Big Ten Returning Minutes 2010-11

Dylan Burkhardt

Notes: Top/Bottom 2 teams are highlighted in each category. Recruiting rankings are taken from ESPN.

Last year I posted a similar table alongside rosy predictions about how bright the future was for Michigan basketball. I concluded that because Michigan returned almost their entire team and added a couple highly rated recruits, they were a lock for success. Of course we all know what happened, Michigan went 15-17.

I also focused on how a vast majority of the Big Ten’s talent was returning and how it would be a glorious year for the conference. Again, the Big Ten went from the #2 RPI conference in 2008-09 to the #5 conference in 2009-10.

Despite the fact that these numbers turned out to be misleading last year, I think they are still worth looking at again. Returning production isn’t a be all end all of preseason evaluation but it’s still a useful metric.

As expected, this year’s table won’t leave Michigan fans with warm and fuzzy feelings. Michigan ranks dead last in all but one category (3PFG), often times by a significant margin. The numbers are so grim that they are roughly on par with Iowa’s numbers a year ago. Michigan only returns 3 players that played significant minutes last year and all three of those players used less than 16% of Michigan’s possessions when they were on the floor.

Of Michigan’s remaining players, Matt Vogrich is the only one with experience as he played 166 minutes last year. The final six players on Michigan’s roster have only seen the court on TV or from the end of the bench in dress clothes.

For the second year in a row, the Big Ten returns a majority of its talent. The percentage of returning minutes across the board is actually a touch higher this year than last (72.37% vs 70.41%). Two of the three Big Ten champs return the core of their roster while four members of the all-conference first team return as well. The conference should be very strong.

Using returning metrics or not, it’s tough to project Michigan anywhere but the bottom third of the conference next year. Using returning production as a baseline, here’s how I would breakdown the Big Ten on July 20th:

  • Michigan State: Returning 80% of a Final Four team is enough to make any coach drool or, in Tom Izzo’s case, turn down a 3 million dollar raise. The fact that top 30 incoming freshmen like Keith Appling and Adreian Payne will struggle to get major minutes says everything you need to know about next year’s Spartans.
  • Purdue: First it was Robbie Hummel’s back and then it was his knee. Despite back to back Sweet 16s it feels like Purdue has been a healthy Robbie Hummel away from making the serious NCAA tournament run that they are capable of. Chris Kramer and Keaton Grant are gone but Purdue still returns enough talent in E’Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson, and Hummel to battle for the Big Ten title.
  • Wisconsin: The Badgers lose two of their top three scorers Bo Ryan continues to make prognosticators look foolish. The names on the jerseys change but the Badgers worst Big Ten finish under Ryan is a 4th place tie.
  • Ohio State: Losing the national player of the year speaks for itself but a top 5 recruiting class that includes instant impact players like Jared Sullinger (recently measured at 6-foot-9,  286 pounds) and Deshaun Thomas certainly helps to ease the blow. William Buford should be first team all conference while David Lighty has been through it all. The only question is who plays point guard.
  • Illinois: Illinois had an up and down season that saw them go from the thick of the Big Ten title race to the NIT in just over a month. The good news is that their entire roster, including Big Ten first teamer Demetri McCamey and Co-Freshman of the Year DJ Richardson, returns besides sparsely used substitute Dominique Keller.
  • Northwestern: Last year was supposed to be Northwestern’s chance at their first NCAA berth, then Kevin Coble went down. Even after Kevin Coble’s preseason injury the Wildcats came extremely close. Now they return everyone but defensive stopper Jeremy Nash and big man Kyle Rowley. Kevin Coble, John Shurna, and Drew Crawford have the potential to be the best trio in the Big Ten.
  • Minnesota: Minnesota was a team, like Michigan, that returned almost all of their talent last year. The Gophers had a largely disappointing season that was somewhat rescued by a late Big Ten Tournament run and NCAA berth. This year Minnesota loses most of their production and doesn’t have a notable recruiting class.
  • Indiana: Indiana returns their entire team minus the turnover prone, inefficient, elbow throwing Devan Dumes. Maurice Creek was on pace to win Big Ten Freshman of the Year before tearing his knee on the eve of the Big Ten season. They won’t be contend for the title but significant improvement should be expected from the Hoosiers.
  • Michigan: As I mentioned above, it’s tough to project Michigan anywhere but the bottom of the conference. One interesting side effect of Michigan’s young team is that, barring attrition, their entire roster will be back for the year after next.
  • Penn State: Talor Battle is one of the most electric players in the Big Ten, unfortunately he doesn’t have much help. Penn State lost Chris Babb to transfer but Battle’s brother, incoming freshman Taran Buie, could be the sidekick that Battle has so dearly lacked.
  • Iowa: Iowa’s raw numbers aren’t quite as glum as they were a year ago but beyond the stats there isn’t anything to be excited about in Iowa City. Aaron Fuller was about as close to a potential star as there was in Iowa City before he decided to transfer.

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  • Drew

    Dylan, as much as I’ve tried to forget about what happened last year, I’m pretty sure we didn’t go 10-22. Must be thinking of the 07-08 season

  • Yeah… I’m an idiot. Thanks.

  • Drew

    Aside from that, those numbers… scary

  • MGoTweeter

    Those numbers are startling, but personally I have never bought into returning numbers being a valuable predictor of success. Obviously, I think you would rather have it, than not. But because one new player can change a team so dramatically in basketball, Im not real concerned with this.

    That said, I have no idea if Michigan has the one guy coming in that can change this team. But at least they have a lot of options. Hopefully a couple of these guys are for real. Either way Im still as excited as ever for next year to see what this team will look like.

  • AG2

    I for one would project like this:
    1. MSU – A team with Adriean Payne and Keith Appling coming off the bench? Scary.
    2. Purdue – They had enough to win the Big Ten last year if Hummel stayed healthy.
    3. OSU – Let’s all hope we only have to deal with Jared Sullinger for one season.
    4. Illinois – They should get better and I think Jeremy Richmond could be an instant impact player (although he ended up at Findlay Prep after being kicked off Waukegan’s basketball team.)
    5. Wisconsin – Reputation is all I’m going on. I still think as long as Wisconsin is good the Big Ten will have a reputation for playing slow and ugly.
    6. Northwestern – If we get swept by them again next year, I at least hope they’d make the tournament.
    7. Minnesota – Although this could swap with Indiana.
    8. Indiana – At some point Tom Crean’s job will be in danger, right?
    9. Michigan – some would have us in the basement but I genuinely believe the other two will be worse off than we are.
    10. Penn State – Last year they had their rebounding, now I’m not sure they’ll even have that.
    11. Iowa – Breaking in a new coach with a new style. It’ll be interesting to see if they can actually play fast like their new coach wants.

  • aMaized

    I have no idea how to project wins/losses as I’ve not understood correlations with returning lineups and other statistics. I’m just anxious to see the team chemistry and ball movement. I assume good team chemistry translates to good ball movement. This would be Beilin ball and hopefully translates to more wins. Of course, I love defense and I hope that we keep up the improvement in that area. I’m excited for this year’s season. This site really makes crave for more.

  • aMaized

    Denzel Valentine (posted on the Wolverine Message Board):

  • BlueRev

    I assumee B+ recruiting doesn’t include the redshirts. Add McLimans and Morgan and you can maybe bump up that to an A-… who knows how good we’ll be with so many unknowns with as many as 6 potential new players in the rotation–and having 3 proven guys (tho average) returning at 1-3. I’m still hoping UM sneaks into middle of the pack (NO assumptions)–perfect year for a trip to Europe to get an early start on developing playing rotation and teamwork.

  • Brick

    Two years ago, Northwestern was going to suck and then Coble breaks out and makes them decent. He goes down and everyone says they are going to suck last year. Shurna steps up and makes them decent. I don’t think we can even guess what our squad is going to do until after the Europe trip. We could be pretty good if just one player steps up and surprises (Blake, Metrics?). I don’t see Minnesota or Wisconsin as being much better on paper so I think we could land anywhere from 5-9 in the conference.

  • I’ve been (like most of you) thinking a lot about the possibilities. If you look at the five positions we have a chance to be better at 3 of them. Daruis and Stu at the 1 and 2 should have grown into better and more complete players. We’ll have a true 4 man in the 4 slot instead of someone playing out of position (like Zach a lot but he was out of position. I think he surprises and gives us more than expected from the 3 and backs up the 2). So that leaves only the 3 and 5 where we will likely not be as strong, but both Harris and Sims were inconsistant. I don’t expect to get the high end play from the new 3 and 5 but if they can be consistant they minimize the drop off. It doesn’t seem that much of stretch to think we can be maybe slightly better than last year when we are better at 3 of the 5 positions.

  • Section13Row15

    I still believe Minnesota is absolute garbage and shouldn’t have made the NCAA tournament. I think they’ll end up behind U-M in the standings somehow along with Iowa and PSU. U-M’s young team will struggle at times next year, but I still see us winning a couple that we’re not supposed to win (on paper) just due to the way our offense runs and being able to do a few more things defensively that we got away from last year (i.e., 1-3-1). Shooting for a .500 season and making the NIT is not much of a stretch I hope. Don’t underestimate preparation and chemistry as ways to overacheive.

    I’m just excited to see what we have and who has made the most improvement.

  • Alex

    I want to see defense from the start of the season to the finish. We never recovered from the defensive effort of last year’s first half. If they give it their all and never give up I’ll be happy.

  • Deacon Blues

    @Alex: That’s an excellent point. Part of the reason last season was so bad was that the team didn’t seem ready to play early on (in the Orlando tournament). Then things kinda snowballed. If nothing else, complacency shouldn’t be a problem this time around.

    Dylan’s right, though: bottom third. A team this young is likely to struggle everywhere on the road in league play. And since home games against the upper half are going to be a bear too, there just aren’t many winnable games out there.

  • fresh

    we saw with butler that if you always play defense every possession anything can happen………..defense is something that should never be stagnant or lacking……..hopefully bigger bodies and harder work will enable this team to do fun things this year and not be totally disappointing

  • sven

    @AG2 Richmond led Waukegan to second place in the 4A state tournament this year.

  • time_at_work

    “…but I still see us winning a couple that we’re not supposed to win (on paper)…”

    i agree. but the sad thing is that, on paper, um shouldn’t be winning much of anything. and though i see the europe trip as a potential positive experience with extra practice time, i’m also worried that it’ll be too much of a vacation and leave the team distracted and unprepared. I agree with the prediction that um will land in the bottom third, but disagree with the majority of people that say the lowest they could fall would be 9th. i’m preparing for an 11th place finish and an invitation to the NCHBC… Maybe they’ll have a chance….


    AG2 – Jereme Richmond did not go to Findley (DJ Richardson did to get his grades up). Richmond got kicked off / quit his sophomore year – led his team to the state finals as a junior and senior.

  • UncleLar

    You are way way off on Penn State’s numbers. Here’s the correct ones

  • You are right. The PSU numbers are messed up. I’ll fix them now.

  • Posted an updated chart. Do those look more similar to your numbers?

    I had forgotten to update the PSU column, only updated totals minus last year’s numbers. Whoops.

  • Craftsy21

    Looks like you might be on the high side of things now for PSU Dylan. Minutes should be around 72-73%.

    We lost four guys: Highberger, Ott, Edwards, and Babb.

  • Missed Ott. The minutes are probably all on the high side because I just used KenPom numbers for them, the other numbers should be more precise. Although I forgot Ott in those as well.

  • Craftsy21

    No worries, was glad to see somebody took the time to compile these. Nice work.

    Want to go ahead and do this for the rest of division-1 now while you’re at it? ;) j/k

  • Joe Blow

    Just making sure you are aware that Kevin Coble has given up on basketball? He will not be playing this year.

  • Well aware… But this was written before then.