Indiana Basketball: Big Ten Teams Hoosiers Should Be Most Worried About
Indiana Hoosiers basketball is coming off a championship year. For the first time since 1993, IU won an outright regular-season Big Ten title. The majority of that team, however, is gone.
Indiana isn't the only team to lose key players. Other stellar players who are no longer in the Big Ten include Michigan's Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke, Minnesota's Trevor Mbakwe, Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas and Illinois' Brandon Paul.
The stars of last season may be gone, but the Big Ten is still going to be a tough conference full of quality teams.
This slideshow will discuss which one teams the Hoosiers should be most worried about.
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Purdue makes this list not because it will necessarily be an elite Big Ten team but because it will be much improved and is IU’s biggest rival.
Recently, Indiana has dominated Purdue, winning the last four games. After two years of dominance, Purdue looks ready to get back to its winning ways.
Purdue has a solid core with the Johnson brothers of Terone and Ronnie and big man A.J. Hammons. Hammons lit up the Hoosiers (30 points, five rebounds, five blocks) in the first of two meetings last season. He poses a huge problem (literally) for Indiana because of its lack of size.
The Boilermakers may have struggled last season (16-18, 8-10 Big Ten), but they will be much improved in 2013-14 and could topple the Hoosiers.
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Despite losing its two best players, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke, Michigan is going to be one of the Big Ten's top teams. Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas make up a solid core for the Wolverines.
Joining these three stellar sophomores is one of the top recruiting classes in the nation. Rivals.com has the class ranked No. 12.
Zak Irvin will be a dynamic freshman for Michigan. He is a small forward ranked No. 22 in ESPN's 100. So, Michigan might be losing its main offensive threats but is reloading with a great class of freshmen.
Indiana's roster is going to be filled with young talent, but the same can be said for Michigan's. Its three best players will be sophomores with plenty of experience, whereas Indiana's main talent will be inexperienced freshmen.
This is a problem that IU will face all season, especially against Michigan.
Ohio State Buckeyes
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Like Iowa, Ohio State returns the bulk of its key contributors. Point guard Aaron Craft is back, and joining him are LaQuinton Ross, Amir Williams and Lenzelle Smith Jr.
Ohio State gives the Hoosiers problems because of its defense. Craft is a pest and has the ability to take the opposing point guard out of the game. This doesn't bode well for Indiana because it will depend on Yogi Ferrell to make plays.
The Buckeyes must find a way to replace their leading scorer Deshaun Thomas, but it shouldn't be too big of a problem. Two ESPN 100 recruits, No. 58 Kameron Williams and No. 62 Marc Loving, will help solve the scoring dilemma.
Michigan State Spartans
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Michigan State is going to be the class of the Big Ten in 2013-14. The Spartans are losing just one player, Derrick Nix. They return an impressive lineup.
Highlighted by Gary Harris and Adreian Payne, Michigan State is currently the most talented team in the Big Ten. Those two players are a matchup nightmare for the Hoosiers.
Payne is a post player who can step out and hit outside shots. When looking at Indiana's roster, it's tough to find a combination of size and speed that can handle him.
Harris is a phenomenal playmaker. Will Sheehey is a solid defender, but Harris will be an incredibly tough assignment.
Plain and simple, the Spartans are more talented than the Hoosiers. They will most likely cause them plenty of problems when they meet next season.
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Iowa may not have the most talent in the Big Ten, but it has plenty of experience. When the Hoosiers face the Hawkeyes, the game will feature newcomers versus developed college players.
Iowa returns its entire roster except for one player. With all five starters back, it will be a force to be reckoned with in the conference. Last year’s team pushed the Hoosiers in a close game, and that Indiana team was ranked No. 5 in the country at the time.
Iowa has improved every season since head coach Fran McCaffery took over (11-20, 18-17, 25-13). Expect this veteran squad to be a major problem for the Hoosiers.