Big Ten M5: 01.08.14 Edition

Posted by Brendan Brody on January 8th, 2014

morning5_bigten

  1. Bronson Koenig came to Wisconsin despite having offers from Duke, North Carolina and Virginia. Needless to say, he had a decent amount of hype attached to his game, but he hasn’t made a huge impact yet despite some good moments in his 14 games of action. One of the biggest things he’s dealing with in Bo Ryan’s offense is knowing when to score and when to pass. Koenig doesn’t really need to do much more than what he’s doing right now, however, on a team with veterans Ben Brust, Josh Gasser and Traevon Jackson ahead of him in the rotation. He provides the Badgers with a someone to play 10 to 15 minutes per game at either the point or on the wing, and the experience he gains this season will pay off much more next year after Brust graduates.
  2. Purdue is in trouble after an 0-2 start that saw the Boilermakers give up 78 points to an offensively challenged Ohio State team and 82 points to Minnesota on Sunday. One of the major catalysts to their struggles has been the defensive end of the floor. Minnesota hit 11-of-24 shots from behind the arc, and Purdue does not rank higher than eighth in the B1G in scoring defense, three-point defense, field goal defense and defensive rebounding. This goes against the blueprint that Matt Painter laid out in the early part of his tenure in West Lafayette, where his teams were mostly known for their defensive intensity. The Boilermakers almost came back and beat Minnesota largely because of the late success of their defensive pressure, but they need to start performing for 40 minutes to get some wins in this difficult conference.
  3. Northwestern lost a transfer on Tuesday afternoon, as 7’2″ Chier Ajou has decided to pursue other opportunities. To date, Ajou had only played in one game and two minutes this season. This frees up a roster spot for next season when head coach Chris Collins can pick up someone who will make for a better fit in his system. It’s a credit to Collins that the transition over from Bill Carmody has gone relatively smoothly, with only two players (Ajou and Mike Turner) transferring so far.
  4. The play of Derrick Walton Jr. has mostly been up and down, but both Michigan head coach John Beilein and Walton himself seem to think that things will become easier for the freshman point guard. He has already cut down on his turnovers — with only six in the last five games — and it’s taken a while for him to learn the complexities of Beilein’s offense, but he is starting to get more comfortable. If Walton Jr. can at a minimum limit his turnovers and knock down an open jumper here and there, the Wolverines will be in decent shape at the point with he and Spike Albrecht splitting time there.
  5. Ohio State almost pulled off another thrilling comeback on Tuesday night, but instead lost its first game of the season to Michigan State in overtime, 72-68. The game showed much of what is already known about the Buckeyes. They are an elite defensive team, especially at the guard spots, but they are still and probably will continue to be a mediocre offensive team. Just like in the Notre Dame game a few weeks ago, this comeback was essentially fueled with tremendous on-ball pressure that created turnovers. The Buckeyes got almost nothing in their half-court offense last night, and unless LaQuinton Ross and Lenzelle Smith can develop more consistency on this end of the floor (or Marc Loving morphs from potential superstar to superstar), this will be how it is all season for Thad Matta’s team.
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Big Ten Weekend in Review

Posted by Brendan Brody on January 6th, 2014

The opening weekend of B1G conference play consisted of six games that were played to varying degrees of competitiveness. There were no upsets, but there were certainly some fireworks. Iowa’s Fran McCaffery might have drawn a future suspension for his outburst in the second half of his team’s loss at Wisconsin. Penn State’s DJ Newbill also was shown the exit after he got into an altercation with Illinois’ Kendrick Nunn. Here are some of the other happenings from the weekend.

Gary Harris seemed to find his shooting stroke again in Michigan State's victory at Indiana.

Gary Harris seemed to find his shooting stroke again in Michigan State’s victory at Indiana.

Player of the Weekend: Gary Harris: Harris showed signs of shaking off his post-injury rust against Penn State last Tuesday, but he really broke out on Saturday in Bloomington, going for 26 points and five steals in Michigan State’s 73-56 win. Harris went 5-of-10 from deep, scoring eight points in a row during a 10-0 first half stretch that helped bury the Hoosiers early. More than just his scoring output, what showed that Harris is nearing 100 percent was how active he was defensively. Indiana tends to turn the ball over a good deal, but Harris was doing his best by flying around the perimeter to make sure the trend continued. The preseason Big Ten Player of the Year is slowly starting to show why he was picked for that honor, and also why he’s considered to be a potential lottery pick next June.

Super Sub of the Weekend: Matt Costello: Granted Costello only scored two points against Indiana, but the sophomore was another defensive standout for Sparty. He blocked three shots in 15 minutes of action, and forced a couple of other misses simply by staying big in the post. Michigan State blocked nine total shots as a team, and held the Hoosiers to an awful 36.8 percent shooting on two-pointers. Costello was a huge part of why Indiana’s shooting numbers were so poor, despite his limited minutes.

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Big Ten M5: New Year’s Day Edition

Posted by Brendan Brody on January 1st, 2014

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  1. Over the course of 153 non-conference games some things have changed since the preseason, and some have stayed the same. In Gary Parrish’s comprehensive look at how things may or may not have been altered through the course of the season so far, the main point seems to be that the league is just as strong top-to-bottom as it has been in prior years. While there may not be a supposed juggernaut like Indiana last season, the league could get the 7-8 NCAA bids that they have become accustomed to, depending on how conference play shakes out.
  2. Speaking of Indiana, the Hoosiers fell to Illinois in overtime yesterday afternoon 83-80. This loss begins the start of what very well could be a season where Indiana lives on the bubble for the majority of the season. They blew their only chances in the beginning of the season to get a quality resume win, and with the loss to the Illini today, Indiana fans might need to start to worry a little bit about the fate of this extremely young and talented team.
  3. Thad Matta is known for using a smaller bench once conference play rolls around, and this came into play in the Buckeyes’ 78-69 conference-opening victory at Purdue. Matta primarily played seven players, and he really didn’t go with either Amir Williams or Trey McDonald very often. This is despite the fact that Williams has the second best plus/minus per minute of any player on the roster. Matta said that he is comfortable giving nine players quality minutes, but if either the big men, or Amadeo Della Valle are ineffective, he has no problem shrinking his bench and using different lineup combinations.
  4. Purdue was essentially done in by their lack of being able to finish around the basket in their loss on Tuesday to Ohio State. Matt Painter stressed that this Purdue team “is better than it was two weeks ago,” and they really did look like a potential factor in the league during a solid chunk of this contest. They got 18 points and 16 rebounds from A.J. Hammons, but he also turned the ball over 4 times in the second half. For Purdue to really improve, they’re going to need to get more perimeter shooting, as making 21.4% percent of their threes will only draw more attention to Hammons on the inside.
  5. It was a sad day for followers of the Michigan Wolverines, as their former coach, Johnny Orr, passed away at the age of 86. Orr is more known for his exploits as the head coach at Iowa State, but he still leads Michigan in wins at 209. Orr took Michigan to the National Championship game in 1976, and his death brought about many glowing quotes from his contemporaries in the game. The man who brought “Hilton Magic” to Ames obviously made an impact at Michigan as well.
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Re-Ranking the Big Ten Heading into Conference Play

Posted by Jonathan Batuello on December 31st, 2013

With the conference season now upon us, the writers at the microsite decided it would be a good idea to re-rank how we believe the teams will finish in the race to a Big Ten championship. The conference has to this point laid a solid claim as the best league in the nation, so it will be another grueling 18-game process for some lucky team win the crown. We’ve learned a decent amount about every school’ strengths and weaknesses by now — including just how good Ohio State’s defense appears to be, and how Michigan may not be ready to repeat its postseason performance from last year — but teams don’t truly reveal themselves until they start seeing their old familiar foes in conference play. Here are how the microsite writers believe the teams will pan out with a few notes on what has changed since before the season began.

Aaron Craft and the Buckeyes are the pick to win the Big Ten (Jeff Hanisch/US Presswire)

Aaron Craft and the Buckeyes are the pick to win the Big Ten. (Jeff Hanisch/US Presswire)

  1. Ohio State: Everyone knew the Buckeyes’ defense would be good, but it has been much better than expected. Ken Pomeroy ranks them as the most efficient defense in the country, so that keeps Ohio State in every game regardless of how the offense is playing. They’ve also gotten enough scoring from everyone (six players average more than 7.0 PPG), and LaQuinton Ross and Lenzelle Smith are starting to become reliable scorers every night out.
  2. Wisconsin: One of the biggest surprises of this college basketball season, the Badgers have become a force offensively as well as defensively. Bo Ryan’s squad has shown a propensity to win every style of game this season and unearthed a huge bright spot in Frank Kaminsky. Wisconsin ranks in the top 20 in both offensive and defensive efficiency while playing one of the most challenging non-conference slates in the country, so don’t think for a minute that its early success will peter out. Read the rest of this entry »
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Three Keys to Ohio State at Purdue Today

Posted by Jonathan Batuello on December 31st, 2013

Big Ten play is here and it gets started today with No. 3 Ohio State‘s trip to West Lafayette to take on Purdue at 1:00 PM ET. The Buckeyes are still undefeated and Purdue has had its struggles in the non-conference season, but the Boilermakers are coming off their most impressive win at West Virginia nine days ago. The match-up will be Ohio State’s second road game of the season, but the first since its trip to Marquette before Thanksgiving (although it should be noted that Purdue students will still be off campus on break, so the crowd may not be as raucous as normal). The Buckeyes need the win to stay near the top of the national rankings and make an early statement that it is the favorite to win the conference. Purdue needs any and all marquee wins to help boost its NCAA Tournament resume, which boasts an 11-3 record but no truly quality victories yet. Here are three keys to this year’s Big Ten season opener. Happy new year, everyone!

Shannon Scott and Ronnie Johnson open up Big Ten play this year against one another and the guards are both key to their team's success (Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports).

Shannon Scott and Ronnie Johnson open up Big Ten play this year against one another and the guards are both key to their team’s success (Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports).

  1. Can Purdue’s guards penetrate and score on Ohio State’s spectacular defense? The Buckeyes’ defense is one of the very best — if not the best — in the country. It leads the country in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom, and is among the best in scoring defense and opponents’ field goal percentage. With Aaron Craft, Shannon Scott and Lenzelle Smith Jr. leading the charge, Purdue will have to manage to find some offense from its trio of slashing guards. The Johnsons and Bryson Scott need to get to the basket and take smart shots, not just go into the lane with reckless abandon to take a leaning, prayer of a floater that has no chance to drop in the basket. Such drives, if performed successfully, will open up lanes for dropoff passes to AJ Hammons, Jay Simpson and the other players cutting to the basket. Without good penetration opportunities today, Purdue’s offense will go stagnant and the Boilermakers will struggle to reach 50 points in the game (leaving almost no chance to win). Read the rest of this entry »
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Big Ten M5: 12.31.13 Edition

Posted by Alex Moscoso on December 31st, 2013

morning5_bigten

  1. Happy New Year’s Eve! A new year means new beginnings and a chance to possibly start over. So maybe not coincidentally, this is also transfer season in college basketball. A time of year where players all around the country have decided that their current program is no longer the place for them and need a fresh start. It only took one semester at Indiana for Luke Fischer to decide he needed to seek another opportunity and subsequently announced that he was transferring. Unlike his fellow freshmen teammates, Noah Vonleh and Troy Williams, Fischer was not able to contribute significantly mostly due to a shoulder injury. He just started to work his way into the rotation but apparently it was not enough for him to stay. Fischer was a Top 100 recruit and while his departure shouldn’t affect the Hoosiers drastically this year, Tom Crean loses a potentially effective player in the future.
  2. After their impressive win against Missouri, Illinois is in position to challenge, once again, for an NCAA Tournament bid. If they do so, it would be an impressive feat since this was supposed to be a rebuilding year for John Groce after losing his two top scorers from last season. A major reason the Illini have been able to stay competitive is due to the emergence of transfer Rayvonte Rice, who won his second Big Ten Player of the Week honor on Monday. Rice is no Brandon Paul when it comes to upside potential, but his stats certainly look similar after half a season — last season, Paul  averaged 16.6 PPG,4.4 RPG, & 2.7 APG, while Rice has averaged 18.2 PPG, 5.5 RPG, & 1.9 APG thus far this season.
  3. Along with Rice, Michigan State’s Keith Appling also won Big Ten Player of the Week. This is his first such honor of the season and the fourth in his career. Though he won the award for last week’s performance, where he scored 27 points, dished out 8 assists, and grabbed 5 rebounds against New Orleans, his production has been outstanding throughout the entire season. Thus far, Appling is averaging a career high in points and assists. As Michigan State prepares to enter conference play and battle for sole ownership of a league title, they’ll need not only Appling, but Adreian Payne and Gary Harris, to keep performing at their current All American levels.
  4. Wisconsin has been the most impressive Big Ten team in the early part of the season. Not only are four of their five starters effective scorers, but their bench can score as well. We have seen the likes of Duje Dukan and Bronson Koenig already contribute, and you can add freshman Nigel Hayes into the mix as well. The 6’7″ big man from Toledo won Freshman of the Week honors off his 10 points, 4 rebounds, and three blocks performance against Prairie View A&M. Hayes has jumped ahead of Evan Anderson and Zach Bohannon as the first big off the bench when Frank Kaminsky or Sam Dekker need to be spelled. Hayes is an important part of the Badger’s tremendous success early this season and he will continue the winning tradition in Madison for years to come.
  5. Conference play starts today! And it starts early in the day (1 pm ET) when the undefeated Buckeyes come to West Lafayette and face struggling Purdue. While the Boilermakers have had disheartening defeats (and some disheartening wins against inferior teams), they have recently racked up some face-saving wins against Boston College and West Virginia. Both of those teams have had disappointing seasons as well, and they won’t impress anyone come Selection Sunday. But losing to them would have caused the bottom to fall out on Purdue’s season. In the first game of Big Ten play, Purdue needs to show that they can at least put up a fight against the Buckeyes — a team vying for a league title — to show their fans they will be able to compete during all of conference play.
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Examining Big Ten Non-Conference Strength of Schedules

Posted by Jonathan Batuello on December 21st, 2013

With opinions forming on various teams’ chances at winning a Big Ten title and advancing deep into March, it seemed like a good time to take a harder look at the league’s overall non-conference strength of schedule. With just over a week to go until the conference season opens up on New Year’s Eve, and some big games upcoming for B1G teams this weekend on slate (Michigan State at Texas, Notre Dame at Ohio State, Illinois at Missouri, Stanford at Michigan, and Purdue at West Virginia), now is as good a time as any. At this point, non-conference strength of schedule is relatively settled and we can begin to examine if a team’s current record is symptomatic of a particularly weak or strong slate.

Big Ten NCSOS

Above you can see the RPI-based strength of schedule rankings for Big Ten teams from both CBSSports and ESPN. It should be noted almost every site has some differences in RPI rankings right now, but as much as we all might hate that it matters for NCAA Tournament purposes, that’s the reality we have to consider. Here are a few notes from an examination of the rankings.

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Big Ten M5: 12.17.13 Edition

Posted by Alex Moscoso on December 17th, 2013

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Author’s update: In an earlier version of this M5, I stated that Andre and Austin Hollins were brothers. This was incorrect and they are not related. This post has been revised to correct this error.

  1. Ohio State’s senior point guard Aaron Craft has had a heralded career in Columbus. On Saturday, he put his name in the record books by becoming the school’s all-time assist leader with number 581 against North Dakota State. While Craft’s defensive prowess and leadership have been an integral part of the Buckeyes’ success the last four years, his offensive shortcomings have been a consistent knock. And though he is still averaging less than 10.0 PPG, his win-share per 40 minutes is higher this season than it’s ever been (.226). The senior point guard may never be the offensive star some hoped that he’d grow into, but his contribution and place in history regarding the Buckeyes’ program are already cemented.
  2. When we’re talking about a Hollins going off for Minnesota, we’re almost always talking about Andre. But Austin Hollins likes to remind us every now and then that not only is he the second best player for the Gophers, but he can also go off and drop 20 points in a game. Last week, Austin Hollins scored 20 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to record his third double-double and surpass 1,000 career points for his career. To top it off, he was named the Big Ten Player of the Week for the first time, an award that Andre hasn’t yet won this season. While it’s clear Andre is the more talented Hollins, it is nice to see Austin get his due too.
  3. The season has been a disappointing one thus far for Purdue, as the Boilermakers were expecting/hoping that the Johnson brothers and A.J. Hammons would be able to show enough leadership to take them back to the NCAA Tournament. While Hammons has not made the “sophomore leap” coach Matt Painter was hoping for, one bright spot may be the emergence of freshman guard Bryson Scott. The young player is one of only three on the team currently averaging double-figure points per game (Terone and Ronnie Johnson are the other two). On Monday, he was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week for the second time this season, coming off an impressive performance (15 points, 6-of-9 FG) against Butler. While Purdue seems likely to miss the NCAA Tournament this season unless things change in a hurry, there still may be some excitement in West Lafayette as Scott challenges in-state rival Noah Vonleh for Big Ten FrOY.
  4. When the AP poll came out on Monday, Wisconsin found itself again at the #4 spot. It has been a spectacular start for the Badgers as they are 12-0 with signature wins against St. John’s, Florida, Virginia and Marquette. They are already an astonishing 9-0 against the RPI Top 100 and are projected to be a #2 seed according to Lunardi’s most recent bracketology. According to ESPN’s replication RPI index, it is the best start for the Badgers in the modern era. If Bo Ryan can keep it going, and there’s every reason to believe he could, he may have his first 30-win and Big Ten championship team since 2008.
  5. Greg Whittington was dismissed from Georgetown earlier this season while still healing from a knee injury, after the talented sophomore had missed all of last season due to academic issues. On Sunday, he announced that he would be transferring to Rutgers, which will be part of the Big Ten by the time he suits up next season. The 6’8″ forward is described as a “difference-maker” who averaged 12.1 points and 7.0 rebounds per game before he was suspended in 2012-13. Not many people are excited about having Rutgers basketball join the Big Ten fray, but Whittington now gives the Scarlet Knights a talented player who will at least keep them intrigued.
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Indiana and Purdue Both Face Questions Following Crossroads Classic

Posted by Jonathan Batuello on December 16th, 2013

It wasn’t a good day for the Big Ten contingent at the Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis on Saturday. Indiana and Purdue both lost games they really needed to win, and now find themselves still without a marquee win on their NCAA resumes. The losses also gave Indiana (1-2 in Crossroads Classic history) and Purdue (0-3) losing records versus their in-state brethren Notre Dame (2-1) and Butler (3-0) in the event. So maybe the B1G schools don’t actually rule the state after all. Here are three keys from each of Saturday’s games and some questions facing the Hoosiers and Boilermakers following each.

Notre Dame 79, Indiana 72

Indiana's Will Sheehey battles with Notre Dame's Jerian Grant for a ball in the Crossroads Classic. Indiana faces plenty of questions following the loss to the Irish (AP Photo/Michael Conroy).

Indiana’s Will Sheehey battles with Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant for a ball in the Crossroads Classic. Indiana faces plenty of questions following the loss to the Irish (AP Photo/Michael Conroy).

  • Physicality Inside. Everyone thought it would be the Notre Dame guards who could lead the Irish to an upset victory, but everyone was pretty much wrong. Jerian Grant had a very good game (23 points), but it was the Irish’s inside play of Garrick Sherman (16/6) and bench players Tom Knight (yes, he still plays basketball) and Zach Auguste that killed Indiana inside. These players routinely went right at Vonleh and the other Hoosiers and just outmuscled them in the paint. The Hoosier freshman is very athletic and talented but he had no answer when they backed him down. This is an issue that could rear its head often for this team during Big Ten play if Vonleh doesn’t toughen up or the Hoosiers don’t find someone to match up defensively with the strong inside players in the conference.
  • Go-to Scorer. Indiana never took the lead in this game despite coming close over and over again. The Hoosiers would pull within a few points or tie the game and could never quite get over the hump. Each time, Indiana either froze on assessing its options or the leaders who tried to take charge didn’t come through. Examples included Will Sheehey quickly pulling up for a three-pointer and missing, or Yogi Ferrell taking an isolation drive that was rejected. These two or someone else needs to emerge for Indiana to close out games like these in the future. Read the rest of this entry »
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Previewing the Crossroads Classic

Posted by Jonathan Batuello on December 14th, 2013

In a state that considers itself the mecca for hoops, Indiana’s premiere college basketball programs are set to play in the Crossroads Classic’s third edition later today. In the past two years the event has brought buzzer-beaters and an upset over a No. 1 team, but this season, all four teams desperately need a win here to help their future NCAA hopes. It’s a day for state supremacy and bragging rights at Bankers Life Fieldhouse — on a Saturday afternoon of great basketball around the country, the Crossroads Classic is unlikely to disappoint. Below you will find three keys to both games for Indiana and Purdue to notch wins in this afternoon’s event.

The Crossroads Classic

The Crossroads Classic is Becoming a Hoosier State Tradition

Notre Dame vs. Indiana 3:15 PM, ESPN

  • Take care of the ball. The Irish are the more experienced team taking on the relatively young Hoosiers. This becomes especially important in the backcourt where Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell faces Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins. These two take care of and share the ball extremely well (Notre Dame is third in the country in assists per game). Ferrell will need to match their composure and not make mistakes if Indiana hopes to walk away with the victory here.
  • Use its athleticism. Indiana struggled against Syracuse’s zone with all of its tall, athletic and physical players. Notre Dame at least has the tall and physical part going for it. This means that the Hoosiers will need to use their athleticism to get out and run. If Indiana can turn this into a track meet game, it has a better chance of winning the contest where its athleticism can outmatch Notre Dame’s experience. This also helps alleviate the Irish having a strong starting five versus Indiana typically having to rely on a couple players to explode (read: Noah Vonleh, Jeremy Hollowell, Ferrell).

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After a Quiet Week On College Hardwood, Weekend Action Set to Heat Things Up

Posted by Bennet Hayes on December 14th, 2013

The end of the winter exam period could not come soon enough for college basketball fans. Yes, we know that it’s important for the kids to take care of their academics, but even the most fervent of followers would have to admit they could only take so many more nights of Bryant being featured in the headline contest of the evening. Nothing against the Bulldogs and their tidy 6-5 start, but this weekend’s spate of entertaining match-ups should help us all regain a little sanity Last night’s Hawkeye State battle served as a worthy appetizer for Saturday’s feast of action, but before you grab the remote and plop down in the front row seat in your living room, check out these four storylines to monitor on Saturday.

Arizona Takes Its #1 Ranking to Ann Arbor Today

Arizona Takes Its #1 Ranking to Ann Arbor Today

Chances For Validation, Redemption In Ann Arbor

It may be hard to believe now, but public perception of Arizona and Michigan was pretty comparable at the start of the year. Needless to say, that is no longer the case. The Wildcats, now also known as the #1 team in the land, get a shot at validating that ranking when they visit Ann Arbor today (12:00 EST, CBS), while the floundering Wolverines will seek to redirect the trajectory of their season. Wins over the #1 team in the country have a way of curing a lot of ills, but it will take a yet-to-be-seen vigor for Michigan to earn that antidote, even on their home floor. Mitch McGary and Jordan Morgan will clash with Aaron Gordon and the rest of that vaunted Arizona front line down low, but keep an eye on the battle of the Ni(c)ks. We saw against Duke how crippling a subpar night from Nik Stauskas can be for the Wolverines; if Nick Johnson’s rep as one of the best stoppers out West carries weight in Ann Arbor, Michigan may again find themselves searching for other scoring outlets. For Michigan, Saturday is an opportunity to prove that the Wolverines still might be who we thought they were; for the Cats, it’s another chance to show us that they are exactly who we think they are.

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Ranking the Big Ten Coaching Positions

Posted by Jonathan Batuello on December 13th, 2013

In the always debatable world of athletics and rankings, a recent post from Will Leitch at Sports on Earth discussed the top college basketball coaching jobs. The column included quite a few Big Ten programs, with five among the top 25 and two in the “just missing the cut” line. This prompted the obvious follow-up question of how would we rate the 12 coaching positions in the Big Ten. Remember that we aren’t just talking about the history and quality of the programs (measured in national titles and draft picks), but the coaching position itself. There is a difference. For this analysis, we examined each program’s history and recent success, its facilities, commitment to basketball, recruiting ease, coaching salary (where available, as Northwestern and Penn State do not report salaries), the normal pressure of the position, fan support, location, academics and more. All in all, it’s a lot to take in, but if all coaching positions in the conference came open tomorrow, what would be the most appealing spots for prospective coaches to move in and take over? Feel free to tell us how we are wrong.

Tom Crean sits in the top coaching position in the Big Ten (AP).

Tom Crean sits in the top coaching position in the Big Ten (AP).

  1. Indiana. The “blue blood” of Big Ten basketball has quite the history in terms of conference championships, Final Fours and national titles. It has tremendous support within the Hoosier State and sits in arguably the biggest recruiting hotbed of the nation. Assembly Hall is an historic venue and its lack of modern conveniences will recede as a critique as the Hoosiers look to start a renovation campaign soon. Tom Crean also earns plenty in salary, ranking second in the conference only behind Tom Izzo. A small drawback may be the pressure of the position, as some fans are already starting to question Tom Crean’s likelihood of bringing a national title to Bloomington. Still, it’s the top job in the Big Ten.
  2. Michigan State. Izzo gets paid the most of any coach in the Big Ten and his big competitor in the state is a football school at Michigan. He may not face much pressure given all of his success there, but for a new coach the honeymoon period probably wouldn’t last very long. The Breslin Center is a good arena and Sparty’s fan support is near the top of the list for all schools. Include the successes of the past with Magic Johnson’s championship team and Izzo’s Flintstones along with its recruiting location near Detroit and not far from Chicago and Indiana, and Michigan State represents as an attractive national position when the job reopens. Read the rest of this entry »
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