Some Way-Too-Early Big Ten Predictions for the 2013-14 SeasonPosted by jnowak on April 15th, 2013
The 2012-13 season has just been put to bed, so what do we do now? Look ahead to next year, of course! It’s never too early to look to the future, so I’ve taken a few stabs at some (semi-outlandish) too-early predictions for the next Big Ten season. Take a look:
- The conference will be deeper, but not as top-heavy — What made the Big Ten so great this year was a combination of the heavyweights at the top — Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State all hovered in or around the Top 10 for much of the season — complemented by some excellent and dangerous middle-of-the-pack teams like Wisconsin, Illinois, and Minnesota. You can expect Michigan State and Ohio State to be in that Top 10 mix again (and perhaps Michigan, depending on who stays and leaves) but it will not be as top-heavy as it was this year. Instead, expect Purdue, Iowa, Northwestern, Nebraska, and Penn State to all be improved. If you thought there was no such thing as a gimme in the conference this year, the top-to-bottom slate next season will be even tougher.
- The Big Ten will not have two Final Four teams — If what was regarded as the best conference in the country this year couldn’t pull it off, I doubt it will be able to send two next year. Michigan State figures to be the best bet with Ohio State trailing close behind. Indiana doesn’t have the pieces and, again, it depends on what Michigan brings back. But given Tom Izzo’s track record (he will need to guide the Spartans to the Final Four to continue his streak of each four-year player at least reaching one Final Four in their careers) and his pieces, the Spartans are the best shot. Again, the conference may be deeper, but without nearly as many national title contenders.
- In the mix for first-team All-Big Ten: Gary Harris, Adreian Payne, Aaron Craft, Mitch McGary, Tim Frazier, and Sam Dekker — That last name may be the most surprising, but Dekker is a breakout star waiting to happen. He was veiled too often by Bo Ryan’s system and depth chart last year, despite usually seeming like the better player than those playing ahead of him. Frazier is a pure scorer poised to return from injury with a much-improved group of players around him. McGary may have been the most improved player in the country over the course of the season, going from an inconsistent and slow-growing bench player to a future lottery pick. Don’t be surprised if he ultimately turns out to be a better talent than Cody Zeller. Payne finally showed the consistency that Spartans fans have been looking for since he flashed his talent on campus, and Harris demonstrated the poise and consistency you rarely see from freshmen. We may not have a National Player of the Year candidate in this group, but we learned this year that guys have a knack for coming out of the woodwork.
- Iowa will be an NCAA Tournament team, and Northwestern will come close — Chris Collins may not be able to get the Wildcats over the Big Dance hump right away, but he will show exactly why he was the best offseason hire. This will not be the most talented Northwestern team in the last handful of years, but they are on the right track. As for Iowa, we saw in the NIT that this is a deep team with some exceptionally talented headliners. They were on the bubble this year, but didn’t really have any top-notch wins to hang their hat on. They’ll make it next year.