2006 Big Ten Basketball Predictions
2006 Big Ten Preview
The Big 10 is a conference that has been weakened by graduation, early defections to the NBA and academic attrition. Still, the conference has three of the top 25 teams in the nation—Ohio State, Wisconsin and Illinois. It also features some fine up and coming clubs, including Purdue and Penn State.
The Ohio State Buckeyes were good last season and are still good this season. With the best freshman in the nation at center and some fine juniors and seniors, this Buckeye team under the leadership of coach Thad Matta could go all the way in 2006- 07.
Bo Ryan is the head coach of the competitive Wisconsin Badgers. Alando Tucker, in the frontcourt, can score in huge bunches, while intimidating offenses at the opposite end of the court. Like Ohio State, this Wisconsin team offers a fine mix of vets and first-year guys.
The Fighting Illini of Illinois lost both Dee Brown and James Augustine—two key point makers. But there are still plenty of strong starters, including Brian Randle and Rich McBride. Coach Bruce Weber has prepped this team for a tough season and the NCAA tourney.
Purdue is one of the most improved teams in the conference due to the fact that so many players that were injured or suffered academic problems last season are now ready to play. David Teague and Carl Landry will lead head coach Matt Painter’s team.
For the Michigan Wolverines, Courtney Sims, Dion Harris and Lester Abram should provide points and “D.” The point guard position is a question mark for coach Tommy Amaker’s team. This area must be addressed or this club could sink quickly.
Indiana’s Hoosiers managed to keep D.J. White and his stellar play on board, making coach Kelvin Sampson’s first year a bit less stressful. For this team to succeed, White must stay healthy and shoot accurately. Junior transfer Lance Stemler offers additional points.
Maurice Ager, Paul Davis and Shannon Brown—three key players—are gone, leaving the Michigan State Spartans exposed. Junior point guard Drew Neitzel had a breakout sophomore season and looks to do even better this year. Coach Tom Izzo will have to be at the top of his game in order to get to the NCAA Tournament.
The Lions of Penn State, led by coach Ed DeChellis, look to be competitive this season. Last year, the Nittany Lions made it to the NIT, while this season the team returns everyone except second leading scorer Travis Parker, meaning either NIT or NCAA Tournament.
Look for Iowa head coach Steve Alford to be totally committed to making it to March Madness. Two solid seniors—Adam Haluska and Mike Henderson, man the guard positions. But too many freshmen and transfers will make Alford’s goal tough to attain.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers saw four starters and most of the club’s scoring depart after last season. Dan Monson’s team lacks depth and known go-to players. This is a developmental year for this team.
Finally, the Northwestern Wildcats, under the leadership of coach Bill Carmody, will try to overachieve, but fans should not expect them to do much more than win a few games. Too many vets are gone and the new guys are tough to figure out. Look for this team to finish last.
Although the Big 10 is not the most dynamic conference in the NCAA, the league does offer tough, hardnosed play from top to bottom. Four or five teams could be in the NCAA mix this season.
2006 Big Ten Basketball Predictions
Projected Order of Finish, Click on Team Name for Individual Team Preview:
2) Wisconsin Badgers
3) Illinois Fighting Illini
4) Purdue Boilermakers
5) Michigan Wolverines
6) Indiana Hoosiers
7) Michigan State Spartans
8) Penn State Nittany Lions
9) Iowa Hawkeyes
10) Minnesota Golden Gophers
11) Northwestern Wildcats