really cares. I could care less either way.

I would like to hear all of your thoughts and points of views.  Especially if you think some different upsets may happen I’d be very interested in hearing your reasons of why.  Leave a comment and let everyone else know your opinion.

Thanks everybody for reading!

March Madness Baby!


Finally, March is here!  I know it’s been a long while since I’ve posted.  I spent my spring break in the Bahamas without internet access.  It was difficult not being able to keep up with all the scores and games but I can’t complain, I was in the Bahamas.

For this post I’m just going to post a few thoughts about Selection Sunday and some of the match ups.  This years tournament is crazy.  I strongly disagree with some of the seeding and with who got in and who didn’t.  I’m not going to get into all the numbers or reasons as to why I think a team should have or shouldn’t have gotten in.  But here are some teams I really thought should have gotten in.

1. I really thought Colorado should have gotten in.  Every one knows that it’s hard to beat a team 3 times in one season.  Colorado did that against Kansas State this year.  Yeah, KSU may have not had their expectations met but they’re still a good team.  Colorado took care of business against them.  They also have wins over Texas and Missouri.  Colorado had 21 wins this year.  Most of their losses came in the Big 12, a tough conference to play in.  I think Colorado deserved to get in…especially over Georgia or Illinois

2. Virginia Tech I thought should have been in as well.  VT’s resume isn’t as strong as some others but I do think the Hokies should’ve been given a chance.  I can easily pick a few teams that I don’t think should be in where VT would fit well (or more deserving).  Virginia Tech has wins over Florida State, Penn State, and Duke and some close losses to Purdue and North Carolina.  I think Malcolm Delaney could have made things interesting in this years tournament.

3. I’m not sure why but I’m a big fan of Missouri State this year.  They come out of the Missouri Valley Conference which has provided some very interesting games in the tournament in years past (including Northern Iowa’s upset over 1 seed Kansas in 2010 as a 9 seed).  The Bears don’t have many shocking wins but put up a very close game against Tennessee.  I still don’t agree with some of the teams that got in and I feel like it would have been fun to watch Missouri State make some noise in this years big dance.

A few teams that I think shouldn’t have made it are the following:

  • UAB
  • Clemson
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • USC
  • VCU

To me these teams lucked into the tournament.  These teams did not impress me during the season and I feel the Selection Committee could have chosen different teams that would have made the tournament more enjoyable to watch. Such as Alabama, Cleveland State, Saint Mary’s,even Harvard should have made it, and the fore mentioned teams above.

I’m also a little heated over some of the seedings that some teams received.  I was very surprised that Georgia (who was supposedly a bubble team) got a 10 seed.  I was really confused when I saw North Carolina receive a 2 seed as well as Florida.  Both the ACC and SEC were pretty weak conference this season and I don’t feel as if either team truly deserved a 2 seed.  San Diego State finally has an opportunity to prove me wrong.  I can’t believe they received a 2 seed over BYU who beat them twice.  Personally I have Penn State beating San Diego State.  That’s how much I disrespect SDSU, plus Talor Battle is on fire as of late.

I thought Texas and Louisville deserved a 2 seed.  I also think St. Johns should have been seeded higher.  Other than that I thought the seeds were distributed as they should have been.  This years tournament should be very interesting and I “CAN’T WAIT” (to quote the infamous Bart Scott) til Thursday when the tourney takes off on the road to crown 2011’s National Champion!

Big Ten Brutes


It’s no lie that the Big Ten is a tough conference.  The Big Ten currently has 5 teams ranked in the top 25 (ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll) and 1 team receiving votes.  To me this is impressive.  Only the  Big East has more ranked teams with 8, and that’s out of a 16 team conference.   I would be surprised to see the Big Ten  pick up any more ranked teams starting conference play.  The Big Ten is going to beat the crap out of each other…literally.  As for the Big East, I see them losing ranked teams as conference play continues.

When I look at the Big Ten a few teams stick out to me.  Of course Purdue, Michigan State, and Ohio State.  Some might be questioning my mentioning of Michigan St.  Yes, it’s true that they’ve only posted a sub par 9-4 record but remember their strength of schedule.  Tom Izzo even said that he was concerned with the amount of miles he was putting on his team traveling wise earlier this season, let alone the opponents they were playing (Duke, Uconn, Syracuse, and Texas who are all ranked).  Michigan State is and will continue to be a tough team to beat.  A lot of people seem to be selling Purdue short still.  That’s fine, I like flying under the radar.  Flying under the radar with a #10 rank isn’t heard of very often.

Ohio State.  Here’s where I’ll probably upset some readers but it’s my blog and this is how I roll.  I don’t see Ohio State holding on to their #2 ranking or even maintaining a top ten rank.  I think Sullinger is relied upon too much by the Buckeyes and this will hurt them come conference play.  The Big Ten is full of top notch big men and I think this will get to Sullinger and frustrate him.  Let me not fail to mention that Ohio State hasn’t played anybody! I see the Buckeyes flopping like a fish out of water once they get into conference play.

I also want to mention some teams to keep an eye out for in the Big Ten.  Illinois(#20), Wisconsin, Michigan, and Northwestern.  Illinois and Wisconsin always find themselves at the top of the conference making runs at the conference title.  Bo Ryan will have his Badgers ready to go every Big Ten game especially at home.  Illinois, let’s face it.  They figure out ways to win better than any other team in the Big Ten.  That’s what they do.  Michigan and Northwestern, well they make me nervous every time my Boilermakers play them. They have players and the ability to upset any team any night.  These two teams are no push over wins for anybody.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see either of these teams finish in the top 5 of the conference.

And…let’s not forget the ferocious Minnesota Gophers.  Currently ranked 21st I see them not winning the conference but making things interesting.  I think the Gophers, led by Coach Tubby Smith, have the potential to beat just about anybody.  They too make me nervous when they play Purdue.  After all, it was at Minnesota where Robbie Hummel tore his ACL! The Boilers ended up winning that game but it was ugly.  Penn State also has the potential to stir things up and make things interesting in the Big Ten.

Due to the tough schedule of the Big Ten I think this year your conference champion will have anywhere from 3 to 4 losses.  Plus, basketball (like all sports) is a funny game and anything can happen.  Here’s how I think the Big Ten will play out:

1-Purdue, 2-Michigan State, 3-Wisconsin, 4-Illinois, 5-Northwestern, 6-Ohio State, 7-Minnesota, 8-Indiana, 9-Michigan, 10-Penn State, 11-Iowa

I also see the Big Ten sending 7, if not 8 teams to the big dance.  Because of how this conference will pan out I think the seeds that these teams earn won’t represent how good they actually are.  And going on a gut feeling I see Wisconsin winning the Big Ten Tournament.