Tag Archive: Michigan State Spartans



The first State Farm Champions Classic has been filled with emotion and excitement. The first game ended with Coach Krzyzewski’s Duke Blue Devils finishing off the Michigan State Spartans 74-69.  This game was significant in more ways than just one. Not only did this game start  the 3 year 4 team rotation that will be known as the State Farm Champions Classic but, it also set a new all-time record. As many of you know already Coach K has set the coaches win record surpassing Bob Knight with 903 career wins.

In my opinion Michigan State played a much better game than expected.  They really made the game exciting and Coach K’s victory that much more special.  Bob Knight and Jay Bilas were  in attendance at the game as commentators.  Coach K played his college ball under Bob Knight and coached Jay Bilas during Bilas’ college playing days.

As I sit here typing up this post the Kentucky/Kansas game is taking place and Kansas looks awful. Currently losing 48-37 with 12:55 left to go in the second half.  As I watch this game I think of what’s on the line for each team that is participating in this event.

Duke:

Duke seems to be the only team expected to give North Carolina a challenge. Well, at least everyone I’ve talked to thinks so.  Yes, North Carolina is going to be tough to beat but, so is Duke.  Duke has a lot of experience coming back and even though they lost some very very valuable and important assets from last season Duke brought in Austin Rivers, the highly talented freshman recruit and others.  It’s still very early on in the season and I expect freshman for any team to struggle a bit, which was Rivers’ case tonight against Michigan State. With Coach K in charge and the return of many talented players I look for Duke to make a Final Four appearance this season.

Michigan State:

This is undoubtedly a big ole question mark of a season for the Spartans and their loyal fans.  So far, they’re 0-2 but, they’ve played both North Carolina (Carrier Classic) and Duke.  Two extremely solid and talented teams.  Not the typical start of the season as most teams around the same caliber as Michigan State have played scrub teams.  It’s tough to say how well the Spartans will do this year but I think their fortunes will be much better than what I previously thought.  With two good showings this early in the season against top notch opponents I see this Spartan team to hit it’s stride right around Big Ten Tournament play and surprise some teams.

Kentucky: 

Kentucky is completely dominating this Jayhawks team. This team is very intense and solid. Though they started out a little sloppy and seemed to be overly selfish in the first half they’ve come out in this second half and have played exemplary team basketball. They’ve began sharing the ball and getting the KU defenders out of place and most importantly have hit their open shots that they’ve earned.  On the defensive end on the floor they’ve played outstanding team defense! If a KU ball handler gets by his defender he’s almost immediately cut off by help side D.  I think this is good news and will just keep UK fans running their mouth about how awesome UK is.  Little do they know, Calipari will have screwed them over like he did Memphis when the NCAA finds out he cheated…..again.  Overall? Should be a solid season for UK but I see Vanderbilt surprising this team and making the SEC interesting.

Kansas:

Simply looks terrible. Not the KU team fans are used to seeing in Lawrence.  If Kansas can’t find a few more options to lean on throughout the season it’ll be a long season for KU fans.  If Elijah Johnson continues to believe he needs to be the leading scorer, assist man, and the team KU could be in trouble.  Let’s hope they learn from this loss and can turn it up a ton of notches and compete in the Big XII.  If not, Baylor just may run away with it this season on the Big XII.

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The frist ever game to be played on a ship will take place this Friday! The game will be on a Navy carrier on Veterans Day in support of the duties and sacrifices all service men and women give freely to this great country, America. 

The first ever Carrier classic is between, highly favored to win the National Championship, North Carolina and Michigan State.  Needless to say this should be an interesting season for the Spartans. Having lost almost all of their starters and leading scorers from a season ago should lead to a frustrating season for Spartan fans.  But, never count Tom Izzo out. He’s one of the best NCAA coaches and has potential to surprise the doubters, which includes me. 

Let’s take a look at this matchup.  The Tar Heels have a loaded team.  They literally lost just under 10 points per game from a season ago (Justin Knox and Larry Drew II who together averaged 9 ppg).  They also have an incredible freshman class coming into Chapel Hill this season.  With Barnes and Zeller teaching the young guys what it means to be a Tar heel and to lead this team NC fans will have a lot to cheer and brag about.

Now compare that to the Michigan State Spartans. The Spartans had a promising team last season and high expectations but, they didn’t perform well and lost a few games in non-conference play and were slaughtered by a Purdue Boilermaker team that was hosting the College Gameday staff.  On top of that disappointing season the Spartans also lost practically their entire team. Draymond Green returns, which should give some light and hope, to lead this dwindled down group.  The Spartans, in their entire returning class, have a lousy 38% of their scoring returning.  Compare that to the Tar Heels who have 93% of last years scoring coming back. 

With many unanswered questions on this Spartan squad this is not the way I would want to start the 2011-2012 season.  Taking on this tough and favorable North Carolina team could lead to a beat down.  I see the Tar Heels walking away with the first Carrier Classic Trophy: ( Pictured Below). 

 


A long while ago I posted my Big Ten 2011-2012 predictions.  Well after looking at them recently knowing for certain whose still at their school and what each school is bringing in, recruiting classes, I’m more or less dumbfounded at who I picked to finish where.  I gave some schools way too much credit and really slapped other teams in the face with my rankings.  So, I’m here today to share my revised Big Ten 2011-2012 mens basketball predictions.

1.  Ohio State Buckeyes

I still think it’s hard to argue that the Buckeyes are going to fall off the top.  Yeah so they’re losing one of the best 3 point shooters to ever play the game in Jon Diebler and a very solid defensive play in David Lighty.  But, the Buckeyes are returning their two top scorers and are bringing in 5 freshman that all received a 91 or higher grade from ESPN, including 4 ESPNU 100 players!  This team is going to be a force to be reckoned with this season.  They play games for a reason so we’ll see how they do.  Still expect high expectations from this squad as we all know Thad Matta is going to.

2. Wisconsin Badgers

I’ve moved Wisconsin up dramatically since my last rankings.  The Badgers are losing two of their top three scorers from last season but Jordan Taylor was only .3 ppg away from being the leading scorer for the Badgers….as a point guard.  Other than that the Badgers are bringing back a solid assortment of players including Josh Gasser, Mike Bruesewitz, and Ryan Evans.   As well as their recruiting class that’s pretty decent.  I don’t expect Wisconsin to lose many games at home this season, they do host the Buckeyes which will be very exciting to watch!

3. Michigan Wolverines

The Wolverines also received a very favorable boost since my last rankings.  After looking over their roster and incoming freshman I realized Michigan didn’t lose much.  Well, they lost Darius Morris but, are replacing him with Trey Burke.  Burke is a freshman but has the ability to distribute the ball more than effectively.  If you’re going to judge a player that hasn’t played yet at the point guard position look at Aaron Craft from Ohio State. True freshman last year for the Buckeyes. He was deadly and gave teams much difficulty.  Michigan is also bringing in shooting guard Carlton Brundidge (I see Carlton and instantly think of Fresh Prince of Bellaire).  Brundidge should be a valuable addition to the already decent shooting back court consisting of Zack Novak and Stu Douglas.  The Wolverines are going to surprise a lot of basketball fans that are expecting the same old no good, pushover Wolverines.  They’ll definitely be a fun team to watch!

4. Purdue Boilermakers

I’ve dropped Purdue down two spots. My reasoning? Simple, they lost two of Purdue’s all-time top 5 scorers! With JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore heading to the NBA due to graduating the Boilers are going to need some support players to step up big! Ryne Smith and D.J. Byrd to be exact. The Boilers do regain Robbie Hummel, whose been out due to knee injuries for most of the past two seasons.  I look for Lewis Jackson and Terone Johnson to step up and pick up the scoring loads that were lost from a season ago.  Defensively? I’m not worried about Purdue. They’ve always played tough, in your face, man-to-man defense that forces a ton of turnovers and I don’t see that changing any time soon.  This season for the Boilermakers is filled with many many question marks.  We’ll see how this squad performs but I still see them finishing with a moderate but successful season.

5. Indiana Hoosiers

Cody Zeller. IU's hot commodity

The Hoosiers also fall back a bit.  Let’s be honest. IU can’t do any worse this season than they did last year.  They’re not losing any of their top 5 scorers from last year and are bringing in an outstanding power forward Cody Zeller.  Zeller should help the Hoosiers out defensively and should be a factor on the offensive end of the floor as well.  Jordan Hulls returns and always seems to fire the Hoosiers up with his hustle play, which is underrated in my mind.  I love hustle players that produce as well.  I don’t see the Hoosiers going on the road to any of the top 4 on this list and beating them, except possibly Purdue due to their rivalry.  Expect good, not great, things out of the Hoosiers this season.  It’s almost a guarantee they’ll be much better than in seasons past.  Cheer up Hoosiers and enjoy a good season!

6. Illinois Fighting Illini

Yes, I realize the Illini are loosing 3 out of 3 of their top scorers from last season.  They’re also loosing Jereme Richmond to the draft.  Richmond had a lot of talent and even more potential to become and Illinois great, but left early for the draft. This could hurt the Illini. However, Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson are coming back and look to lead this team.  The Illini are also bringing in an NCAA top 15 recruiting class according to ESPN.  This class includes 4 ESPNU 100 recruits.  Not only are they ESPNU 100 recruits they also fill positions the Illini needed to fill! They’ll be tossed into the mix early but one can expect them to learn and handle it well.  This will absolutely be more of a learning season for Illinois but it’ll still be more successful than the other half of the conference, no doubt.

7. Minnesota Golden Gophers

It wouldn’t surprise me if the Gophers creep up just a little bit and possibly tie with Illinois or IU.  I believe the former is bound to happen though.  But, for this post I have them ranked at 7.  Minnesota returns their leading scorer Trevor Mbakwe but lose Blake Hoffarber.  Al Nolen is also gone from the mix but thankfully Ralph Sampson III is returning too.  The Gophers are returning a decent lineup but are adding two ESPNU 100 incoming freshman. Both play shooting guard and should split Blake Hoffarber’s spot last season.  They won’t be quite the leader Hoffarber was but they’ll split his scoring and be valuable 3rd option scorers.  I still think the Gophers have much growing to do but think they’ll be alright this coming season.

8. Michigan State Spartans

The Spartans dropped significantly from my last prediction post.  I didn’t realize how many players Michigan State lost (Kalin Lucas, Durrell Summers, Korie Lucious, Delvon Roe, and some others).  The fore mentioned players were all valuable to the Spartans, and they still somehow accomplished underachieving dramatically last year.  Tom Izzo is bringing in a small class as well, but it does include an ESPNU 100 shooting forward Branden Dawson.  I predict it’s going to be a very stressful, learning season for the Spartans and their fans.  What makes it worse is that it starts with the Carrier Classic against #1 ranked North Carolina on November 11!  Get ready Spartan fans, this could be a long season for you.

9. Northwestern Wildcats

John Shurna will undoubtedly lead this team.  With Michael Thompson gone whose going to fill the distraction + productive role for the Wildcats? Drew Crawford? Incoming freshman PG Tre Demps? Honestly I have no idea.  I do know one thing though, Northwestern always seems to play teams extremely tough at home.  Including an upset against Purdue a couple seasons ago.  We’ll see how they finish but I don’t expect them to make the NCAA tournament but could see them having a presence in the NIT.

10. Nebraska Cornhuskers

They’re losing their top scorer from last season, Lance Jeter, who averaged 11.7 ppg.  That’ll force Jorge Brian Diaz to step up and put up bigger numbers for the Cornhuskers.  Losing 2 of their top 3 scorers + only a decent recruiting class + playing in a new conference = very moderate/disappointing season.  I still like their odds compared to Penn State and Iowa though!

12.  Iowa Hawkeyes and Penn State

I skipped to 12 because this is a tie to me.  Both teams have very little talent returning from last season. The talent they do have returning can be great team leaders and producers but in this conference it takes more than just one guy for a team to finish high.  Mix in the inexperienced incoming freshman and you have recipes for disaster.  Again, I don’t have much hope for these two teams, unfortunately for Iowa and Penn State faithful.  Even more unfortunate I’m probably correct with these assumptions.


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!

 


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


I recently read an article where the writer announced the top 10 toughest places he thought there was to play. You may or may not have heard of him but he writes for Yahoo Sports, his name is Jason King.  Here’s his rankings, and I’ll spoil it now Wisconsin was his 4th toughest and Purdue was his overall 9th toughest place.  But, like promised, here you go:

  1. Allen Fieldhouse = Kansas
  2. Cameron Indoor Stadium = Duke
  3. Carrier Dome = Syracuse
  4. Kohl Center = Wisconsin
  5. The Pit = New Mexico
  6. Rupp Arena = Kentucky
  7. Comcast Center = Maryland
  8. Petersen Events Center = Pittsburgh
  9. Mackey Arena = Purdue
  10. Bramlage Coliseum = Kansas State

Also mentioned were: North Carolina, Oklahoma State, Villanova, Arizona, Michigan State, Illinois, Vanderbilt, Texas, BYU, and Memphis. 

I agree with most of his rankings. However, I don’t see how The Pit for New Mexico made the list at all and I disagree with the Comcast Center’s placement.  What in the heck has New Mexico done in the last 20 years basketball wise? Nothing is what I can think of.  And Maryland hasn’t been good in years. To me when considering what arena’s should be thought of as “tough to play in” I think of the program’s recent success.  How well do they thrive off their crowd? How dominant is this team? Especially at home? When I think about the toughest places to play I don’t think about how the arena was constructed, how many people can fit inside, nor how loud it could get if everybody in the stadium was screaming.  Personally, New Mexico and Maryland just don’t cut it.  If you ask me North Carolina and Michigan State (or even Texas) should be moved onto the list in place of New Mexico and Maryland.  Oh well I suppose. Everybody has the right to their opinions and has the right to express them.  Shortly I will post my rankings of the toughest places to play in the Big Ten.  And, if you’re a Nebraska fan I apologize now, I have them 12th out of 12. So, stay tuned for my opinions on the toughest Big Ten arenas to play in!

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Carrier Classic


Many of you have most likely heard the news that Michigan State and North Carolina are committed to playing the first ever basketball game on an aircraft carrier.  For those of you who have not heard, well, now you know.  The game is to be played on November 11, 2011 (aka 11/11/11).  Which, is also Veterans Day. The carrier for the game to be played on is yet to be determined as is the approval from the U.S. Navy.  Both schools have already sent in written commitments to the San Diego Sports Commission. This monumental game will be called the Carrier Classic!

Some may love this idea.  Playing one of America’s greatest past times aboard an aircraft carrier on Veterans Day.  How much more patriotic can you get? I would have to agree if I was in the Navy and I heard two big time college basketball programs were going to be playing on an aircraft carrier I would be praying it was my carrier.  Who wouldn’t want to watch this game? I also think it’s a great idea and will be good for our troops.

However, I’m a little hesitant to say that I “agree” with the idea.  It hasn’t been determined whether or not the game will be played at sea or docked.  With that in mind, if it is at sea where at?  As a Communications major I know it is possible to broadcast an event like this live with the technology present.  I really hope this game is played while the ship is docked though.  I know aircraft carriers are huge ships but people can still get sea sick while at sea.  It’s inevitable.  I wonder how this would effect some of the players and coaching staff and heck even the referees. I’m just afraid that this type of game could be uglier than what most people expect if this game is to be played at sea.

As I said before, I like this idea. I think it will be great for our troops and college basketball and bring some pride back to America and an appreciation for all our current and former servicemen and women.  I’m just worried that the quality of the game that will be played could hurt the image of college basketball.  I don’t believe the damage will be significant but I do see room for criticism after this game is played.

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!

Purdue does too


Purdue has also met the following criteria to have the best shot of winning the National Championship:

  1. Have a 10 game win streak at some point during the season
  2. Average double digit margin of victory (MoV) wins
  3. ranked in the preseason top 10

Purdue preseason rank: 8

Purdue MoV: 17.88

Purdue Record: 25-5 (14-3 Big Ten)

Purdue RPI: 6

The Boilermakers are a very intriguing team. They are arguably the hottest team as of right now and have put together quite an impressive season.  After losing Robbie Hummel there were a lot of questions as to how the Boilers would respond. Are they going to pack it up and wait til next year when Robbie’s back? Who is going to be their third scorer? Those are just a couple questions many fans and experts had.

I’ll admit that I did not expect Purdue to play as well as they have of late.  I predicted earlier that Purdue would win the Big Ten, I was close but I have to say my heart wasn’t 100% confident in that prediction.  But Matt Painter and his crew has stepped up to the plate and have answered most of the questions we all had.

However, one question still remains for me.  Who is the third go to guy?  Throughout the season different key players have risen to the occasion and helped propel Purdue to a victory.  DJ Byrd had an amazing game at Wisconsin, but the Boilers barely fell short.  Ryne Smith has continued to knock down threes shooting .448% from behind the arc.  Lewis Jackson, who I used to get nervous about when he was handling the ball, has come up big in multiple games.  Not only as a scorer but as a team leader.  Terone Johnson has done some great things as well with his solid defense and streaky 3 point shooting.  Two guys I think everyone should keep an eye out for in the tournament are John Hart and Kelsey Barlow.  Barlow has the ability to lock down any offensive great and hold them scoreless.  The kid can also jump and has a very quick first step.  If he can get close to the hoop you know he can throw it down.  But, sometimes he can play lackadaisically and doesn’t have much of a jump shot (at least he hasn’t shown it yet if he does).  John Hart is that player that comes form nowhere and hits big shots.  My dad knows a lot about basketball and really likes this kid.  He knows talent when he sees it. I think Purdue’s lack of a solid 3rd scorer is actually a good thing, as long as everyone keeps taking turns stepping up and helping out Moore and Johnson

E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson after their Senior Night Win over the Illinois Fighting Illini

Unsurprisingly the Boilermakers success lies in the Hands of the two senior superstars, E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson.  JaJuan Johnson is averaging 20.5 ppg and 8.0 rpg.  Johnson’s ability to knock down any shot from every spot on the floor makes him literally impossible to stop.  Not only is his presence felt on the offensive end of the floor.  JaJuan is also averaging 2.4 blocks/game.  Including a 7 block game against Michigan State on February 27th.  In that game he also scored 20 points and had 17 rebounds!  I think Johnson should win the Big Ten Player of the Year and should be considered for the National player of the Year.

E’Twaun Moore on more than one occasion has shown his ability to put the ball in the bucket in pressure situations.  He has also shown that he can take over a game and pretty much win it single handedly.  He did so in 38 point performance against then #3 Ohio State.  I think Moore is catching his stride and at a very good time.  We need him to stay hot and help his buddy Johnson lead the Boilers to a hopeful Final Four run.

Before the season started when Robbie Hummel was still healthy everyone had Purdue making the Final Four and a possible championship appearance.  I would like to take a second to recognize Matt Painter’s efforts this season.  He took a team that was demoralized when their star player went down for the season and led them to a 25-5 record and a possible repeat of co-conference champs (need a win against Iowa and Wisconsin to beat Ohio State this weekend) and thoughts of a possibly still making a Final Four run.  I think Matt Painter should also be recognized for consideration for Big Ten and National Coach of the Year.  During a brief conversation with my dad last night he pointed out that Purdue, with the likes of the two senior superstars/supporting cast/and Matt Painter, still have a “legitimate” shot at winning the National Title.  As I said earlier, I’m not sure I agree with my dad and Jay Williams who think they have a shot to win it all.  However, I hope they’re right and I have confidence that Purdue will make it to the Final Four!

And this is for all you Purdue fans out there that still back your team 100% and still have hope! Enjoy! (thanks dad)

Michigan State vs. Ohio State


I would be lying if I said I expected Tom Izzo and the Michigan St. Spartans to walk into Columbus and win against Ohio St.  However, after a very strong first half against the Buckeyes I thought I was watching the Spartan team everybody expected to see this season.  While watching the game on my lagging laptop in the middle of my night class I was able to notice a few things, mainly during the second half.

One thing I noticed very early was the calling of the refs.  I’m not going to blame the Spartans loss on the referee’s but when a team shoots 6 free throws compared to the home teams 29 free throw attempts one has reason to question the calls made during this game.  Michigan State made 5 of their 6 attempts (83.3%) while Ohio State made 23 of their 29 attempts (79.3%).  For all you non-math majors out there that’s 18 more points basically given to the Buckeyes.  Like I said I don’t think the refs cost the Spartans this game but personally I thought there were some pretty one sided calls all night.  When one team shoots 23 more free throws than another team, especially the home team, my “homered” meter sky rockets! However, I will speak my pleasure of the referee who FINALLY called Sullinger for a hooking call with his elbow.  Touche sir, somebody finally got it.

Another thing I noticed was Michigan State turning the ball over in crucial moments.  Not only were the Spartans turning the ball over when they really needed a bucket they were turning the ball over constantly.  The Spartans had 19 turnovers! Compare that to OSU’s 7 and you have yourself a recipe for disaster.  When you have close to 20 turnovers in a game your chances of winning are cut dramatically.  Michigan State averages 14 turnovers per game, this problem could be given credit to MSU’s sub par season thus far.

The last thing I noticed about MSU’s performance tonight was their inability to make shots when they needed to.  This was due in part to turning the ball over and Ohio State’s defense forcing the Spartans offense out of rhythm.  The Spartans simply choked the last 8-10 minutes of the game when making shots really counted.  Granted, Ohio State played really good defense and didn’t let the Spartans get very many good looks.

As mentioned above I didn’t expect to watch MSU beat Ohio State at home tonight.  After Ohio State’s loss in Madison this weekend I had the feeling they would be playing with a bit of a chip on their shoulder.  Coming home after a loss is always a good thing too.  I admit that my predictions on Ohio State earlier this season were far from right.  Even after Ohio State lost to Wisconsin I think they deserve the #1 ranking.  Yeah, many people want to argue for a 3 loss team in Texas but even with Texas’s RPI and Strength of Schedule Ohio State still is the best team in college basketball as of right now.  There was no argument for either Kansas or Texas before Ohio State’s loss and after losing in the Kohl Center, where Wisconsin and Bo Ryan are basically unbeatable, and there still shouldn’t be.  Make no mistake, I am not jumping on the OSU bandwagon. I hate Ohio State just as much as any non-Ohio State fan.  I was born to despise Ohio State and I always will.  But, being a college basketball fan you have to be unbiased and realistic (which some may argue I was not earlier and rightfully so).

Just a side note: I can’t wait until the Badgers at Purdue rematch tomorrow night! I was in Madison when Purdue visited the Kohl Center (I was in the student section decked out in all my Purdue gear) and it was awesome.  I was very surprised by the Boilers early second half surge to take a 9 point lead halfway through the second half.  Even though I knew a win at the Kohl Center was damn near impossible I was a little upset that my Boilers lost.  After the game I realized I snowed in for the Night and had to call up one of my buddies who knows Jordan Taylor, who I actually got to meet and had a brief conversation with.  It was awesome.  But, I look forward to my Boilermakers to reclaim some pride by defeating the Badgers in Mackey Arena tomorrow night! I look for the Boilermakers to reclaim sole position of 2nd place in the Big Ten with a victory of 8 points.