Well Buckeye fans it’s that time of year that starts to separate the men from the children that’s right it’s the Big Ten season. Now I’m not going to go through and analyze every Big Ten team, just who I feel has a strong case at being the top seed come Big Ten Tournament time.
The season starts on December 31st with the Michigan State Spartans vs. the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Both teams are ranked in the top 20 in the Nation. Tom Izzo is a great head coach, but he has a young squad this year so I see them making some waves this year. The Spartans are lead by Junior Guard Keith Appling, and Senior big man Derrick Nix. The Gophers however look to be a solid squad with only one loss on the season so far to Duke. Although I haven’t seen them play that much this season, they look like they can do some big things for Coach Tubby Smith this year. Especially with Seniors Trevor Mbakwe and Rodney Williams leading the team.
The Indiana Hoosiers look very tough this season; most of the experts picked them this year to win it all. They would be perfect right now had it not been a loss to the pesky Butler Bulldogs. Although with their Sophomore stud Cody Zeller, I still see that as a possibility. They begin their Big Ten season with their first real away game of the year at Iowa, where I see them setting the tone and putting the rest of the Big Ten on notice.
The Illinois Fighting Illini have played pretty well so far this young season and will be a tough test for our Buckeyes in the 2nd game in conference play for both teams. With a record of 12-1 their only loss coming from a tough game against their rival the Missouri Tigers, I see this team as a contender. The Illini are lead by Senior Guard Brandon Paul who torched the Buckeyes last season for 43 points. For teams to win against the Illini they are going to have to slow that young man down.
Another team that makes me sick to my stomach for even mentioning them is TTUN (That Team Up North). I have to give respect only because of Sophomore Trey Burke, the kid is pretty good even though he’s a traitor for going up north. They have only played two decent teams and only one of them is ranked, the only reason I have them on here is because of Burke and that they are ranked #2. I am hoping that this Saturday my alma mater Central Michigan University pulls a big upset; but I’m not holding my breath. If they continue to play like they have I see them finishing 2nd in the conference.
Now on to our beloved Buckeyes (have to save the best for last), I have seen some flashes this year from this team and then in some games I don’t even know what I am watching. The Buckeyes have so much talent starting with Deshaun Thomas, who is carrying the load on offense most nights. This can’t happen in every game someone has to step up and hit the open looks, which was not done in the Kansas game. This team is missing an inside presence on offense Amir Williams is good on the defensive end 15 blocks this year, but we need someone who can post up consistently and get 12 points a game in the post. Aaron Craft has still played with the same intensity that he had as a Freshman, which gets the fans all pumped up, him and his rosy cheeks. Although I would love to see him start hitting these open looks he keeps getting, according to ESPN his FG% is 36% good for 4th worst on the team. It looks like Craft’s defensive intensity has brushed off on Shannon Scott who is leading the team in steals this year. So the team looks good, and has the ability to make a run. If we do make a run it will be because of Coach Thad Matta, he always gets this team to play well during conference play, especially in the B1G Tournament. It just depends on which squad shows up and if that squad can play an entire game and not just a half. I think we can beat any team out there if we stick to playing Buckeye basketball.
My prediction for the season is that the Hoosiers win the regular season, but then the Buckeyes make a run in the B1G Tournament. Zeller is going to have a good season in the Big Ten which is going to lead to a close race with Deshaun Thomas for Player of the Year honors. I feel that Deshaun means more to his team then Zeller does, so Deshaun wins POY. While Tom Crean wins Coach of the Year for getting Indiana back on track after their heartbreaking loss, and Freshman of the Year will go to TTUN’s Nik Stauskas, the kid has been playing well and its all I hear living in Ann Arbor. But let’s hope I’m wrong and the Buckeyes bring home a B1G Title.