Monday, April 2, 2012

The Big 10 - A quick look at next year

Before packing up my Gopher things and moving on the baseball and the Twins I figured it might not hurt to take a look at what each Big 10 team has coming in and going out for next season, just to see where the Gophers may stand at this early point.  I did this last year as well and enjoyed it, although you definitely shouldn't look it up to see what predictions I made and just take my word for it that I was super, super accurate.  Trust me.

Naturally I'm going to have to make a ton of assumptions with who goes/stays, but in most cases I think we can probably make a pretty good guess.  So without further ado, in alphabetical order:  Note, all recruiting rankings are from ESPN instead of Rivals because Rivals' website is being a dick.  And I don't know what ESPN's "score" represents really but the higher number the better.

Illinois Fighting Illini:
Deletes:  PG Sam Maniscalco, SG Crandall Head, Coach Bruce Weber
Adds:  PG Michael Orris (#22 PG, score = 89), Coach John Groce. 

The biggest question for Illinois in terms of talent is if they're going to lose anybody else.  Meyers Leonard could go pro (he's projected as a late lottery pick) and anytime you fire your coach you run the risk of losing players to transfer, although based on the reports towards the end of Weber's time there I get the feeling nobody is too broken up that he's gone.  Still, if they lose someone like Brandon Paul or D.J. Richardson that's a pretty big hit.  Basically if nobody else leaves this will basically be the same team as last year, but with a much better coach is Groce.  Not sure if that's good or bad news, but I have a feeling Groce is the kind of coach who is going to turn this program around in a hurry (NOTE:  I just read that Leonard is indeed going pro, so Illinois is pretty much screwed since they don't have another center).

Indiana Hoosiers:
Deletes:  G Verdell Jones, F Tom Pritchard, G Daniel Moore
Adds:  PG Kevin Ferrell (#3 PG, 96), SF Jeremy Hollowell (#10 SF, 95), PF Hanner Perea (#15 PF, 93), SG Ron Patterson (#25 SG, 91), C Peter Jurkin (#26 C, 89)

Even though Cody Zeller could jump to the NBA and be a lottery pick this year by all accounts thus far he's planning on staying in Bloomington, and that's great news for Indiana because Crean brings in another great class (ranked 9th overall by ESPN and 2nd in the B10) and the players who are leaving aren't going to be missed.  With a lineup next year of Ferrell, Hulls, Oladipo, Watford, and Zeller the Hoosiers may have the best starting five in the conference next season.  Amazing to see a well regarded coach take over a program at one it's lowest points and turn it around so quickly.  I have no idea what that must be like to watch.

Iowa Hawkeyes:
Deletes:  SG Matt Gatens, PG Bryce Cartwright, F Andrew Brommer,
Adds:  C Adam Woodbury (#12 C, 94), PG Mike Gesell (#15 PG, 92), SG Patrick Ingram (#55 SG, 88), C Kyle Meyer (#40 C, 87), PG Anthony Clemmons (#71 PG, 82)

The loss of Gatens certainly hurts seeing as he's been there leading scorer and rock for four years, but Cartwright was erratic at best and Brommer's contributions were minimal last year, so net-for-net Iowa should be better next year.  The emergence of Devyn Marble last year, along with Aaron White, gives them a couple solid scorers to go with a solid front court that should only get better with Woodbury arriving, who should be one of the league's top freshmen next season.  Unless Gesell can come right in and start or Josh Oglesby spends the entire summer dribbling every where with his left-hand, ball-handling is going to be a problem next year.  Just like your mom.

Michigan Wolverines:
Deletes:  G Stu Douglass, G Zack Novak, F Evan Smotrycz,
Adds:  PF Mitch McGary (#5 PF, 96), SF Glenn Robinson (#6 SF, 96), SF Nick Stauskas (#22 SF, 92)

Losing just those three dorks wouldn't be so bad, although Smotrycz hurts just because he is transferring and they were counting on him and he can give them some size they don't necessarily have otherwise, but both starting guards, Tim Hardaway and Trey Burke, are said to be 50/50 to enter the NBA Draft.  Losing one would be rough, losing two (along with Novak and Douglass) would live the back court shredded because Carlton Brundidge, a very well regarded freshman point guard, is also transferring.  And Despite all that it doesn't really matter because they have a ridiculous recruiting class coming in.  McGary had his pick of any school (seriously, he had offers from Duke, UNC, and Kentucky) and is ESPN's #22 recruit in the country (with Robinson right behind him at #27) and he's #3 overall on Rivals Top 150.  I have no idea why this kid is going to Michigan, but I bet it rhymes with Grutty Sloopies. 

Michigan State Spartans:
Deletes:  PF Draymond Green, SG Austin Thornton, SG Brandon Wood
Adds:  SG Gary Harris (#1 SG, 97), PF Kenny Kaminski (#16 PF, 92), Matt Costello (#17 PF, 92), SF Denzel Valentine (#27 SF, 92)

As good as Michigan's (and Indiana's) recruiting classes are for next season, Michigan State's is even better with four players in ESPN's Top 100, highlighted by SG Gary Harris who they rank as #11 (and #1 at his position).  It's going to be hard as hell for these guys to replace Draymond who has basically been a coach on the floor for four years and they don't really have anybody who can easily just jump into that lead dog role.  Well, actually I think Branden Dawson would have been all setup for a monster year if he didn't blow his knee out, so his health is probably the #1 factor in if Michigan State will be a title contender or just a Big 10 title contender.  I really hate these asshole programs who just reload again and again and again.

Minnesota Gophers:
Deletes:  C Ralph Sampson
Adds:  SG Wally Ellenson (#35 SG, 90), PF Charles Buggs (prep school)

Of course, the biggest news and news you could kind of call an addition is Trevor Mbakwe getting clearance for another year of eligibility.  Assuming he takes it the Gophers' fortunes swing dramatically.  Another possibility is the transfer of Trent Lockett.  Both these players also take the Gophers over the scholarship limit, so something's going to have to give.  But they'd best figure out a way to make room for Lockett if he's interested because this is a truly uninspiring recruiting class - although I do think Buggs has serious diamond-in-the-rough potential.

Nebraska Cornhuskers:
Deletes: SG Toney McCray, PG Brandon Richardson, SG Bo Spencer, SG Caleb Walker, Coach Doc Sadler
Adds:  SF Shavon Fields (#116 SF, 82), PG Benny Parker (#142 PG, 74), PF Fahro Alihodzic (juco), Coach Tim Miles

Tim Miles has had success at NDSU and Colorado State and I have no doubt he'll bring Nebraska if not to respectability at least on the way towards it, but it isn't going to happen this year.  The Huskers bring in probably the worst recruiting class in the conference and need to replace four of their top six players, and one of those two top returners missed the entire second half of the season with an injury that he may or may not be able to recover from.  Yeah, it's going to be quite ugly next season for Nebraska.  

Northwestern Wildcats:
Deletes:  PF John Shurna, C Luka Mirkovich, PF Davide Curletti
Adds:  PF Nikola Cerina (transfer from TCU), SF Kale Abrahamson (#46 SF, 89), C Alex Olah (#37 C, 88), SF Sanjay Lumpkin (#116 SF, 82)

Losing Shurna, of course, is a killer and I think the window of opportunity for Northwestern to get their first NCAA bid has now closed.  Actually I guess you can't say that as long as Drew Crawford is around because he's a pretty special player, but they couldn't get it done with a nucleus of 3 (Crawford, Shurna, and Michael Thompson) and they couldn't do it with two, so I really guess I can't see them doing it with just Crawford.  Especially because Luka Mirkovich is now gone and everyone knows he was the heart, soul, and most of the talent on that team.  I do have high hopes for Nikola Cerina and Alex Olah, however, if only because they kind of sound Mirkovich-y.

Ohio State Buckeyes:
Deletes:  SG William Buford, PF Jared Sullinger
Adds:  None

Normally if you saw a team losing two guys of Sullinger and Buford's caliber with nobody on tap to come in you'd be expecting a down year.  We're talking about the machine that Ohio State basketball has become though, and the entire team is basically made out of Top 100 type guys, so even those dudes you've never heard of would probably be starters on teams like the Gophers and they'll be just fine next year.   Not to mention that a nucleus of Aaron Craft, Deshaun Thomas, and Lenzelle Smith is pretty freaking solid.  I'd worry about their size with nobody coming in to replace Sullinger (who killed his draft position by the way and is going to be huge NBA bust), but again, even the guys at the end of the bench would be starters at most schools.  Weep not for the Buckeyes.

Penn State Nittany Lions:
Deletes:  SG Cammeron Woodyard
Adds:  PF Brandon Taylor (#63 PF, 87), SF Akosa Maduegbunam (#116 SF, 82)

I like Tim Frazier a lot.  There's something amazing to me about a guy who can't shoot who still puts up 18+ per game and has no viable teammates but notches over six assists per game.  Frazier is great, but he really needs some help and I don't know where he's going to get it.  The current roster is pretty much a whole bunch of mediocre mediocrity.  Hopefully this Taylor character can be good and give them a second option.  I dunno. 

Purdue Boilermakers:
Deletes:  PF Robbie Hummell, PG Lewis Jackson, SG Ryne Smith, SF Kelsey Barlow
Adds:  C A.J. Hammons (#18 C, 92), PG Ronnie Johnson (#14 PG, 92), SG Raphael Davis (#14 SG, 92), PF Jay Simpson (#33 PF, 89)

For the second straight year the Boilers get smashed by graduation as the entire starting lineup from two years ago is now gone.  The whole LewJack graduation is a soul killer, just because it's really kind of a blast to watch someone who is 5-9 but whose range is about 8 feet, yet is so quick it doesn't matter how much you lay-off or how much space you give him because he's still going to go right by you.  And now that's gone.  So sad.  Plus, with Ronnie Johnson joining Terone and Anthony they now have three guys named Johnson.  That's unnatural.

Wisconsin Badgers:
Deletes:  PG Jordan Taylor, F Rob Wilson
Adds:  SF Sam Dekker (#5 SF, 96), SG Zak Showalter (not ranked)

Leave it to Wisconsin to make things interesting and impossible to figured, like usual.  Normally there's also a clear cut "next up" kind of guy with the Badgers, or there's always a guy who is going to be the guy and everybody knows it.  Not this year, because the returnees are all complimentary type guys.  Then you can go ahead and completely throw out what you know because for one of the few times I can remember, Wisconsin actually has an elite recruit coming in with this Dekker kid, so who knows maybe he becomes "the guy."  I don't know.  I've pretty much given up on trying to figure out Wisconsin.  All I know is they'll be better than I expect and will probably a Sweet 16 team.  God I hate them so much.

So here is your very, very early prediction for next year's Big Ten standings:

1.  Ohio State
2.  Michigan
3.  Indiana
4.  Michigan State
5.  Minnesota
6.  Purdue
7.  Illinois
8.  Wisconsin
9.  Iowa
10.  Penn State
11.  Northwestern
12.  Nebraska

So there you go.  Two things:

1.  It's time for baseball.  I expect I'll have a MLB preview up in the next day or so.  You know you love it.
2.  Fuck Kentucky.

No comments: