2008-09 Big Ten Men's Basketball Preview
In this year's preseason AP poll, the Big Ten has three teams in the top 25, headed by No. 6 Michigan State, along with No. 11 Purdue and No. 25 Wisconsin. All three will contend for a Big Ten championship. Here is a preview for each team and how they will finish
- Michigan State 25-3 (16-2)
- Purdue 23-5 (14-4)
- Wisconsin 21-7 (13-5)
- Minnesota 24-6 (13-5)
- Ohio State 21-8 (12-6)
- Iowa 18-12 (9-9)
- Illinois 16-14 (8-10)
- Penn State 17-13 (6-12)
- Indiana 11-17 (5-13)
- Michigan 9-19 (2-16)
- Northwestern 9-20 (1-17)
Last season was a rebuilding year in Champagne as the Illini missed the NCAA tournament for the first time under Bruce Weber.
The Illini have C Stan Simpson coming in as a freshman this year, which should help fill the hole left by Shaun Pruitt. They also have senior guards Trent Meacham and Chester Frazier returning, who will play tenacious defense. Overall, this is a better team than last year's squad, but still no NCAA tournament.
The Hoosiers were in the news as much as anyone in the offseason by firing Kelvin Sampson and hiring of Marquette coach Tom Crean.
The Hoosiers have lost the bulk of their team from last season, which made the NCAA tournament and lost in the first round. Stars DJ White and Eric Gordon are now in the NBA, and many scholarship players transferred after the firing of Sampson.
Indiana does have a good recruiting class coming in this year, lead by SG Nick Williams, but this class will be asked to lead this team and play a lot of minutes. The learning curve for these kids will take a while. A tough season is ahead in Bloomington.
The Hawkeyes are not great, but don't sleep on this team. They could pull a couple of upsets in the Big Ten, especially at home.
They have some key pieces returning, as well as incoming freshmen Matt Gatens and Andrew Brommer, as well as four others who will have an immediate impact on this team. This is definitely a Big Ten team on the rise.
Michigan looked horrendous last year, and will be even worse this year. Manny Harris is the only true scoring threat returning, and with a horrible recruiting class, this team will be on the decline.
They play a tough schedule featuring road games at Maryland and Connecticut, and a home game versus Duke, which won't help. Michigan fans better savor the football season. Oops, my bad, never mind.
Coach Tom Izzo looks to regain focus for a team that was very inconsistent last season. They have a rivals.com No. 22 ranked recruiting class coming in.
The Spartans did lose Drew Neitzel and Drew Naymick, but leading scorer Raymar Morgan is returning, along with Kalin Lucas, who will be expected to score a lot more this season. Izzo has a good group here.
This will be year two for Tubby Smith in Minneapolis. He has a rivals.com No. 23 ranked recruiting class coming in as his first true class at Minnesota.
The Gophers made the NIT last year, but look for them to have a better season with some holes being filled with a solid group of freshmen and make the NCAA tournament.
They are the doormat of the Big Ten. Last year they finished a dismal 8-22, winning only one Big Ten game.
Leading scorer Kevin Coble is returning this year, and they have a couple of freshmen that will get a lot of minutes, but the Wildcats simply do not have the weapons to compete in the Big Ten.
Defending NIT Champions! That does not ring well in the ears of Buckeye fans, as Ohio State failed to make the NCAA tournament last season.
Look for the Buckeyes to make leaps and bounds with a rivals.com No. 5 recruiting class. This will be a very young team, but Thad Matta will get this group peaking at the right time. They will definitely be a factor in the Big Ten title race.
Penn State showed flashes of greatness last year, but didn't quite have the tools to put it all together. Top player Geary Claxton's injury may have hampered their success.
The Nittany Lions will have trouble competing with the top teams in the conference, but have a definite shot to make a move on the middle echelon teams.
They were the surprise of the Big Ten last year, but Purdue will not sneak up on anyone this year. The Boilermakers have a relatively easy schedule, so look for them to pile up the wins and move up in the rankings.
This Big Ten season will be no different. With a very young team and players like Robbie Hummel and E'Twaun Moore returning, this team has a fantastic shot at a Big Ten title.
The Badgers are defending Big Ten champions, and Bo Ryan will put another competitive team on the court this year.
They did lose some major pieces to the puzzle, but have a very good recruiting class coming in, as well as Marcus Landry and Trevon Hughes returning. This team will play some of the best defense in the country and score just enough to beat anyone. They are sure shot Big Ten contenders.
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