Thanks to all the writers who participated in the preview series (teams are linked to their previews below). Now here are the Big Ten standings as they have predicted:
|Blogger Predicted Big Ten Standings|
Judging by the records that various bloggers predicted for their teams, Michigan is looking at an 0-22 conference season. This obviously isn’t possible but it speaks for the widespread optimism across the conference.
Looking at the returning minutes numbers across the Big Ten, there is reason for optimism almost across the board. Last year’s entire All-Conference team is back and three teams who didn’t have a player on the All-Conference team bring in top 25 recruiting classes. The talent in the league appears to be at it’s highest level in years.
The problem with all of these predictions is that conference wins are a zero sum game. In a vacuum several teams look poised to make a big jump up the standings, but universal improvement doesn’t help the situation. If everyone gets better, the conference will win some out of conference games but essentially be running in place when it comes to the standings.
The only bloggers who predicted fewer wins than last year’s tally are Michigan State (-1) and Penn State (-2). On the other hand, writers from Purdue (+3), Ohio State (+3), Minnesota (+3), Northwestern (+1) and Indiana (+5) all predicted improvement in the win column.
As someone that expects Michigan to post a winning conference record for the first time since 2003, this puts an even bigger crunch on the win totals.
This leaves the question, where will the wins come from? Looking down the list, I think that most of the projections are closer to ceilings than likely outcomes. I have a hard time seeing these teams winning more games than predicted.
I also think we will have a much clearer basement in the standings. Iowa is not going to be a good team, they are far more likely to win one or two games than five. Indiana will be improved but six wins might be a stretch.
At the end of the day there are around seven teams who are legit candidates to finish in the top 3. The problem is that one of them is going to finish seventh as well.
Most Feared Player
I asked every interviewee who was the “most feared player” in the conference. This question was pretty open ended and people tackled the question in different ways. Some chose a player that always kills them (E’Twaun Moore and Northwestern) while others just looked at the most talented.
Manny Harris won the poll with four votes which was surprising to me. I fully expected Evan Turner to take this one down but I guess there is a similar level of respect for Manny Harris. I thought it was interesting that Manny hasn’t fared particularly well against schools like Illinois and Wisconsin but they chose to go with him anyways.
If I was voting in this one I would go with Kalin Lucas. As KJ has well documented, Lucas can play fast or slow and play to score or setup his teammates. He might not be known as a shooter but he can hit the big shots. Lucas also knows how to step up on the big stage as we learned during last year’s NCAA tournament.
- Per Jeff Goodman, Michigan’s “secret scrimmage” will be November 1st at Eastern Michigan. Eastern likely won’t provide quite the same level of competition as Kent State over the last two years but it’ll still be Michigan’s first chance to play against a division 1 team.
- Mike Rothstein profiles Ben Cronin with quotes from his high school and AAU coaches.
- Dana O’Neil looks at potential NCAA basketball recruiting reform.
- An updated Crisler Arena seating chart including the expanded student section.
- John Gasaway spoke with the guys over at Inside the Hall about the Big Ten.