Thursday, November 30, 2006

Big Ten Power Poll

The ACC wins another challenge, this one convincingly (8-3), but the Big Ten posted enough late rallies (Iowa, Michigan) and gutty losing efforts (Indiana, Illinois, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan State) that there was only one blowout on each side (Wisconsin over Florida State, Clemson over Minnesota). Bottom line, the Big Ten lost the challenge again as expected, but didn't look at all outclassed. Especially when one considers that Ohio State, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Purdue were all without one of their starters, and Penn State had just gotten their star back and was still without their best-off-the-bench big man. The ACC is a better conference this year, and will deserve more NCAA bids than the Big Ten, but the Big Ten doesn't have to hang its head, just get healthy, smarter, and back to winning.

Stays numero uno for now, but Ohio State, even in losing, is creeping up. But the only loss this Badger team has suffered is a two-pointer to Missouri State, who then lost the next day to 8-0 Oklahoma State. Bottom line, it's a pretty forgivable loss, especially when the Badgers were the only conference team to win in the challenge by more than two.

2.Ohio State (6-1)
Much better than I thought they'd be without Oden, I gotta say. But once again I am reminded to not doubt the expert. (Although the point of my grumpy rant about OSU's #1 ranking is still about whether the Pollsters should be ranking on where they think teams are going to finish the year or where they think they are right now. Should we rank teams based on the anticipation of mid-season transfers that will become eligible? But I digress.) Coach Matta needs Oden and that legit interior presence he's sure to supply. The Buckeyes have loads of perimeter and transition threats, but even just a good rebounder and an average interior presence will make this squad a real Final Four contender.

3.Michigan State (6-2)
Working hard, but I just think that Izzo doesn't have the horses. So far MSU has earned this spot, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them finish 7th in the Big Ten Standings. They're being carried by a 44.6% 3-pt shooting clip, and I just don't see that continuing, especially after last night's 2-13 performance against Boston College.

4.Illinois (7-1)
We've not seen the real Illinois any more than we've seen the real Ohio State. Once Bruce Weber has everyone healthy, especialy Brian Randle--that guy is a game-changer--
they should be a lock for top 3. However, for right now, I'm not sure they are even a NCAA team.

5.Indiana (3-2)
Tough loss at Duke, but there were plenty of things to like in the loss, notably the defense.
Now Sampson has to figure out how to blend the hustle 'n' tough guys (Mike White, Suhr) with the skill guys (Calloway, Stemler). Actually getting Lance Stemler (does anyone else think of Lucas Scott every time he's on the floor?) back from a concussion will help.

6.Purdue (5-1)
They're coming along. Not a NCAA squad, but looking like a team with some postseason life after all. Carl Landry's an amazing player, but he needs help, and unless David Teague is having a good game, there's not a lot of overwhelming talent here. Frosh Chris Kramer's knee healing up would help with depth, tho.

7.Penn State (4-2)
Much better with Claxton playing. With Brandon Hassell supplying something resembling a defensive presence inside, maybe they can take a step forward. Of course, if Hassell keeps fouling out in 20 minutes, maybe not. But if they do take real step up the conference ladder, it'll be due to defense.

8.Michigan (7-1)
I've already written about this, but these guys are ridiculously bad for all of the collected talent. Maybe they'll wake up and turn it around, but the smart money isn't on it. Here's a question:
I wonder what Dan Monson would do with this club?

9.Northwestern (3-2)
Carmody's doing a good job with a bunch of recruits that nobody else wanted. This is not his most talented team, but this may be the deepest NU team I've seen. Tim Doyle's stuffing the stat sheet, but I just can't shake the feeling the guy is not a winner. Good win over Miami, tho.

10.Iowa (2-4)
The return of Mike Henderson may not supply the interior offensive presence they need, but it should help to stop the bleeding on backcourt turnovers. Also, it'll give Alford someone to play when Haluska needs a breather or Freeman is out of control.

11. Minnesota (2-5)
This is looking more and more like Dan Monson's last year, and not that he ever really had a fair chance (this is only his 2nd season without sanctions), but you can't like where this club has gone. He'll be the sacrificial lamb when they bring a bright new name in to revitalize this program.


At 10:50 AM, Blogger mike said...

It appears this is not the last year of Dan Monson, it is the last day. newsconfrence at 3.

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