Posted by Deepak Jayanti on October 19th, 2012
- Conference realignment doesn’t always guarantee that traditional rivalries will continue in the future. But some schools have made a diligent effort to continue the rivalry games. Illinois and Missouri in particular have renewed their “Braggin’ Rights” game through 2017. Illinois has won 20 of the last 31 games in this series but has been dominated lately by the up-tempo Missouri teams. The rivalry game might not be at the same level of Duke – UNC but it certainly has a great history and matters to both the programs as the annual game is held in St. Louis. Missouri will be the favorite to win this season as the Tigers have been ranked in several Top 25s, while Illinois is just trying to recover from a disastrous season that ended up with a 17-15 record.
- Minnesota coach Tubby Smith may lose one of his star players again for an extended period during the season. Forward Trevor Mbakwe is scheduled for a probation hearing on Friday and may potentially face additional jail time. Mbakwe is on probation in Florida for an assault charge from 2009. The redshirt senior was arrested earlier this summer for a DUI which forced Smith to question his status on the team for the upcoming season. Mbakwe was awarded a medical redshirt after missing most of last season with an injury but may not be allowed to play a full season (if any) if sentenced for jail time on Friday. Smith has not had a full season where one of his star players stayed out of trouble off the court or stayed healthy in a couple of seasons.
- Ohio State’s Aaron Craft understands that you don’t always need to put up 15-20 points per game to have an impact on the game. Craft is considered to be one of the best defenders in the game and approaches basketball from a different angle than most other players. He talked to Sporting News about why basketball is a thinking man’s game. The junior guard only averaged 8.8 PPG last season but his value to Ohio State may not be measured using any statistics. He can dictate the tempo of the game and control the direction of the game by forcing key turnovers throughout. Craft has been working on his offensive game during the offseason and will be expected to look for his shot a little bit more than the past with the departures of Jared Sullinger and William Buford.
- Last weekend, top 30 recruit Xavier Rathan-Mayes passed over Illinois to play for Leonard Hamilton at Florida State. A few days later, another top 50 recruit passed over another Big Ten school, this time Michigan State, to play at Missouri in 2013. Jonathan Williams III, a 6’8″ forward, will play at Missouri rather than for Tom Izzo. Williams’ commitment could have helped Izzo in convincing the top high school recruit, Jabari Parker, to come to East Lansing next season. Parker is scheduled to visit Michigan State this weekend, his first visit out of the five schools over the next month. He is supposed to announce his decision in mid-December.
- Speaking of recruiting, Tom Crean continues to be active on the recruiting trail despite having the best team in America per the preseason rankings. Five-star recruit Noah Vonleh has trimmed his final list of potential schools to six and Indiana is one of those institutions. Vonleh is a top 20 recruit in the Class of 2013 and will visit Bloomington in November. His other schools are Connecticut, Ohio State, Georgetown, North Carolina and Syracuse. All-American Cody Zeller will probably leave for the NBA after this season and a top recruit like Vonleh should keep Tom Crean’s foundation strong in Bloomington as he marches towards reviving Indiana as a perennial powerhouse program again in college hoops.