Feast Week, Big Ten Day 2 Previews: Who’s the best team in the Big Ten?
Non-Purdue edition, of course.
Well...that was certainly a day of basketball.
And now we’re onto another day of hoops’in. But first, a Slack argument from the OTE writers:
Roundtable Recap (or: Is Indiana Good?)
BoilerUp89: So who is good in the B1G this year? MSU, IU, and maybe Iowa?
Buffkomodo: Move Indiana to the maybe category.
Stewmonkey13: Iowa is OK, that’s as far as I’m willing to go. The offense is blazing, and Murray is even better than I thought he’d be. But defense is still an issue, if slightly improved.
BU: IU has at least played a P6 team. Iowa hasn’t yet. I was using good very loosely here.
BK: Fair. It’s just hard seeing how Indiana could win outside of Assembly.
BU: Well do they play games at [/motions towards B1G arenas]
Candystripes: A .500 record in conference play might get a top-six finish or better this year.
BK: Both fair. I just feel like I should be pessimistic. I’ve been hurt before. You know how it goes.
Candystripes: Oh yeah, I’m not even looking at whatever our schedule is. I just don’t think there’s a large number of teams this year that you can point at and say “Everything’s gotta go right for us to even have a chance.” Like, Purdue at Mackey, Wisconsin at the Kohl Center (IU-specific), maybe the two Michigan schools at their respective places, and that’s about it?
BK: Oh no. I firmly believe Indiana has a chance in every game they play. I just have a hard time picking which games are gonna pan out well.
Candystripes: Figure that on top of that, there’s 1 genuine let-down game, 1 “we didn’t get the critical call at the right time” game, and 1 or 2 “who knows, anything could happen” games, and that’s still 10-8.
BK: Oh yeah. It’s completely plausible that Indiana and Purdue can go into that first meeting with one or both undefeated or with one loss too. Indiana’s schedule in the B1G is actually kinda favorable to start out. Gotta get that win at Wiscy though.
That allows you to drop one at Iowa or against OSU and still sets up a great game vs Purdue and probably catapults you to at least a 5 seed in the B1G tourney.
Candystripes: Notable that we also only get Michigan and MSU once each, and the trip to Mackey will hopefully only matter for seeding consideration for the BTT.
BK: 1st 10 games are H/A with Nebby and Penn State. Get OSU, Purdue, and Michigan all at home. Sprinkle in Minny at home, at Iowa and at Wisconsin. You can easily mess around and wind up 7-3 in there.
2nd half sets up nice for an easy 5-5 finish.
I’d never bet on it though.
Brian: I wouldn’t be too worried about Illinois. I think they’ll get it together. But Michigan … it’s just not the team many thought it would be at this point.
I think it’s Purdue’s world this year. With the Illini, Buckeyes and Sparty in the next tier.
Green Akers: Horseshit. Michigan has a first team All American center, two top-30 freshmen, imported the Sun Belt POTY to plug in at PG, and have maybe the best leader in the conference in Brooks. All your expected role players are former blue chips.
If they don’t win the conference or narrowly lose it to Purdue when it’s all said and done, maybe Howard really did just get lucky last year.
Brian: I don’t know, have you seen Michigan play? And not just against Arizona. Seton Hall showed what this team really is. Caleb Houstan may be a five-star, but he’s young and needs seasoning on both ends of the court. And Moussa Diabate is exciting, but he’s also a work in progress. A nice complementary piece, but not someone you build an offense around. At least not yet. The rest of the youngsters are primarily guards that look talented, but don’t look ready to contribute as true freshmen. At least not yet.
I’m not sure if Howard got lucky, or if he had four NBA-level level guys on last year’s team that are no longer there (and a fifth player in Austin Davis that was a legitimate post-presence off the bench). So, did he get lucky that John Beilein left him a pretty talented roster? Yeah. But in fairness to Howard, he did add Hunter Dickinson, Chaundee Brown and Mike Smith.
I haven’t seen State play a lot this year, but from what I’ve seen, what impresses me aren’t guys like Gabe Brown (who you knew had talent) but upperclassmen like Marcus Bingham, Julius Marble and Malik Hall. Big, physical players who appear to have turned the corner. It brings me no joy to admit that I’m bullish on the Spartans this season.
The Wolverines may be loaded with talent and potential, but they just aren’t there yet. Can Juwan get them there? We’ll see.
GA: Was the expectation for Michigan to only lose two games again or something? That’s not realistic, and with Juwan evidently being a student of the Tom Izzo School Of Meatgrinder Noncon Scheduling, there aren’t going to be 15-1 starts very often.
You’re 3 games in,,. what is it with you guys setting your expectations as low as you possibly can at the first sign of trouble? RockyMtnBlue probably still thinks the football team is going to find a way to get to 3-9 this season.
Brian: Well, I wasn’t expecting Michigan to get run out of the gym like it was against Arizona, I can tell you that.
If things come together and the Wolverines find an answer at the three (I expect Devante Jones to improve his game as the season progresses), they could surprise and join Illinois and Sparty in that second tier. But right now, they’re just too young. And more importantly, they just don’t have enough players ready to contribute at this level. If they had (or can develop) any difference-makers to complement Dickinson and Brooks, I’d feel better about their chances. But as it is, they’ve got a long way to go.
BoilerUp: Michigan is playing the role of Purdue last season. Young team with a lot of talent that is going to struggle early. Late in the season, they are going to look very dangerous.
Brian: From your lips to God’s ears.
Wisconsin Badgers vs. #12 Houston Cougars
4pm | ESPN | UH -6.5 | O/U 122.5
Maui Invitational (Semifinal #1)
MNW: Oh helloooooooo.
If you like offensive basketball, maybe find something else to do. The Coogs bring all the length and size that gave the badgers trouble against Providence and a whole lot more—Fabian White Jr. is the real deal (21 and 8 against Butler), and J’Wan Roberts gives a punch off the bench at 6’7” and athletic, too.
Of course, as I say this, the Coogs go 4/23 from deep and wisconsin wins.
Kind of...: Couldn’t have said it better myself. If Johnny Davis plays against Providence, the Badgers may well have won that game. They’re actually better thus far than I was expecting. But Davis was good enough yesterday to get Houston’s attention, which means he may well get locked down today. This will be a learning experience.
4pm | ESPN2 | NU -11 | O/U 139.5
Legends Classic (Third Place Game)
MNW: Athletic, pressing defenses have been a problem for the ‘Cats so far—so can Tom Crean’s collection of probably-good players start gelling at some point? The Bulldogs (2-3, KP 168) have losses to Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, and Virginia, so it’s not like they’re losing to bad teams, but in having to fill in a roster that was basically completely turned over in the off-season, there’s a lot to do in Athens.
I like Northwestern if they can actually get the ball inside to Pete Nance and Ryan Young—the Bulldogs have the length of 6’11” G Braelen Bridges, but after that it’s undersized. What we’ve seen, though, is that Northwestern needs to get into its offensive sets quicker and actually free up its guards on the perimeter to get that ball moving.
I’m not optimistic, and I don’t know I’ve ever seen Northwestern favored by 10+ against a power conference opponent.
6pm | ESPNNews | Illinois -10 | O/U 134.5
Hall of Fame Classic (Third Place Game)
Thumpasaurus: Oh boy. If you hate Illinois, you could be in for a treat. Bruce Weber coaching Mark Smith against us is a recipe to send Illini fans straight to hell should we lose tonight. With this game on the docket and a super-bad Mizzou team lurking, Illini fans could disappear from the Internet before January if the team doesn’t get their shit together immediately.
Indiana Hoosiers vs. Jackson State Tigers
6pm | BTN | IU -22.5 | O/U 128
MNW: The Tigers have an intriguing center in Jayveous McKinnis (6’7”), who’s averaging a double-double across losses to Illinois, LaTech, Cal Baptist, and Marshall. But the rest of the team is error-prone (almost 15 TO/gm), doesn’t distribute the ball well, and will chuck in that fun way where you know they’re not gonna win. Oh well.
Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Tennessee State Tigers
8pm | BTN | UNL -17 | O/U 146.5
MNW: The Tigers play faaaast, so hopefully this one just gets nice and silly. Hope everyone in Nebraska is doing well!
Here’s your open thread for the day’s games. Enjoy!