Thursday, November 02, 2006

November, the cruelest month

And yet, also the month when America's very best sport, Men's College Basketball, returns. Ah, antinomy!

Had a brief debate with Ryan G. which he cleared up by expounding that it was because the rivalry hoopla surrounding a Hoosier Gordon vs. a Illini Rose would create higher NBA draft positions for the both of them. I'll still argue that Rose should come to IU for the following reasons:

1) Instant PT and exposure. IU's #1 and #2/3 PG graduate this year. Only Armon Bassett returns to play point, and Indiana needs a starter bad. Illinois will have returning starter(s) Chester Frazier and/or Trent Meachem at the positions, and Memphis will have returning senior starter Andre Allen.

2) Nothing feeds a draft position like NCAA tournament success. Sampson, Weber, and Calipari all have exactly one Final Four under their belt, and actually Calipari had his taken away due to cheating at UMass. But coming in next year to IU with perhaps the top recruit in the nation, and possible senior starters Mike White/Lance Stemler, AJ Ratliff, and junior Ben Allen, throw good depth from this and next year's new faces and IU will have a squad capable of making some noise in the tourney. I know recruits would love to be able to be one-and-done, and in today's college game, they'll need to work together.

3) Bargaining position. Sampson needs Rose more than Weber and Calipari right now. Weber and Calipari can recruit whoever they want, and their jobs are safe. Sampson is hogtied for next year's recruits, and is at a new school needing to prove that he can get top recruits. If he gets both local boy Eric Gordon and top PG Derrick Rose, Sampson will have an instant reputation set for him of being able to get the blue-chippers. Rose will be able to get more leeway from Sampson than at the other schools, which if he wants to be in the NBA in the next three years, he'll need.

Other news: the Big Ten Wonk is back and there was much rejoicing! Links to exhibition box scores deserve some perusal, as do Wonk's ever-revealing stats. One thing is for certain, I feel pretty safe about Michigan State sucking this year. No malice intended, but Izzo just doesn't have the horses. Also, Illinois should be fine and return to the NCAA's, but there's a weak perimeter crew that will be punished in Big Ten road games. Weber probably needs Dayton transfer Meachem to be able to play starting minutes.

Also, Wonk gave me some statistical proof to rethink my summer prediction of Penn State making the Big Dance. In conference games, PSU was the worst defensive unit, per possession, of the Power conferences. Ouch. PSU will be improved, but maybe that leap to NCAA Tournament is a bit too much. NIT seems like a better bet.
The question then becomes, who moves up? Does Michigan grab that 5th spot and Dance? Well, yes, and no. Michigan probably moves up a spot, but they were still just awful any time that they played without Horton, and I don't see that changing. Criticize Horton all you want (and it is deserved) but the Wolverines could never approach winning without him. Amaker holds firmly on to the top worst coach award for another year, and while they'll score some points, they just won't win enough games to deserve an at-large bid.

So, I think just four bids for the Big Ten this year, unless Purdue is able to be an entirely different team than the last two seasons. Many are excited about the return of David Teague and Carl Landry, but I saw a Purdue team with both of those players healthy getting skunked (by 20) by a sub-.500 Northwestern squad. They're on the right path, but don't count me as a believer yet.


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