I have come across a few sights who have already made their way too early Big Ten predictions for basketball. I realize this is WAY too early but the early returns are pretty positive for the Golden Gophers.
- Bleeding Green - predicts the Gophers finish 3rd behind Michigan State and Purdue.
- The appropriately named blog, Basketball Predictions believes the Gophers will finish 2nd! (note to self: Basketball Predictions is a much better blog than Bleeding Green).
- Last be clearly not least is Lunardi's first draft of Bracketology 2010 (selection Sunday is March 14, 2010 if you want to mark your calendars). He has the Gophers as a 9 seed, facing Kentucky. That would put the Gopher's 4th or 5th in the conference standings.
Since others are doing it and I love to copy great ideas here is my WAY too early look at the 2009-2010 Big Ten Standings...
1. Purdue - Mich St may be the best "team" in the conference but Purdue will be the most talented next year. Once this team got some things figured out in 2009 they were very good down the stretch. They were the near consensus top pick to start the year but this team had let down written all over themselves. The problem for the rest of the conference is that i bet they learn from their mistakes.
2. Michigan State - It is really hard to not pick MSU to start the year. Losing Suton will hurt more than people realize and they are not the slam dunk best team in the conference, but they play great together and they'll have a great backcourt.
3. Minnesota - I'm being a homer here but this team could be really good. What they lose they are replacing with more talented and athletic players. Trevor Mbwake is going to add some toughness to our frontcourt, I have a strong feeling that Paul Carter will emerge as a much better player and our backcourt will be bolstered by an improved Joseph along with Rodney Williams. Notice I didn't even mention the incoming Royce White (possible B10 freshman of the year) and what I feel is the heart and soul the team in Johnson and Nolen. There are some very nice piecs, they just have to figure out how to make it work on both ends of the floor.
4. Ohio State - Lot's of talent and athleticism. Evan Turner may really, really good and you can't count out the Buckeyes.
5. Michigan - I like the duo of Harris and Sims and Michigan will be tough to beat regardless of their opponent. Plus give this young group another year of playing together under Beilin's system and they'll be tough to defend.
6. Illinois - I'm tempted to put them a notch higher but losing Frazier hurts. Illinois is bringing in a very good class so they are a bit of an unknown to me.
7. Northwestern - this may be the best NU team I've ever seen. The problem for them is that the rest of the Big Ten brings back the bulk of their roster. NU will be better but so will everyone else. I like some of their pieces but I think I'm being generous with a #7 ranking here.
8. Penn State - Taylor Battle is a lot of fun to watch and the Nittany Lions would have made the Big Ten look good had they made the NCAA tournament, but their resume was weak. They'll be good but this i where they'll end up.
9. Wisconsin - yes, I did just put Wisconsin this low. What has been their M.O. in recent years was not as strong this past year and I'm not sold their roster has what it takes to improve, especially rebounding. I like Hughes and Bohannon a lot but scoring will win games for them next year, not their defense.
10. Indiana - They'll be MUCH better but they'll also all be freshmen. This won't be a gimme next year but they'll still struggle a year before taking a big step forward the following season.
11. Iowa - there just isn't much talent there and next year will be worse for the Hawkeye's.
There you have it, bookmark it and 11 months from now you can rip me after Iowa wins the conference and Tubby Smith is getting run out of town as we desire the great Monson teams to return to the Barn.