Big Ten Basketball: 5 Things to Look for During the 2011-2012 Season
With lots of talent from the Big Ten's 2010-2011 campaign returning, the league looks to be among the nation's best.
Players like Jordan Taylor, Jared Sullinger, and Tim Hardaway Jr. all returning, and highly-touted freshman like Branden Dawson and Cody Zeller looking to improve their teams, the Big Ten looks to be a very competitive league week in and week out.
Known for it's rough-style of play, expect much of the same from the Big Ten this year.
Big Ten Player of the Year
Sullinger (#0) and Taylor (#11) are the front runners for Big Ten POY
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With All-Big Ten selections, Jared Sullinger of OSU and Jordan Taylor of Wisconsin, this looks to be a lot like a two person race most of the year.
Look for Sullinger to be a front runner for the Pete Newell award, awarded to the best low-post player, and look for Taylor to be a front runner for the Bob Cousy Award, which is awarded to the best point guard.
Both with be the nations elite and possible Naismith award winners as well (awarded to the best college basketball player). A dark horse is All-Big Ten selection from 2009, Robbie Hummel who returns from a torn ACL which forced Hummel to sit out the 2010 season.
Top Talent Returns
Michigan returns Tim Hardaway Jr. for his sophomore season
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Along with Sullinger, Taylor, and Hummel, the Big Ten returns All-Big Ten freshman selection Tim Hardaway Jr. of Michigan, Minnesota's big man Trevor Mbakwe, and MSU's do-it-all guy Draymond Green.
Other Key Returnees include:
Brandon Paul (Illinois), DJ Richardson (Illinois), Aaron Craft (OSU), William Buford (OSU), Jordan Hulls (IU), Christian Watford (IU), Melsahn Basabe (Iowa), Zach Novak (Michigan), Keith Appling (MSU), Ralph Sampson III (Minnesota), Rodney Williams (Minnesota), John Shurna (Northwestern), Drew Crawford (Northwestern), Mike Brusewitz (Wisconsin), Tim Frazier (Penn State)
Sadler's Cornhuskers will have to adjust to the physical play of the Big Ten
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How will the addition of Doc Sadler's Nebraska team affect the Big Ten? Can they compete with the likes of MSU, OSU, Wisconsin, and Michigan? Will they be able to handle the Big Ten's physical play?
7-9 in Big 12 Play
Wins against Colorado, USC, Texas A&M, Texas, Oklahoma St, and Missouri.
Jorge Brian Diaz (Jr.) and Toney McCray (Sr.)
Top 25 Teams
Bo Ryan's Badgers are ranked #14 in AP preseason poll
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The Big Ten has been among the nation's best conferences in the past and expect much of the same this year.
Ohio State No. 3
The Buckeyes were the tournament's overall No. 1 seed last year, but failed to reach the final four when they lost to Kentucky in the Sweet 16. Jared Sullinger, Aaron Craft, and William Buford are back for more looking for OSU's first final four since the 2006-2007 season.
Wisconsin No. 5
Wisconsin returns PG Jordan Taylor, but with the Forwards Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil graduating, the likes of Josh Gasser, Ryan Evans, Nike Brusewitz, and Jared Berggren will have to step up for the Badgers.
Michigan No. 18
The loss of PG Darius Morris prevented this team from a preseason top 10 ranking, but expect the tough minded Wolverines to be solid all year round with the likes of Tim Hardaway Jr., Zach Novak, Jordan Morgan, Stu Douglass, Evan Smotrycz. Freshman Trey Burke will try to fill the void left by Morris.
**Rankings are from the AP preseason poll
Big Ten Race
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With talent all across the board the Big Ten looks up for grabs.
Will it be the typical cast of characters the past few years,OSU, Wisconsin, MSU, and Purdue or can the likes of Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, Illinois and even Indiana breakthrough and win a conference title?