Tag Archive: Wisconsin Badgers



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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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!

 


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


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!

 


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.


In this post I’m going to talk about some of the reasons why I like Butler to advance not only to the Elite 8 but to the Final Four.

I’m not sure if a team can be considered the Cinderella team two years in a row but I like Butler this year as the “Underdog” once again.  This season (including the NCAA tournament games) Butler is only 3-3 against teams that made it into the tournament.  Their losses were against Louisville (Nov. 16th 2010), Duke (Dec. 4th 2010), and Xavier (Dec. 9th 2010) and their wins against Florida State (Dec. 23rd 2010), Old Dominion (March 17th 2011), and Pittsburgh (March 19th 2011).  Some would say this is a weak resume against teams in the tournament, only two of those teams are left in the tournament not including Butler.  I would have to agree with this claim, that’s not very impressive.  However, the Bulldogs are tough and know how to win tough close games.

“This team is tough because Matt Howard is tough” -Butler Guard Ronald Nored (article from espn.com, Matt Howard leads Butler to Sweet 16) link to article:  http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/tournament/2011/columns/story?columnist=oneil_dana&id=6246779

Howard's workhorse mentality and leadership gives Butler the boost they need to win games

I like Butler making its second trip to the Final Four in two years because of the fact they have Matt Howard.  Howard isn’t the most versatile or flashy player in the game but he gets it done with hard work and hustle.  His energy and work ethic motivates his teammates to work hard and to get better.  They respond to his on and off court leadership. He also leads the team in points per game (16.7) and rebounds per game (7.8).  Howard’s hustle is also second to none.  He has one speed, GO (To quote the great Charlie Sheen) and he doesn’t stop til the game is over. You have to admire that from an athlete that is so gifted.  His hustle and toughness though have gotten him to trouble at times.  Last season he was known to get into foul trouble, this year he’s done better and seems to be playing under more control, which is good news for Bulldogs fans.

I also like Butler’s coach Brad Stevens.  Even though he’s a young coach he knows the game exceptionally well and relates to his players on a very personal level.  You can tell his players respect him and want to play for him.  He brings a sense of family to the program which has not only brought him closer to his players but the whole team and faculty closer together.  Another good thing about Stevens’ youth is that he brings a certain energy to the game that most coaches can only attempt to bring.  I also like his composure. His calm and collected attitude mixed with his passion and energy vibes perfectly with his team.

Shelvin Mack needs to continue his hot shooting to help Butler reach the Elite 8

Shelvin Mack, absolutely lit up the the first round.  In order for Butler to be successful the Bulldogs need more big games out of Mack.  Which I think he’ll have.  He was a part of the amazing run Butler had last year and knows what is needed of him to make the same type of run.  I’m not saying he needs to put up another 30 points but he needs to hit big 3’s with the shot clock winding down or hit open looks (I guess you could say that about any shooter).

I like this team a lot. I think their unselfishness on the offensive end will help them get good looks against the Badgers defense.  The Badgers will put up a great fight but Butler wins in a close game.  I also like Butler in the Elite 8, whether they play BYU or Florida. I like the way they match up against both teams and believe they’ll be successful and will see themselves in Houston!


If you ask me this tournament blows.  Honestly I want to watch the best teams from the entire year not just who got hot for a week or maybe even two! However, I’m here to give my thoughts on the upcoming Sweet 16 match-ups. Hope you enjoy!

East Region:

  • Ohio State vs. Kentucky: Ohio State has been the most consistent and dominating team this season.  Winning the regular season Big Ten title and the Big Ten Conference championship.  Although Kentucky has shown some toughness and good play I don’t see much hope for the Wildcats.  As much as I hate to say it, Ohio State will most like dominate the Wildcats and move on to the Elite 8 with another very impressive victory.
  • Marquette vs. North Carolina:  Marquette has been a surprise this tournament (just as every other team left besides a few).  I had Marquette losing 1st round but they’ve proven me wrong not just once but by also beating Syracuse.  Everybody wants to talk about playing close to home…I don’t think that means anything come tournament time. Marquette took down Syracuse in Newark, New Jersey and Purdue got pounded by VCU in Chicago.  And UCN barely escaped Washington in their own back yard, Washington had traveled somewhere close to 2,000 miles compared to UNC only going about 140 miles.  If you watched the UNC/Washington game you’ll agree that UNC didn’t win that game but Washington lost that game.  I’m still not impressed with the TarHeels but think they have just as good of a shot as anybody but, I think Marquette will prevail in this one by playing tough defense and breaking down UNC’s almost non-existent defense at the other end of the floor.  Marquette > UNC in a close game.

West Region:

  • Duke vs. Arizona: Duke escaped Michigan by a two point margin, which nobody expected to happen. Arizona took down Texas on a 3 point play by Derrick Williams in the closing seconds of the game.  Two close games that two good teams won.  But, Duke has been here before in more recent history.  I think Nolan Smith and Kyrie Irving will be able to lock down Arizona’s guard but the opposite will not happen.  Duke needs a hot shooting night from Seth Curry if they don’t want to make it interesting.  I think Derrick Williams will have a big game but Duke wins.  I think Coach K’s squad wants to be the team that ties Bob Knight’s all time wins record for Coach K, just a little extra motivation.
  • Uconn vs San Diego State: I feel bad for anybody who has SDSU going any further than this game.  One of my friends has BYU and SDSU in the final game with SDSU winning it all.  He knows nothing about college basketball but might be on to something.  I don’t usually like to be proven wrong but hey it happens.  However, I think Uconn is just too tough and has better big game experience.  Plus, Uconn has Kemba Walker, whose in the running for Player of the Year (POY).  I don’t see SDSU’s luck making it past the Sweet 16.  Uconn wins by 9.

Southwest Region:

  • Kansas vs. Richmond: I think it’s fair to say that this region is a mess.  I hate it.  I’m not looking forward to watching these games.  I think this game in particular is going to be a blow out.  Kansas wins big, that’s all I have to say.  Actually, the Morris Twins are going to win this game with a bit of help from the guards (getting them the ball that is). Sorry Richmond, your Cinderella story is over.
  • VCU vs. FSU: I don’t want to watch this game. Maybe VCU will prove me wrong but I see them cooling off this round after 4 days off.  I strong feel that out of the 16 teams left that only 6 or 7 belong, and these two teams are not in that category.  Regardless FSU wins with good defensive and and rebounding.

Southeast Region:

  • Butler vs. Wisconsin: For once I’m actually looking forward to watching this game.  I think it’s going to be interesting watching the two different styles play.  I think Bo Ryan and his defense will be able to hold Butler in Check.  But, if Shelvin Mack stays hot he’s going to be hard to stop which could frustrate the Badgers.  But, I think Butler is at it again and pulls off another so called upset and advances to the Sweet 16 for the second straight year in a row on a buzzer beater by Howard!
  • BYU vs. Florida: I think Jimmer stays hot and frustrates Florida’s defense.  I like Florida’s team play and their ability to get open looks.  However, this is the one year where mid-majors have whooped big conferences butts so I’m going BYU in this game.

I’ve basically been wrong with every prediction.  But like I said before they’re only predictions.  So if you want your team to win that I have winning don’t hate me when they get beat.  And if I have your team losing and they win I don’t want to hear any smack talk about how wrong I was.  Like I said I’m not looking forward to watching too many of these games. I think once it’s down to the Final Four, when the best teams left weed out the undeserving competition, it’ll be much more interesting. Until then sit back and have a nice cold one to help you get through this weekends games.  I’ll be posting some more in depth reports later tonight and tomorrow before games resume on Thursday. Keep your eyes open for new posts!

Thanks for reading everyone!

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)