Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Top 55 for NCAA basketball 2010-2011

Just a quick why-not list of who I think will be the invited teams in the 2011 college basketball NCAA tournament. As you'll note, I gave the Big Ten, Big East, Big 12, and the ACC conferences all 7 bids each. I also expect Michigan State (if healthy, of course) to make their third Final Four appearance the charm. Anything less should really be a disappointment.

1. Michigan State
2. Duke
3. Purdue
4. Kansas State
5. Pittsburgh
6. Brigham Young
7. Kentucky
8. Villanova
9. Gonzaga
10. Florida
11. Baylor
12. Illinois
13. Butler
14. Missouri
15. Temple
16. Ohio State
17. West Virginia
18. Virginia Tech
19. UNLV
20. Kansas
21. UTEP
22. Washington
23. Utah State
24. Tennessee
25. Virginia Commonwealth

26. Syracuse
27. Wichita State
28. Wisconsin
29. San Diego State
30. Richmond
31. Florida State
32. Northwestern
33. Dayton
34. New Mexico State
35. Clemson
36. Memphis
37. St. John's
38. Georgia
39. North Carolina State
40. Wofford
41. Mississippi
42. Arizona
43. Murray State
44. Colorado
45. Missouri State
46. Old Dominion
47. Akron
48. Texas A&M
49. Boston College
50. UCLA

51. Minnesota
52. Marquette
53. Texas
54. Virginia
55. Louisville

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Next season notes

The biggest news for Indiana basketball is that 7-1 Guy-Marc Michel will be on campus this fall. As with most Juco big men, it'd be prudent to suspect his conditioning, and his ability to hold on to the ball, until we see otherwise. However, this pick-up seems to be in a different category than the Tijan Jobe pick-up. Michel was being recruited by other power-conference teams and appears to have some offensive ability inside, and should be even more helpful on defense. I wouldn't expect him to start, but he could be a reliable bench contributor.

Indiana will play at Boston College in the ACC-Big Ten challenge. That's probably a loss on the road. BC was mediocre last year, but was looking to make a quantum jump forward before coach Al Skinner got inexplicably fired. Now, a couple of key players for the season have transferred, no recruits are coming in, and their NCAA hopes are doubtful again. They are probably a NIT team, but they'll be hosting Indiana- who'll be in the NIT at best.

In the good news department, the Indiana Men Basketball team's GPA for last season was 3.16. At least they were succeeding in the classroom, which has not been a place for Hoosier success in a few years.

Brent Yarina of the Big Ten Network put together a power poll that I basically agree with. I might bump Wisconsin up a spot or two, but I don't feel that strongly about it. IU's ranked 8th, by the way.

A decent thinking-through of next year's top 25 can be found here. I think it's fairly justifiable, but I would put money on Duke not repeating. I think Michigan State is the most likely for national champ next season. However, I do think Ohio State is pretty over-rated here. Matta's great, but he lost point guard options 1,2, and 3, and three-point opportunities will have to come off the passes of a freshman post-player. Look for turnovers to uncharacteriscally hurt OSU next year.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Big Ten BB: 5 Questions for the Offseason

So, my time isn't exactly free yet, but I'm starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel, so here's some thought I've been pondering this off-season:

1. Purdue- Is Jajuan Johnson returning? I think we can safely assume E'twuan Moore will be back, and there's a nice recruiting class incoming to soften the loss of Chris Kramer and Keaton Grant and bolster the interior depth. However, without Johnson in the middle, Purdue goes from being a national title contender to an also-ran in the Big Ten pretty fast.

2. Illinois- Is Demetri McCamey returning? I'm on record as not being a fan of McCamey's attitude, but he'll likely play in the NBA someday. I think Mike Davis should be back, but McCamey is the drink-stirring straw for the Illini. They won't be Final Four good, but with everyone back and four-star frosh wing Jeremie Richmond, they should be pretty good next season.

3. Penn State- Does Talor Battle return for his senior season? Battle was asked to way too much last season, and his efficiency predictably declined, but he should have almost everyone back and his younger brother Taran Buie to help out next season. I don't know that the defense will improve significantly for PSU, but the offense should improve to where they notch a couple more upsets- if Battle returns.

4. How good are Ohio State's freshmen? I saw Jared Sullinger play for USA, and that kid's got game. He should step into the starting line-up immediately. However, the question now becomes- who plays point? PJ Hill & Jeremie Simmons didn't do a great job of picking the slack at point when Turner was out, and they're both gone now, too. The only true point guard on the roster for next season appears to be freshmen Aaron Craft, who was ranked at #26 in the nation at the position. I'm not saying that's bad, but Buford, Diebler, Lighty, and the host of frosh wings are probably going to be less effective next season without an experienced point to help set them up. Or not- you never know with Matta's clubs.

5. How many teams go to the NCAA's from the Big Ten? I'm guessing seven at this point, because I don't see any other conference projecting as obviously better than the Big Ten at this point. The Big Ten acquitted itself well last season, despite a host of injuries to key players, and now it should have a lot of those players back at full speed (Kevin Coble, Kalin Lucas, Robbie Hummel, Jon Leuer, and Maurice Creek- arguably an all-Big Ten first team). Purdue and MSU should be national title contenders, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Ohio State should locks for the NCAA tourney, and Minnesota should get another bid as well. Northwestern is the real question- I would guess that they'll be better than Minnesota with Coble, Shurna, and Juice Thompson all on the floor with as much depth as Carmody's ever had. But there's little depth behind them in the conference as Penn State & Indiana will be competing for NIT bids, at best, and Michigan and Iowa will likely just be rebuilding themselves in the cellar. And it always seems that one team from the Big Ten (heck, one from every major conference in every year) falls just short of that NCAA bid? Minnesota and Northwestern both need to notch quality wins in the pre-conference schedule, so watch their performances closely next fall.

Late edit: I had assumed Minnesota was definitely getting Al Nolen, Paul Carter, Royce White, and Trevor Mbakwe all back for next season. At this point, none of these players are a sure thing- or even very likely- to return. They've picked up a couple of big recruits in the late signing period, but the Gophers' 2011 NCAA seem a bit long now. It could change, but I'd pencil Northwestern as in and Minnesota as out for the time being.