2007 Big Ten Basketball Preview
The Big Ten features some mythological basketball teams, including Indiana and Purdue, both of which should contend for Big Dance March Madness coverage , and some potential powerhouses such as Michigan State, Wisconsin and Ohio State. It’s a conference that carries a wealth of topnotch coaches and boasts of a fine incoming freshman class. Additionally, three of the 11 teams have brought new coaches on board.
Watch out for Michigan State. They’re a top 20 team and perhaps the best in the Big Ten. The team returns five starters and features all-conference guard Drew Neitzel. Look for some of those State juniors to take another giant leap forward like they did in their sophomore season. This club could be in the Final Four.
Will the Hoosiers of Indiana finish first, second or third? Chances are the team, which has a whole lot of depth, will come in second this season and go fairly deep into the second season. This team will be tested by out of conference games and prepped for a March Madness run.
Who will be the third place team? It could be Ohio State or it could be Wisconsin or it could be Penn State. Penn State, you ask? Possibly, the Nittany Lions could be a contender this year, which is something they have not been for a long time. The Buckeyes have depth despite losing three major players and the Badgers can throw the ball through the hoop and shut down opponents.
Although Purdue has seen some changes in key personnel, third-year coach Matt Painter has assembled a solid team of freshmen and upper classmen. With talented freshman JaJuan Johnson at center, the Boilermakers could certainly be in the NCAA tourney again.
Another contender in what is an extremely tight conference are the Illinois Fighting Illini. They make a habit of going to the tournament, and Illini coach Bruce Weber has sound coaching skills and a fine mind for strategy.
Coach Jim Carmody of Northwestern has spent seven years building the basketball program. Could this be the first year that the Wildcats are selected to go to the Big Dance? With incoming talent and returning starters, Carmody’s club just might join in this year’s March Madness.
The Michigan Wolverines are looking to new head coach John Beilein to build their team into a contender. They have not been to the NCAA tournament in over a decade. It will take a few years before Michigan is a March Madness bracket choice.
Hiring new head coach Tubby Smith was a coup for the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Smith will focus on defense, developing existing talent and recruitment. Under their new coach, the Gophers should win more than nine games, which is what they did last year.
The Iowa Hawkeyes are the third team with a new coach. Todd Lickliter was not the flashiest choice to head the team, but he should bring a good work ethic to the court and basketball smarts.
The Big Ten is a conference on the rise. Watch out for them in college basketball betting lines this year!
2007 Big Ten Basketball NCAA predictions
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2) Indiana Hoosiers
3) Ohio State Buckeyes
4) Wisconsin Badgers
5) Penn State Nittany Lions
6) Purdue Boilermakers
7) Illinois Fighting Illini
8) Northwestern Wildcats
9) Michigan Wolverines
10) Minnesota Golden Gophers
11) Iowa Hawkeyes