Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bet The House II -- Hoosiers Will Make Basketball Move up

So here we are, on the cusp of predicting the Big Ten’s second division and where will we find Indiana?

Not last. That honor is reserved for Iowa, which will face some turmoil with the transition from fired Todd Lickliter to hired Fran McCaffery, the former highly successful Siena coach who has a lot of recruiting work to do to get this program back to Big Ten competitiveness. Still, he does have Matt Gatens, Cully Payne and Eric May to work with.

The Hoosiers won’t be 10th. Michigan seems a lock for that now that it’s without DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris. Two years ago the Wolverines were a NCAA tourney team and seemed to be on the upswing behind coach John Beilein. Then they lost their outside touch and just about everything else. Beilein shook up his staff, but that won’t be enough to get this program back on track next season.

As a reminder, we had Purdue, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Illinois as the first five. So with Michigan and Iowa taking charge of the Big Ten basement, here’s a look at the rest of the standings.

6) Northwestern: If the Wildcats hadn’t lost stud forward Kevin Coble early in the season, they would have made the NCAA tourney. Even without him, they made a run at it before settling on the NIT. Figure he’ll be back fully healthy. Add Drew Crawford and the most talent ever assembled under coach Bill Carmody, and you have a NCAA team, Northwestern’s first since Brent Musburger invented fire (okay, the Wildcat grad only seems that old).

7) Indiana: A lot of experts will put Minnesota here, but figure the Hoosiers will really gel in coach Tom Crean’s third season. The key is high-scoring Maurice Creek returning to full health after last year’s knee injury. Youth won’t be an excuse anymore. Verdell Jones will be one of the Big Ten’s best guards. Forward Derek Elston became a man the last month of the season and that has to continue. Forward Christian Watford has impressive potential. Forward Tom Pritchard needs to play like he did as a freshman and not as a sophomore. Forward Bawa Muniru just needs to play (if he’s a project, why is he here?), as does newcomer Guy-Marc Michel and his 77-foot wingspan (he’d better not be a project). And somebody has to thrive at point guard. Maybe it will be sharp-shooting Jordan Hulls. It won’t be Jeremiah Rivers, who too often drove into trouble when he wasn’t missing free throws. The bottom line, the Hoosiers will finish with a winning record and make the postseason.

8) Minnesota: Coach Tubby Smith will again have plenty of size with Ralph Sampson and Colton Iverson. The Gophers have a sharpshooter in Blake Hoffarber and an aggressive mindset that will produce yet another 20-win season for Tubby.

9) Penn State: The good news for the Nittany Lions is that guard Talor Battle decided to pass on NBA opportunity. The bad news is that there isn’t a lot of talent after him. Coach Ed DeChellis tries hard, he really does, but trying isn’t good enough in a league this strong.

So there you have it, the absolutely accurate Big Ten finish for 2011. However, to be safe, don’t bet the house.


  1. I think you will be surprised by Rivers. Did you see his improvement in free throws at the end of the year? I believe he saw what he needed to work on in the off season and will be much improved!

  2. Pete, Thanks for your blog....I really enjoy reading them. Wish I had the Crimson glasses you had on when making your pick......we do agree on something....I think MN takes 7th. Not real sure the Hoosiers can place as high as eighth. For the record I hope you are right. Doug

  3. I honestly think Rivers is one shooting coach away from being a second round pick. Now mind you it would have to be a very good shooting coach. If you look at his handle, he really has fantastic ball control and although as you point out has had issues with driving into trouble; a one trick pony runs out of options more quickly quicker than a multifaceted player. I don't disagree that Hulls has potential but it seems more difficult for Hulls who is not as quick or as agile as Rivers to make those improvements than it is for Rivers to work on his shot. Now don't misunderstand me; Hulls is a good player, but is just not as explosive as Rivers. As for Rivers, I am really surprised the son of such a successful NBA coach, hasn't been able to figure out the obvious...learn to shoot the damn basketball! Rodrerick Wilmont spent 2 summers taking 1000 shots a day to get to the cusp of making the NBA. Rivers is a much better ball-handler than Wilmont, the one piece that probably keeps Wilmont in the NBDL. Long and the short of it...Rivers shoots well this year, the Hoosiers might even get higher on your list.

  4. I hope you are right. Creeek is definitely the key but so is experience and the athleticism of the freshmen.

  5. I like the seventh position too. I have optimism in the program with lots of pieces to mold and fit in roles where they can best produce. Elston, Creek and Jones can each carry big loads. If Hulls can improve his efficiency 20% over last year and Rivers can add 10% to his the point will be adequate. Jones should offer some improved D this year. I also think Capo is going to deliver a jumpstart every time he comes off the bench. Some solid minutes in the post will have to come from several options. The 09 class will develop its chemistry this year. Ya, I like the 7th pick.

  6. Re: Rivers - If the kid cannot shoot a basketball by his 5th year he will never learn. He has the worst shot that I have seen from a starting guard at the high-major level. Rivers is a great athlete but a questionable basketball player. Shooting is fundamental and he is terrible at best.

  7. So, Minnesota is going to win 20 games and
    IU is going to finish ahead of them? I sure
    hope you are right. That would be quite an

  8. If you read the Iowa message boards, the majority of the Hawkeye fan base is predicting a winning season next year and an invitation to the NIT, with an NCAA bid the following year. Many Iowa fans are even predicting a .500 record in Big Ten play next season, a measure of how out-of-touch the Iowa fan base remains.

    I believe that disappointment awaits in Iowa City.

  9. I think Watford showed more than "potential" last year, with 12 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. D.J. White numbers his freshman year were 13.3 points and 4.9 rebounds. All these guys are in first on second year. Jones, Creek and Watford could all be all Big Ten talents. I'm betting we finish higher than 7th.

  10. hope your wrong, but i see it a little like that as well. i would just like to end with a 500 record in the big ten. GO HOOSIERS

  11. Rivers is our best defender if he could improve his shot he will be the starter and Hulls the back up. Hulls is a good player but not Alford or Rayl if he has to start at the point we won't be going anyplace in March but home.

  12. If Minny gets a 20 win season, then you're predicting an 19 or 20 win for the Hoosiers. Unless they're playing the Horizon, that ain't going to happen.

    Once again, Indiana will be young, undersized, and not as talented as all but Iowa, Penn State, and maybe Michigan. Those are your bottom 4.

    Indiana's only senior is Rivers and he's a backup on a good team (see Georgetown). The bigs aren't very good with Pritchard, Bawa, and Bobby C. The last juco player to make an impact would be....... Whereas I love Creek, Jones, and Elston, Hulls is better suited in the A-10 or Valley and the two freshman will have little or no impact next season.

    The question mark is Watford. As he goes, IU will follow. 15-16 wins will be a good step forward in a BIG10 that will feature 4 of the top 15 teams in the country: Purdue, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Illinois. They all have at least 5 top 50 players on their roster wheras IU only has Creek and Watford who are both sophomores.

    If it's the same schedule as last year, IU will face those teams 7 times. I can't imagine winning more than a game or two against them. The rest of the conference with Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Northwestern right behind the elite won't be that much easier either.

  13. You are all wrong, IU will finish second behind Purdue. Take it to the bank. Remember this next year.

  14. Michel is a JC transfer, not a freshman. Way to do your research.

  15. Indiana: 3 fr, 5 So, 6 Jr, and 1 Sr for this coming year. I am one of the biggest hoosier fans there is, and I admit I was disappointed that they didn't do better last year. As of this year, I can't see considering them a young team anymore, with nearly half the class being in the upper half. I think they will be able to contend with the top big ten teams this year. I realize this is tough to see as being possible considering that they have been struggling the last few years. But if they are going to have a good season, now is the time.