Tag Archive: Thad Matta



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.

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Ohio State has hands down been the most consistent and dominating team all season.  Only slipping up to two tough Big Ten teams during the regular season.  Both losses were on the road at Wisconsin and at Purdue.  However, when they played these two teams at home both margins of victories were 20+ points.  That’s impressive.

David Lighty and Jon Diebler have had the hot shooting hands since the Big Ten tournament.  With Aaron Craft at the point distributing the ball to these two guys and Jared Sullinger Ohio State is a force to be reckoned with.  There’s not much that hasn’t been said about the Buckeyes this year and I have to agree with all that’s been said.  I dogged these guys late in December saying they would fall off once Big Ten play started but they shut me up quickly.  I have nothing but respect for this team.

Sullinger (0) and Buford (44) are the Buckeyes two leading scorers this season

Sullinger is leading the team with 17.2 ppg as a true freshman on the Big Ten regular season Champion team and the Big Ten Conference tournament Championship team.  The kid is a monster.  Just like Kansas he has a great supporting cast in William Buford, second on the team in scoring averaging 14.4 ppg.  I’ve already mentioned the likes of Jon Diebler and the hot hand of David Lighty.  These guys can score and shoot lights out on any given night.  I don’t have the numbers and couldn’t find them but I would guess they have the best shooting percentage of any team remaining during tournament play.

Not only can these guys score but they get after it on the defensive end.  Good old fashioned Big Ten basketball.  You have to love it.  They’re scrappy and in your face.  Their hardwork and focus is a complement to their talent.  I’ve always lived by the saying that, “Hardwork beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”.  Well good luck beating talent that does work hard.  Thad Matta has gotten his team to hit on every cylinder so far in this year’s tournament (all year for that matter) and I expect them to continue to do so.  I don’t see Kentucky being able to pull of the upset but they’ll give the bordering Buckeyes a good game.  To be honest I don’t see Marquette or UNC giving Ohio State much of a fight either. Once Ohio State gets by Kentucky it should be an easy Elite 8 game to advance to the Final Four.

Something to keep in mind.  Back in December I heard some “experts” talking about how Sullinger has given his word that he’ll play at least 2 seasons at Ohio State.  If he gets to the title game and even wins a national championship it could be the end of a beautiful relationship between Sullinger and the Buckeyes.  Just something to keep in mind.

To wrap it up I have my Final Four looking like this.  Ohio State meets the Uconn Huskies  in Houston while the Kansas Jayhawks face off with the Butler Bulldogs! There you have it folks.  I hope my picks have peaked your interest and I thank you for reading my posts!

–Ryan K.

Ohio State Makes the Cut


If you’ve been following my blog the past few days you’ll know that I’m on a streak of writing about an episode of College Basketball Final.  They ran through the 5 teams that have met the criteria of a championship caliber team.  These 5 teams are the Duke Blue Devils, Pittsburgh Panthers, Kansas Jayhawks, Ohio State Buckeyes, and the Purdue Boilermakers.  In this post you’ve probably already guessed that I’ll be writing about Ohio State given the title.  First I’ll review the criteria that has been met the past 10 Mens College Basketball National Champions.

  1. Teams have had win streaks of at least 10 games during the season
  2. Teams average MoV(margin of victory) is at least 10 points per game
  3. Teams must have been ranked in the preseason top 10

As you may also have guessed Ohio State met all three of these criteria making them 1 of 5 that have the best shot of winning the National Championship.

Ohio St.’s preseason ranking: 5 (As I mentioned before from the numbers I have Pittsburgh was also ranked 5th in the preseason)

Ohio St.’s MoV: 19.7

Ohio St.’s Record: 28-2 (15-2 Big Ten)

Ohio St.’s RPI: 2

I would be an idiot to say Ohio State isn’t a good team (although I did say that before they got into conference play. I was obviously wrong).  In fact I think they’ll get to the Championship Game.  One reason is the simple and undeniable fact that Jared Sullinger gets away with tons of fouls on the offensive end of the floor.  I haven’t watched a guy get away so many hooks (hooking your elbow around your defender giving you leverage as you push the defender clear of your desired path).  If for some reason the referees decide to start making that call I think Ohio State will face some bumps in the road.  Do I still think they’ll make it to the Championship game? Yes, I do.  That’s just my knock against the NCAA/Big Ten referees not making the right calls.  Sullinger is a very talented athlete and plays with an extremely gifted supporting cast.

The Buckeyes high five after a foul and a bucket

Thad Matta is also a very intelligent coach.  Ohio State only has 2 losses this season, #14 Wisconsin and #11 Purdue (All three of these teams are currently ranked in the top 10; OSU=1, Purdue=6, Wisconsin=10).  I do not blame either loss on Ohio State, both games were on the road.  Not many teams can go into the Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin and pull off a win.  Playing Purdue in Mackey Arena is one of the toughest things to do as well, Purdue and Wisconsin both went undefeated at home this year too.

Ohio State currently ranks 20th in the nation in scoring (77.4ppg), 19th in assists/game (16.2), 3rd in Field Goal % (.495), and 216th in rebounds/game (34.1).  Some might look at the 216th in rebounds but look at how many they average.  34 boards a game isn’t too bad, it’s actually pretty good.  As of right now I have Ohio State losing to Kansas in the Title Game.