Around the Big Ten ‘09: Recap

Dylan Burkhardt
on

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
Team W L Last Yr. Net
Michigan St. 14 4 15-3 -1
Purdue 14 4 11-7 +3
Ohio State 13 5 10-8 +3
Minnesota 12 6 9-9 +3
Illinois 11 7 11-7 0
Michigan 9-9
Wisconsin 10 8 10-8 0
Northwestern 9 9 8-10 +1
Penn State 7 11 10-8 -3
Indiana 6 12 1-17 +5
Iowa 5 13 5-13 0
101 79 +11

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

manny-harris

Player Votes
Manny Harris 4
Evan Turner 3
Kalin Lucas 2
E’Twaun Moore 1

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.

Mini-Bullets

  • Eddie

    perhaps Manny rose to the top of the most feared player list because he was on the top of the interviewees’ minds (since they were being interviewed by a UM blog)?

  • http://www.umhoops.com Dylan

    It’s definitely possible.

  • big ten

    PREDICTION- Looking at michigans schedule i think the best michigan will go is 11-7 in the big ten (with no injuries to key players for michigan). I think this could happen if they split games with michigan st., ohio state, minnesota, wisconsin, penn state, and lose to illinois at home and purdue away (play both teams only once).. Then Michigan would have to sweep northwestern, indiana, and iowa.. I dont see them winning any more games than this, they could possibly could go 10-8 or even 9-9 with how strong the big ten is this year.. I think michigan will go 20-10 (depending how the do in the early season tourny) and win 2 games in the big ten tourny to go somewhere around 22-11 before the ncaa tourny starts, and have a 5 or 6 seed in the ncaa tourny.. Go Blue

  • Ryan F

    Right off the bat I would knock OSU, Minnesota, Iowa, and Indiana down one win. PSU is WAY too optimistic…I see 4 or 5 wins from them. And I think NW is one or two wins too high.

  • Kenny

    Illinois at home is very much winnable, and we should sweep Penn State, but we might loss a few that we should’ve won, 11-7 seems to be a good bet but 12-6 is very much possible too.

    The progress of Ben and Blake will be critical for the second half the season.

  • http://www.umhoops.com Dylan
  • King PKR

    B10 RECORD- I think UM wins minimum 10 games in the B10 unless something surprising occurs. Because of the our schedule UM gets a one game advantage. We play PSU, IND, NW, IOWA twice. Last year, we went 5-2 against them. So, I expect us to go at minimum 6-2. And, if we are going to be a legitimate NCAA tourney team like I expect, we will win at least 4 games against the rest of the league.

    I think we will know early on whether or not this team can contend for the B10 title. Winning the OLD SPICE CLASSIC will raise my expectations. The teams in the tourny are not elite but if win the tourny it could mean we beat 2-top 50 (Xavier & FSU) teams and a top-100 (Creighton) team on a neutral court.

  • jgunnip

    I think the conference champion will have a 13-5 record with most of the top tier in the 11-7, 10-8 range just like last year

  • http://www.theonlycolors.com KJ@theonlycolors

    Hard to quibble with most of the predictions. I’d say you’ve gotta knock IU and Iowa both down 2-3 wins, though. As tough as the league is going be from 1-9, I think their chances for pulling off upsets will be relatively infrequent.