Monday, November 5, 2007

2007 College Basketball Conference Previews: Big Ten

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By Stefan Ming

Predicted Order of Finish

D.J. White pumped up1. Indiana
Indiana returns some key players to a team that lost in the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament to UCLA. D.J. White, one of the best posts in the nation is back along with PG Armon Bassett, SF Lance Stemler, G A.J. Ratliff, and F Mike White; not to mention the new addition of freshman Eric Gordon, who is already looking to be one of the best guards in the country. Gordon will provide the Hoosiers with even more stellar guard play and depth.

2. Michigan St.
Last year was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Spartans, but they surprised many of us losing in the 2nd round to UNC and finished with a 23-12 record. The top 6 scorers are back, plus they added a stellar recruiting class with a top recruit in Chris Allen. Drew Neitzel is back for one last time and is looking to lead this team deep into the NCAA Tournament...

3. Ohio St.
OSU lost big time players in Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr., and Daequan Cook, but returns some key impact players in Jamar Butler, David Lighty, Othello Hunter, and Mark Terwilliger. The new addition of 7-0 Kosta Koufos will provide immediate help in the post.

4. Wisconsin
The Badgers disappointed towards the end of the season last year and played pretty poorily in the tournament. Gone is one of the best players in the nation in Alando Tucker, along with PG Kammron Taylor. C Brian Butch and forwards Michael Flowers and Marcus Landry are back to help anchor the team. Also, F Joe Krabbenhoft will be another go to player. Wisconsin needs to find some depth as their bench looks awfully thin.

5. Purdue
The Boilermakers return 3 experienced guards in Chris Kramer, Keaton Grant, and Tarrance Crump, who helped them to a 22-12 record and an NCAA Tournament berth last season. It will hurt a lot to lose leading scorer Carl Landry, who averaged 18.9 PPG 7.3 RPG., also David Teague is another player who will be missed dearly.Shaun Pruitt dunking

6. Illinois
Illinois should have one of the best frontcourts in the Big Ten with Brian Randle and Shaun Pruitt leading the way. Chester Frazier is also a very capable guard and Jamar Smith returns after pleading guilty to a DUI in May. They don't have much for depth which will hurt them once conference play begins.

7. Iowa
Iowa stuggled to put up points last season and never really found any rhythm on offense. They don't have many options on offense outside of Tony Freeman.

8. Minnesota
5 starters are back for a promising team that is now under former Kentucky coach Tubby Smith. We should see some surprises this season in the Big Ten with Tubby now at hand. G/F Lawrence McKenzie should be one of the top players in the conference.

9. Michigan
Jerret Smith
will be looked upon to lead an inexperienced Wolverines team. He is the lone starter returning, with not much after that, but they do indeed have plenty of size with three players listed at 6'10 and two listed at 6'8. Look for freshman Manny Harris to provide some spark on offense.

10. Penn St.
The one positive thing about this Nittany Lions team is that they have plenty of experience. Surprisingly, they have one of the better one-two punches in the conference in Geary Claxton and Jamelle Cornley, but they don't have much after that.

11. Northwestern
In order for the Wildcats to compete they need to play defense, which is something they didn't do much of last season. They lack the talent of most other Big Ten teams. The lone bright spot for this team is F Kevin Coble.

Player of the Year: Drew Neitzel, G- Michigan St.

Freshman of the Year: Eric Gordon, G- Indiana

Three Big Games: Indiana at Illinois- Feb. 7, Michigan St. at Wisconsin- Feb. 28, Indiana at Michigan St.- Mar. 2

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