As the 2017-2018 basketball season is upon us, we must be held accountable for our hot takes and opinions. In order for accountability to occur, we must record our “official” predictions for the season (on both Gophers and non-Gopher topics) so that when Ustreet guesses every moment of the season down to the buzzer beater over the Spartans in late February, he can officially usurp the title of “Oracle” from GopherNation. Without further ado, here are some questions and answers from The Daily Gopher staff about the impending college basketball season with a heavy emphasis on our beloved Golden Gophers.
First off, on a scale of 1 - 10, how excited are you for this basketball season?
mowe0018: Due to the rebuilding the football team is currently under-taking, the fact that I love basketball in all forms, and the high quality of the Gopher squad this year, I’m at about a 9. College basketball has always been my favorite sport to consume and this season holds a lot of intrigue, not to mention that the Gophers will very likely be relevant on the national stage more so than in any other season in recent memory.
UStreet: 8. This is the best team on paper in a long time. There are enough question marks that I’m more skeptical than some of the national writers, but Minnesota should be very good and very fun to watch.
GoAUpher: Can I be honest and say the season sort of snuck up on me? I’m still out here holding firm that people need to calm down about football. I’m not ready for the first time a slightly overhyped (by national media types) Minnesota basketball squad loses a close one and the fanbase eats itself with needless frustration.
I’m sorry, that sounded negative. Which I most definitely am not for this season. Call me a 7. I’m super psyched by the potential this team has to be really really good.
Gopherguy05: Its definately the most excited i've been in quite some time. A very solid 8.5.
zipsofakron: I’m nervous and shaky all the time and can’t formulate coherent thoughts when people bring up Gopher basketball. I’m at a 9. A 10 would be coming into the season with Final Four expectations.
GopherNation: Amongst the staff here, I’ve been the most tempered with expectations heading into 2017-18. But as usual, as the season draws near my excitement is through the Barn roof. I think this team is going to be quite good. Not “top 15 good,” but they are going to be very good and will be fun to watch from beginning to end.
What non-Gopher team are you most interesting in watching and following during the 2017-2018 season?
mowe0018: It’s got to be Wichita State. The team returns every important piece from an awesome squad last year and they’re loaded with talent at all the necessary places. The fact that they finished 8th in KenPom and only lost in the second round because of atrocious judgement by the Committee only increases the motivation of Coach Marshall and his squad. The Shockers aren’t some plucky underdog, they’re legitimate nationally relevant basketball program. I can’t wait to see them in the AAC displaying this relevance all season.
UStreet: Louisville because that’s going to be a cluster all season.
GoAUpher: I’m here for UK getting caught up in a tsunami of FBI subpoenas and all the Big Blue fans I know being left with nothing to cheer for in their lives besides Notre Dame football.
Gopherguy05: Probably Michigan State. Can Izzo get his guys to all click at the right time? Can Minnesota beat them?
zipsofakron: I’m really curious to see if St. Mary’s can overtake Gonzaga as the team to beat in the WCC. They’ve got one of the best players in the nation in Jock Landale and, frankly, I’m tired of Gonzaga winning all the time. Time for some new blood out there.
GopherNation: I’m going to agree with Gopherguy here, I love Tom Izzo regardless of the level of talent on his team. So watching a really talented Tom Izzo team is going to be a blast to watch.
Give us your predicted top four teams in the Big Ten.
- Michigan State: Because when Izzo has this much talent, he rarely underachieves.
- Minnesota: Because I’m a homer and they return too much not to succeed.
- Purdue: - A lot of returning minutes and I don’t foresee too far a fall from their 1st place finish last year.
- Wisconsin: Because maybe I can reverse jinx their stupid streak.
- Michigan State
I would like to be wrong because I am too pessimistic about Minnesota and because I am much too optimistic about Wisconsin and Northwestern. I can see a lot of different combinations from a pool of teams 2-4.
- Michigan State
If the Gophers want to make me wrong and be ahead of Wisconsin come March that would be ok too.
Fine...I'll be that guy
- Michigan State
- Michigan State - Because Izzo. And veterans. And on of the best players in the nation.
- Purdue - I’m erring on the side of Matt Painter being able to coach up a team that is losing Caleb Swanigan but returning four starters.
- Minnesota - It’s gonna be a year.
- Maryland - Yes they lose Trimble, but they return a young core that was very, very good last season. Don’t sleep on Anthony Cowan.
- Michigan State - Izzo and super talent, not just all as incoming freshmen.
- Purdue - Defense matters young people.
- Maryland - I like talent here and this team will be good.
- Minnesota - a competitive 4th in the league and that will be OK.
Iowa 5th, Wisconsin 6th and Northwestern 7th.
Of the 14 Big Ten squads, which do you think will vary from their preseason expectations the most, for better or worse?
mowe0018: Ohio State if only because I have no idea what to expect out of them and they have a new coach. I don’t know if it’ll be for better or for worse but I have a hard time pegging what they’ll be like.
UStreet: Purdue, who I think will be much worse than expected.
GoAUpher: Rutgers will be better and yet will still be very bad. I have done no research to form this opinion. I’m literally throwing this dart out blind.
Gopherguy05 Iowa will nearly make a top 4 spot in the conference and will surprise people.
zipsofakron: Iowa is going to be a lot to handle this year. They return four starters.
GopherNation: I think Northwestern drops off from their lofty preseason expectations
Which Gopher player are you most excited to watch this season?
mowe0018: I believe in the sophomore leap. Amir Coffey is going to be a great player for the Golden Gophers and I think this year he truly asserts himself as a high-caliber difference maker against all levels of competition.
UStreet: Amir Coffey. He has NBA potential if he makes the appropriate leap.
GoAUpher: Coffey from the starters. Isiah Washington from the bench.
Gopherguy05 Everyone is going Coffey so I'll say Nate Mason. If a guy that good can be flying under the radar...he is. If he plays up to his potential he could be an All-American.
zipsofakron: This isthe year Jordan Murphy takes the leap to First Team All-Big Ten. If he’s developed his all-around game and has confidence he could end up as the best player in the conference behind Bridges.
GopherNation: Can I say all of them? Cause that is part of what makes this team so fun. We have a bunch of buys who are fun to watch and can lead the team any given night. If I have to pick one, I’ll go with Reggie Lynch. His domination of the paint is so fun to watch. Just stay out of foul trouble..PLEASE???
Which single player’s improvement and/or overall play will be most important to the performance of Minnesota this season?
mowe0018: If Reggie Lynch can stay out of foul trouble and stay on the court for longer than 25 minutes a game, it would propel the MInnesota defense to elite levels and give the squad a chance at a Big Ten title, a Big Ten Tournament title, and a run in the NCAA Tournament come late March.
UStreet: Reggie Lynch in terms of defensive impact, but assuming that the starters hold serve then it’s Davonte Fitzegerald. If he can give Eric Curry or even better, Eric Curry + type performances, I’ll feel a lot more comfortable about the bench.
GoAUpher: Hey Reggie you gonna stay out of foul trouble please?
Gopherguy05: Whomever backs up Lynch. Reggie is gonna foul...sorry guys. With no Eric Curry whomever will play that spot— be it Devonte Fitzgerald, Mike Hurt or Bakary is going to need to be at bare minimum serviceable.
zipsofakron: Lynch is the obvious answer, but I’d love to posit Jamir Harris as an answer. He was one of the best shooters in his class and, if he can be lighting in a bottle off the bench, he brings a tremendous weapon for the team when the second unit comes in. The dude is a sharpshooter and we haven’t had one of those since Hoffarber.
GopherNation: I’ll make it unanimous. The loss of Curry is HUGE and that really puts more pressure on Lynch to stay on the floor. I guess maybe that actually makes Fitzgerald as the most important guy. We are going to need his minutes.
Will Mason or Lynch repeat their respective Big Ten honors from last season?
mowe0018: Depending on how good a player is, repeating as All-Big Ten is usually not that easy of a task, and often far from a given. I think it’s more likely that Lynch repeats than Mason.
UStreet: Lynch will be the best defensive player in the conference, but I don’t think either player repeats their respective honors. Both will receive post-season Big Ten honors.
GoAUpher: Lynch repeats at DPOY because the alternative is clown fraud Ethan Happ getting the award and HELL NOT I’M NOT OK WITH THAT.
Gopherguy05: I think they both do.
zipsofakron: Mason just does what he does now, and I think that because he now has reached a level of acceptance as one of the better players in the conference he’ll repeat unless he under performs. Lynch will too. He’s just so consistently amazing on defense.
Also, Ethan Happ is a fraud.
GopherNation: Yes, I think they do. Mason is the engine of this Gopher train.
How many All-Big Ten players will the Gophers have by the end of the season?
mowe0018: Coffey, Mason, Murphy, and Lynch will find themselves on All-Big Ten of some variety, whether it be first, second, or third-team. Washington will make All-Freshman. Lynch will make the All-Big Ten defensive squad again.
UStreet: What mowe0018 said.
GoAUpher: Seconding mowe and Street.
zipsofakron: Yep. What Mowe said.
GopherNation: who am I to argue against such elite logic?
How many jelly rolls will Isaiah Washington attempt this season?
mowe0018: However many Pitino allows before he benches him for it.
UStreet: One a game.
GoAUpher: I want to see him jelly 17 times successfully against Wisconsin (in each game, both of which would be wins in this scenario). One of them should be done to make what’s his face the latest clean cut UW pretty boy guard who flops look ridiculous.
Gopherguy05 Some...but someone will teach him a lesson about when not to do it early in the Big Ten season too.
zipsofakron: At least one per game.
GopherNation: don’t care, just win.
Will Bakary Konate record a double-double at any point during the season?
mowe0018: Yes! He’s bound to rack up some stats against one of the more awful non-conference opponents early in the season. Teams like Western Carolina, Alabama A&M, Oral Roberts, and Florida Atlantic provide some decent opportunities for the big man to have one spectacular feast.
UStreet: No. He won’t be on the court long enough to secure 10 rebounds.
GoAUpher: No, but maybe he can get 4 dunks in a game again. That’d be cool.
Gopherguy05: I didn’t realize you could get 10 fouls in a game now?
zipsofakron: I’m thinking three double-doubles this year. I’m not bullish on Konate by any means, but I think he has too many detractors.
GopherNation: YES! Bakary is the man.
Predict the stat line of Amir Coffey’s best game.
mowe0018: 20 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks. Win against a lackluster conference opponent.
zipsofakron: 28 points, 9 rebounds, 10 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks.
GopherNation: 32 pts, 8 reb, 6 ast
How many Big Ten games will the Gophers win?
GopherNation: They will win slightly more than the number of questions I’m being required to answer here. But if I have to put down a number, I’ll say 12.
Will the Gophers make the NCAA Tournament? If so, what will their seed be? And how far will they go?
mowe0018: Yes they will. They will garner a #4 seed. And they will make the Elite Eight in a magical run full of fun, intrigue, and suspense.
UStreet: Yes. 6th seed or better. No idea. They should win their first game and after that it’s all about matchups and injury luck.
GoAUpher: Yes, 5 seed but they won’t get the terrible upset matchup this time. They win the first game.
Gopherguy05 Yes, a 3 seed. Sweet 16
zipsofakron: I think we come in as a 5-seed with a Sweet Sixteen appearance.
GopherNation: I’m also on board with a 5-seed, a win and then a loss.
Who are your preseason Final Four picks and your National Champion?
mowe0018: Duke (I hate myself), Wichita State (why not?), Michigan State (Izzo Magic), Arizona (Miller has to get there eventually, right?) National Champion: Wichita State
UStreet: Duke, Michigan State, Kentucky, West Virginia. Duke.
Also lol at mowe0018 for that Wichita State pick.
GoAUpher: What the hell with the WSU pic there mowe?
I have no idea really so Duke, Michigan State, and...idk. Let’s make one of them Cincy because it’d make things fun here in the Queen City (it won’t actually happen). The 4th can be UK as the nice thing they have before FEDERAL COURT Y’ALL.
Duke wins because sure.
Izzo gets it done.
zipsofakron: Michigan State, Arizona, Duke and USC. Sparty takes it all.
GopherNation: Duke wins it all. Michigan State, Kansas and Virginia