The starting lineup is, for the most part, a lock.
Reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and everyone's No. 1 candidate for Most Hated Player Because He's Annoyingly Effective, Aaron Craft, is the obvious leader and starter at point guard.
Preseason First-Team All-American Deshaun Thomas' spot is somewhere around 101 percent certain.
Lenzelle Smith Jr. showed flashes of brilliance last season both against Indiana (28 points on 12 shots) and in the Big Dance (11 points, 1.8 threes made per game), and will start at the 2.
The final wing and post positions, however, are a little more up in the air.
Amir Williams should start at center simply because of his size (6'11", 250 pounds). He certainly isn't as experienced (6.6 mpg last year as a freshman) as lone senior Evan Ravenel, but Ravenel will only play center when Thad Matta decides to go small.
Then you have the most intriguing battle of the past three months: LaQuinton Ross. vs. Sam Thompson.
Most expected that Thompson would grab the starting spot, but during last week's exhibition against Walsh, Matta went with Ross to begin things off. Sophomore No.1, Ross, finished with 13 points and five rebounds in 21 minutes. Sophomore No. 2, Thompson, played more minutes off the bench, 29, and chipped in 11 points, four rebounds, four assists, three blocks and two steals.
For what it's worth, I'm a bigger fan of Thompson. He has the athleticism to step on Yao Ming's head. (See above video. Yikes.) And while his outside shot is far from where it needs to be, he's an effective slasher who's also dominant and disruptive on the defensive end.
It could end up being that Matta will use him more than Ross, but he just likes his energy off the bench, similar to Ravenel. It could also mean that Matta will be playing around with multiple different starting lineups to begin the season.
|Position ||Starter ||Backup
|Point Guard ||Aaron Craft ||Shannon Scott
|Shooting Guard ||
Lenzelle Smith Jr. ||
Amedeo Della Valle
|Small Forward ||
LaQuinton Ross ||Sam Thompson
|Power Forward ||
Deshaun Thomas ||Evan Ravenel
Amir Williams ||Trey McDonald