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Iowa Hawkeyes 2011-12 Preview

by - Published November 7, 2011 in Conference Notes

Iowa Hawkeyes (11-20, 4-14)

Fran McCaffery’s (11-20) team could play spoiler to some of the Big Ten’s top teams once again this year.




Projected starting five:

So. F Melsahn Basabe
So. F Zach McCabe
So. G/F Devyn Marble
Sr. G Matt Gatens
Sr. G Bryce Cartwright

Important departures:

Jarryd Cole: 8.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg


Fr. G Josh Oglesby (Rivals.com three-star recruit)
Fr. C Gabe Olaseni (Rivals.com three-star recruit)
Fr. SF Aaron White (Rivals.com three-star recruit)


Fran McCaffery’s second year coaching the Hawkeyes finds Iowa adding a legitimate practice facility for the basketball team this year. Unfortunately, they lose a player; G/F Anthony Hubbard (whom McCaffery and Iowa AD Gary Barta had just vouched for publicly), a convicted felon heavily recruited by McCaffery. Iowa returns a lot of starters, but based on last year results the team has a long way to go.

Schedule highlights:

Iowa has 11 (potentially 12) games scheduled to be televised on ESPN. That’s very high for a team that’s season highlight last year was defeating a Purdue team that was also not living up to expectations. This team will boost other Big Ten teams’ wins column more than their own.

Prediction: 10th

Next: Michigan Wolverines
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Michigan Wolverines 2011-12 Preview

by - Published November 7, 2011 in Conference Notes

Michigan Wolverines (21-14, 9-9)

Lost in second round of the NCAA Tournament (Duke won 73-71).

Going into his fifth season in Ann Arbor, John Beilein looks to improve the Wolverines’ fourth-place finish in the Big Ten.




Projected starting five:

So. G Tim Hardaway Jr. (Scored 10+ points in 25 games in 2010-11)
Sr. G Stu Douglass (Will be the starting point guard in 2011-12 season)
Sr. G Zack Novak
So. F Evan Smotrycz
So. C Jordan Morgan (Finished 2010-11 season with a 62.7 field goal percentage)

Important departures:

Darrius Morris: 15.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 6.7 apg


Fr. PF Max Bielfeldt (Rivals.com three-star player)
Fr. SG Carlton Brundidge (Rivals.com four-star player)
Fr. PG Trey Burke (Rivals.com three-star player)


The loss of Darius Morris will have the biggest impact on Michigan this season. Morris was the pipeline that the Michigan offense’s points flowed through. It will take the full ensemble of starters working together to make up for the lack of offensive presence that Morris brought. Hardaway will take on the role, but it must be a team effort if Michigan wants to get any further in the NCAA Tournament.

Schedule highlights:

A pre-Thanksgiving Day mingling with Memphis should let Michigan fans know whether this is a season to be excited about or a bubble-bound team that is destined to break their hearts.

Prediction: Fifth

Next: Michigan State Spartans
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Michigan State Spartans 2011-12 Preview

by - Published November 7, 2011 in Conference Notes

Michigan State Spartans (19-14, 9-9)

Lost in first round of NCAA tournament (UCLA won 78-76).

Coach Tom Izzo (383-161, 2000 national champion) starts his 16th season as the Spartans’ basketball coach.




Projected starting five:

So. G Keith Appling
Sr. G Austin Thornton
Fr. F/G Branden Dawson
Sr. F Draymond Green
So. C Adreian Payne

Important departures:

Kalin Lucas: 17.0 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 3.4 apg
Korie Lucious: 6.5 ppg, 4.1 apg
Delvon Roe: 6.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg
Durrell Summers: 11.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg


Fr. SG Dwaun Anderson (Rivals.com four-star player)
Fr. G/F Branden Dawson (Rivals.com five-star player)
Fr. SF Brandan Kearney (Rivals.com three-star player)
Fr. PG Travis Rice (Rivals.com three-star player
Brandon Wood (transfer from Valparaiso)


Michigan State lost a plethora of players during and after last season. The loss of Lucious (team-leading 17.2 ppg) and Chris Allen for the 2010 season due to suspensions brought down by the team crippled the Spartans and had a direct affect on the team’s record. A late-season scramble and victory over Purdue squeaked Michigan State into the NCAA Tournament, only for the Spartans to lose in a first-round heart breaker to UCLA. After the season, G Kalin Lucas, lynchpin of the offense and folk hero on campus, and starting forward Allen graduated. Then just before the start of the 2011-12 season, F Delvon Roe retired from the team because of extensive knee pain. Most teams would scrap this season as a rebuilding year, but Coach Tom Izzo will do no such thing. He will build around Appling with impressive freshman who have good size and rely on his veteran guards to get MSU back to the tournament in better position than the No. 10 seed that the team received last year.

Schedule highlights:

Izzo usually builds a challenging early schedule, and this season will be no different. The Spartans start their year off with back-to-back battles against North Carolina and Duke. Michigan State has the potential to skyrocket in the rankings if they can catch either of these teams off guard, though their conference schedule provides little relief, with two matches against Ohio State and Michigan each.

Prediction: Fourth

Next: Minnesota Golden Gophers
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Minnesota Golden Gophers 2011-12 Preview

by - Published November 7, 2011 in Conference Notes

Minnesota Golden Gophers (17-14, 6-12)

Coach Tubby Smith (90-61) enters his fourth season at Minnesota.




Project starting five:

Sr. F Trevor Mbakwe
Fr. F Andre Ingram
Jr. G Julian Welch
So. G Austin Hollins
Sr. F Ralph Sampson III

Important departures:

Blake Hoffarber: 13.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 4.1 apg, 38.9 percent from 3-point range
Al Nolen: 8.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.7 apg
Colton Iverson: 5.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg


Fr. SG Joe Coleman (Rivals.com three-star player)
Fr. SG Andre Hollins (Rivals.com three-star player)


Minnesota looks solid with their two returning starters in Mbakwe and Sampson, both of whom entertained notions of leaving for the NBA. The Gophers surprised people last year with a late run in the Big Ten tournament, but unfortunately that fluke will not play out again. A lot of Minnesota’s players are good, but few are great and teams will exploit their weakened bench.

Schedule highlights:

A very weak nonconference schedule will help inflate the Gophers’ final record, but after being cannibalized in their conference, Minnesota will sink to somewhere at or below .500 overall.

Prediction: 12th

Next: Nebraska Huskers
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Nebraska Huskers 2011-12 Preview

by - Published November 7, 2011 in Conference Notes

Nebraska Huskers (19-12, 7-9 in Big 12)

Coached by Doc Sadler (89-70 at Nebraska)





Project starting five:

Jr. C Jorge Brian Diaz
Sr. G Toney McCray
Sr. G Brandon Richardson
Sr. G Caleb Walker
Jr. F Brandon Ubel

Important departures:

Lance Jeter: 11.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.5 apg, 1.8 blocks per game
Christian Standhardinger: 9.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg


Fr. PG Corey Hilliard (Rivals.com three-star player)
Fr. SF Josiah Moore (Rivals.com three-star player)
Fr. SF David Rivers (Rivals.com three-star player)
Fr. SG Dylan Talley (Rivals.com three-star player)


Nebraska loses a major part of their offense in PG Lance Jeter. Jeter was the points, steals and assists per game leader. Although the Huskers have some talented players – Caleb Walker will impress this season — they just don’t have the raw skill necessary to compete with the likes of Ohio State or Michigan.

Schedule highlights:

November 30th finds Wake Forest and Nebraska meeting in an ACC/Big Ten clash. The difficulty of Nebraska’s conference schedule will be too much for them to take any optimism into the Big Ten tourney.

Prediction: 11th

Next: Northwestern Wildcats
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Northwestern Wildcats 2011-12 Preview

by - Published November 7, 2011 in Conference Notes

Northwestern Wildcats (18-13, 7-11)

Lost in quarterfinals of the NIT (lost to Washington State 69-66 OT).

Bill Carmody (160-177) heads into his 12th season as the Wildcats’ head coach. He is coming off of two consecutive winning seasons, the first time in Northwestern basketball history.




Projected starting five:

Sr. F John Shurna
Jr. G/F Drew Crawford (2009-10 Big Ten Freshman of the Year)
Sr. C Luka Mirkovic
So. G JerShon Cobb
Jr. G Alex Marcotullio

Important departures:

Michael Thompson: 16.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 4.3 apg, 39.3 percent from 3-point range


Assistant coach Fred Hill (former Rutgers head coach)


Northwestern returns four out of five starters, constituting 73.8 percent of last year’s scoring and 84.4 percent of last year’s rebounding. Fred Hill (head coach from Rutgers) also joins Carmody’s staff. Nikola Cerina transferred from TCU where he started 20 games last season. He will have to sit out the 2011-12 year.

Schedule highlights:

The Wildcats fly relatively under the radar this year. A winnable game against LSU could put the team in good position to have momentum heading into their conference match ups. Northwestern takes on Purdue in Evanston for what will be a very important, nationally televised conference game.

Prediction: Seventh

Next: Ohio State Buckeyes
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Ohio State Buckeyes 2011-12 Preview

by - Published November 7, 2011 in Conference Notes

Ohio State Buckeyes (32-3, 16-2)

Big Ten Champion, Sweet 16 appearance (Defeated by Kentucky 62-60).

Coach Thad Matta (190-57 at OSU) returns for his eighth season.




Projected starting five:

So. F Jared Sullinger (Averaged 17.2 ppg, 10.2 rpg)
So. F Deshaun Thomas (High point scorer in four games last season)
Sr. G William Buford (44% 3-point average, only returning senior)
So. G Aaron Craft (Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year award winner)
Fr. C Amir Williams

Important departures:

David Lighty: 12.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.3 apg, 42.9 percent from 3-point range
Jon Diebler: 12.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.4 apg, 50.2 percent from 3-point range
Dallas Lauderdale: 4.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.5 blocks per game


Fr. PF Trey McDonald (Rivals.com three-star player)
Jr. PF Evan Ravenel (transfer from Boston College)
Fr. SF LaQuinton Ross (Rivals.com four-star player)
Fr. PG Shannon Scott (Rivals.com four-star player)
Fr. SF Sam Thompson (Rivals.com four-star player)
Fr. C Amir Williams (Rivals.com four-star player)


Ohio State adds forward Evan Ravenel, a transfer from Boston College, along with guard Shannon Scott and center Amir Williams, both McDonald’s All-American team members, as part of a loaded recruiting class. They should make an immediate impact coming off of the bench. The Buckeyes will need the young players to step up quickly after losing three starting seniors: G David Lighty, G Jon Diebler and F Dallas Lauderdale, who played prominent roles in last year’s campaign. Also, assistant coach Chris Jent returned to his alma mater after a brief stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Kevin Kuwik left Matta’s staff to head to Dayton.

Schedule highlights:

Ohio State has one of the most difficult nonconference schedules in Division 1 basketball. They play Florida early and travel to Kansas right before a late season division stretch. But every Buckeye fan has circled Nov. 29. That is when the Duke Blue Devils come into Columbus in what could be a No. 1 vs. No. 2 midseason match up. Regardless of the outcome, Ohio State will have to either keep or gain momentum heading into the new year as the team faces a brutal stretch between Jan. 29 and Fed 18 that finds it playing Michigan twice, Wisconsin, Purdue and Michigan State. As long as they can keep their loss column miniscule, they should repeat as Big Ten champions.

Prediction: First

Next: Penn State Nittany Lions
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Penn State Nittany Lions 2011-12 Preview

by - Published November 7, 2011 in Conference Notes

Penn State Nittany Lions (19-14, 9-9)

Earned a No. 10 seed and lost in first round (Temple won 66-64).

Coach Patrick Chambers’ first year at Penn State has some expectations to live up to.




Projected starting five:

Sr. G Cammeron Woodyard
Jr. G Tim Frazier
So. G Jermaine Marshall
So. F Billy Oliver
So. F Sasa Borovnjak

Important departures:

Talor Battle: 20.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.9 apg
Jeff Brooks: 13.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.4 blocks per game


Fr. C Pat Ackerman (Rivals.com three-star player)
Fr. C Peter Alexis (Rivals.com three-star player)
Fr. SG Matt Glover (Rivals.com three-star player)
Fr. SF Ross Travis (Rivals.com three-star player)


Penn State hired Patrick Chambers during the offseason, and the coach will have his hands full. The Nittany Lions lost their scoring (G Battle) and rebounding (F Brooks) leaders from last year, and they don’t particularly add any impressive recruits. The seniors that remain will have to step up and carry the underclassmen if they want to get their first-year coach an NCAA Tournament berth.

Schedule highlights:

Penn State has scheduled a match with Kentucky late in November. This could be a trap game for the Wildcats, and if the Nittany Lions can sneak a win, they could end up building massive momentum heading into conference play.

Prediction: Ninth

Next: Purdue Boilermakers
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Purdue Boilermakers 2011-12 Preview

by - Published November 7, 2011 in Conference Notes

Purdue Boilermakers (25-7, 14-4)

Reached Sweet 16 (lost to VCU 94-76).

Coach Matt Painter (112-56)

Projected starting five:

Sr. F Robbie Hummel (Three-time All-Big Ten selection)
Jr. G/F D.J. Byrd
Jr. G Kelsey Barlow
Sr. G Ryne Smith (85.5 percent free throw shooter)
Sr. G Lewis Jackson

Important departures:

JaJuan Johnson: 20.5 ppg, 8.6 rpg
E’Twaun Moore: 18.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 3.2 apg, 40 percent from 3-point range


Fr. PF Donnie Hale (Rivals.com three-star player)
Fr. PF Jacob Lawson (Rivals.com three-star player)


The Boilermakers return only 47 percent and 62 percent of their points scored and rebounding, respectively. This is due to the loss of two starters, JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore, and the early season loss of Hummel. The addition of two physical freshman, 6’ 8” Donnie Hale and Jacob Lawson, and Hummel’s health will make the sky the limit for this team. Assistant coach Mike Jackson joins Painter’s staff this season and should help bring along the freshman talent.

Schedule highlights:

An interesting match up against Miami at the end of November could leave Purdue stunned if they don’t show up ready to play. A brutal stretch of conference play has them facing Wisconsin, Michigan, and Michigan State in a span of twelve days. I see Purdue waiting until they make it to the National Tournament before really unleashing fury on their opponents and erasing a lackluster season from the minds of fans.

Prediction: Third

Next: Wisconsin Badgers
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Wisconsin Badgers 2011-12 Preview

by - Published November 7, 2011 in Conference Notes

Wisconsin Badgers (23-8, 13-5)

Sweet 16 appearance (beaten by Butler 61-54).

Coach Bo Ryan (242-91 while at Wisconsin) celebrated his decennial season with the Badgers last season.

81.5 percent team free throw average led the nation, and the Badgers return 53.6 percent of their scoring and 54.7 percent of their rebounding from last year.



Projected starting five:

So. G Josh Gasser (30 starts last year as freshman)
Sr. G Jordan Taylor (18.1 ppg, 20.1 rpg)
Sr. G/F Rob Wilson
Jr. F Mike Bruesewitz
Jr. F/C Jared Berggren (Shot better than 49 percent from the field)

Important departures:

Jon Leuer: 18.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg
Keaton Nankivil: 9.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg
Tim Jarmusz: 3.9 ppg, 2.2 rpg


Fr. SG Traevon Jackson (Rivals.com three-star player)
Fr. C Frank Kaminsky (Rivals.com three-star player)
Fr. PG George Marshall (Rivals.com three-star player)
Fr. PF Jarrod Uthoff (Rivals.com three-star player)


The Badgers lose three of their five starters from the 2010-11 season: Jon Leuer (taken 40th overall in the NBA Draft), Keaton Nankivil and Tim Jarmusz. Wisconsin would seem poised for a collapse following the third-winningest season in school history if not for the incredible coaching staff. Bo Ryan – he of five Big Ten titles – begins his 11th season coaching for Wisconsin and is the primary reason the school continues to be a preseason favorite to take the Big Ten every year. Despite the loss of both their lead shot blockers and 3-point shooter (Leuer and Nankivil) and a 91 percent free throw shooter (Jarmusz), Ryan will be able to coach this team to success. Ryan will utilize his sixth man G/F Ryan Evans and junior F Zach Bohannon, a redshirt transfer from Air Force, to plug the holes in his lineup. Like the true artist he is, Ryan will utilize Gasser and Taylor as a one-two punch to carefully sculpt another winning season and NCAA Tournament appearance for the Badgers.

Schedule highlights:

A trip to Chapel Hill, N.C., at the end of November for the ACC/Big.Ten Challenge highlights a relatively easy nonconference schedule for the Badgers. As far as normal difficulties to be expected from playing in the Big Ten – Wisconsin plays Michigan State and Ohio State twice — the Badgers should be able to handle this season with relative ease. If it weren’t for Ohio State being stacked, they would be my pick to win the Big Ten. However, Big Ten title or not, the Badgers will be playing in March.

Prediction: Second

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