Big Ten M5: 10.10.12 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on October 10th, 2012

  1. Do Wisconsin fans even care about preseason rankings? Does it even matter if the Badgers get any hype before tip-off? Bo Ryan’s squads are perennially left out of key lists in the preseason and none of the Badgers are listed in the top 100 players in college hoops per CBSSports.com. A handful of players are on the list from the following Big Ten teams – Indiana, Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan, Illinois, Penn State and Minnesota – but none from Wisconsin. The omission is not necessarily outrageous because there is no particular standout on this year’s squad. Jordan Taylor was an All-American last season but Ryan Evans and Jared Berggren will be the veterans on this team. Evans averaged 11 PPG last season and Berggren scored about 10.5 PPG. Both of their statistics will go up with an increased role in the offense and one of them ought to be a top 15 player in the conference by the end of the season. Freshman phenom Sam Dekker may just steal the whole show by February if he can pick up Bo Ryan’s swing offense quickly.
  2. Michigan State’s Branden Dawson seems to be recovering well ahead of schedule according to the medical staff in East Lansing. Dawson’s knee brace will be coming off soon and should see an increased role during practice. Dawson tore his ACL towards the end of last season and could not help Tom Izzo during the postseason. But his recovery indicates that he should be in fairly good shape by early next year. Izzo doesn’t expect Dawson to contribute heavily on the offensive end but will need his defensive intensity during the conference season. Dawson averaged 8.4 PPG but also pulled down 4.5 RPG and defended the best wing of the opposing teams. Returning junior Keith Appling will be expected to carry the offensive load for the Spartans and his 11.4 PPG from last season should increase with the departure of Draymond Green.
  3. Speaking of defensive stoppers, the Hoosiers will heavily bank on Victor Oladipo to assume that role as they begin the season with high expectations. Alex Bozich breaks down Oladipo’s game on Inside The Hall and stresses his significance on the preseason #1 team.  Oladipo can pick his fair share of points on the offensive end as he averaged 10.3 PPG last season but he possesses the athleticism to guard the best player on the opposing teams. Even though the time at the point guard position will be split by Jordan Hulls and Yogi Ferrell, expect Oladipo to put pressure on other Big Ten guards such as Ohio State’s Aaron Craft or Michigan State’s Keith Appling. Tom Crean’s team is loaded with talent and the secret sauce to winning the championship will be to convince each of the players to assume their specific role and embrace it. If Oladipo can take a step back on the offensive end and channel his energy towards locking down the best guards, the Hoosiers might just finish the season as the top ranked team in the country.
  4. Another key player who needs to understand his role on a preseason top 10 team is Michigan’s Tim Hardaway, Jr. UMHoops asked a group of Michigan writers about what to expect from the junior wing this season. Several writers pointed towards his 28% shooting from beyond the arc has a weakness. Hardaway can’t afford to be in a shooting slump and continue to take shots because there will be other teammates who can pick up the slack on any given night. The addition of freshman Glenn Robinson III will increase the depth of John Beilein’s team, so Hardaway should just let the game come to him rather force bad shots. He also needs to step up on the defensive end because the Big Ten features very good offensive guards such as Keith Appling and Christian Watford. Last season, senior guards Zach Novak and Stu Douglass would pick up the defensive duties but Hardaway will need to fill those shoes if Michigan hopes to make a serious run at the Final Four.
  5. Illinois head coach John Groce will make his debut in the Big Ten in less than a month. IlliniHQ writes that most of the fan base so far has been very impressed with Groce on the recruiting front. Groce has been active on the recruiting trail by receiving commitments from top 60 players such as Kendrick Nunn. He also understands that recruiting in the Chicago Public League will establish relationships and improve the communication about future recruits as he settles down in Champaign. Groce also recruited another guard for the 2013 class from the Simeon academy – Jaylon Tate. He understands the need for a true point guard on next year’s squad because current sophomore Tracy Abrams will need a backup. Even though Abrams only averaged 4.3 PPG last season, he will see an increased role in Groce’s guard oriented offense this year. Illini fans eagerly await to evaluate Groce’s coaching abilities because he has shown them enough about this zeal on the recruiting front. Expect a high tempo, guard oriented offense that will consistently push the ball up the floor.
Deepak Jayanti (247 Posts)


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