Well ... it's time again to scavenge the closets for your crystal balls
and Ouija boards and try to foretell the next Big Ten Basketball Champion.
You have to do it before anyone else does so you can brag you were the
first one to "know" it. Because that six-pack of Blatz beer is on the line
(the loser is forced to drink it). And if you're completely wrong and you
survive your drinking punishment ... well, you develop amnesia about
Big Ten BB and start focusing your attention on spring baseball practice.
Believe it or not (skeptics need not apply), I actually have some luck
with this. Now, what makes my predictions a bit different from most of
the Merlins and Madame Zarbos out there is that I'll actually present
information and facts to back my perspective up.
Whoa! A dated concept, I know. Using facts in sports analysis went
out the window as soon as Hard Copy aired ... but bear with me. You
just might enjoy it.
First, let's look at how the Big Ten finished last year. Now, this isn't
conjecture. This is actually as official as it gets. So don't have hurt
feelings if your team isn't ranked that high. We all have to do our
own little parts to deal with reality.
1996-97 Big Ten Basketball Final Standings
6. Michigan State
9. Ohio State
10. Penn State
Many things have transpired since those standings, though. Horrible,
gut-wrenching things to some Big Ten programs. Major personnel changes
occurred to some Big Ten programs. Some programs changed very little.
Overall, I would say the action that transpired in most of these
programs was pretty intense. Thus, I predict some major shake-ups in the
hierarchy of the Big Ten conference. As I defend my predictions, I'll try
to enlighten you of the major highlights of occurrences for each program.
The information I've gathered on these programs is not infallible.
However, almost all of it has been contributed from at least two different
sources (and the Ouija board doesn't count). Any information I'm unclear
about I'll try to point out. If you find any information inaccurate-
please let me know. I'll attempt to clear it up.
Rufus Talladega's Predictions for the 1997-98 Big Ten Final Standings
3. (Tie) Indiana
3. (Tie) Wisconsin
6. (Tie) Michigan
6. (Tie) Michigan State
8. (Tie) Ohio State
8. (Tie) Illinois
10. Penn State
In comparison, you'll notice that IU rose significantly from last year's
results, while Minnesota and Illinois took nose-dives. I do have
explanations for that. From a macroscopic point of view, most of the Big
Ten programs have improved their status from last season- though due to
a lot of setbacks to many Big Ten programs- their status dropped back
from a level of improvement that would have made the Big Ten conference
stunning this season. Purdue, Iowa, IU, and Wisconsin all look like
significantly better clubs than they did last year. Thus, if a Big Ten
program stood still over the summer (or lost ground), they dropped like
a rock in this season's standings.
Nutshell: Purdue returns basically the same team as last year except they
have more help at point guard. But instead of playing 4 freshman for
major minutes, they now have 5 sophomores (Mosi Barnes is all healed
now). Purdue has won the Big Ten championship every year Keady gets to
take his team on a Summer Europe Tour (happened three times before) to
improve team chemistry and this summer Purdue had an unprecedented,
unbeaten record overseas. Three of the Purdue players (Austin, Miller, and
Cardinal) played ball all summer- either in Europe or on the USA team.
Additionally, Purdue's the Big Ten team with the best winning record in
this decade and is experienced in winning Big Ten Championships.
Strengths: Keady and one of the best home-field advantages in the nation.
Their team is young but they have two star seniors (Austin and Miller)
and the young players they do have played more minutes as freshmen than
most people short of the Fab Five did. Purdue was second in the conference
in both steals and blocks (fourth in assists) and since Purdue didn't lose
any major players, expect that to remain unchanged. Additionally, Chad
Austin is the top returning scorer in the Big Ten from last season (AVG
19.11 ppg). Brad Miller is the 9th top returning scorer in the Big Ten.
Purdue has one of the toughest pre-conference schedules in the Big Ten
(if not THE toughest). The entire Purdue roster this season will be 11
players, and 7 of them are guards. So expect a three-guard offense with
lots of running and fast-breaks. With the competition and the lack of
bodies, the Boilermakers' flame could get snuffed out early due to
B. Lack of Frontcourt Depth
There are only 4 players on the Purdue roster taller than 6-3. Mike
Robinson (6-6), Gary McQuay (6-8), Brian Cardinal (6-8), and Brad Miller
(6-11). Although Purdue does not typically get into foul trouble, a big
player fouling out or an injury in the frontcourt could set Purdue's
sights back a bit.
C. Questions at Point Guard
One of Purdue's big weaknesses last year was a lack of ability at Point
Guard. Chad Austin could play point, but only in sacrificing a lot of
his scoring in the game. Sophomore Alan Eldridge had many problems
playing point guard for Purdue last year and our other two point guards
were unavailable due to red-shirting (B.J. Carretta (walk-on)) and
injury (Mosi Barnes).
One reason for Purdue's problem was the quality of point guard Purdue
had to face in the Big Ten last season. Kiwane Garris, A.J. Guyton,
Andre Woolridge, Bobby Jackson/Eric Harris, Louis Bullock, Damon
Stringer ... you get the idea. Many of these guys have graduated and
younger, less experienced PGs have taken their place.
Purdue's situation at point guard will be much better this coming season,
regardless of the shape of the other clubs. Eldridge had a 3:1 Assist to
Turnover ratio playing for Purdue in Europe this season (which is awesome
compared to his play in the Big Ten last season of 1:1). Also, Purdue has
recruited a JUCO Point Guard (Tony Mayfield) who averages 8.0 apg and
12 ppg. I've seen him play and I am well-assured he exactly fits the bill
for what Purdue needs at point. And if I'm wrong, there's also red-shirt
freshman B.J. Carretta and sophomore Mosi Barnes to choose from for point
So although a problem, I believe Purdue has it properly addressed.
Matt ten Dam Center
Paul Gilvydis Walk-on Center
Luther Clay Sophomore Power Forward
Note: Left late summer 1996. Transferred to
University of Rhode Island.
David Lesmond Junior Wing Guard
Note: Left to play pro ball in Europe.
B.J. Carretta Freshman Walk-on Combo Guard Red-shirted
Mosi Barnes Sophomore Point Guard Injury in 96
Tony Mayfield JUCO Jr. Point Guard Recruited
Cameron Stephens Wing Forward Recruited
Note: Not acad. eligible this season.
Jamaal Davis Power Forward/ Center Recruited
Note: Not acad. eligible this season.
Carson Cunningham Sophomore Combo Guard Transfer
Note: Transfer from Oregon State.
Not eligible this season.
Both Stephens and Davis were Top 50 or Top 100 prospects. But neither
made the grades well enough to play BB this season at Purdue. Although
both intend to attend Purdue this year as Prop 48s and get their grades up
for next year, Jamaal Davis is facing a "Class D Felony- Criminal Reckless
Driving" charge (or something like that) relating to an auto accident he
caused while speeding in a construction zone on an Indiana highway. He,
himself, wound up in the hospital for a month.
Mayfield has had some good things spoken about him. Most agree that he is
a "true" point guard who can lead a team and create assists. He will have
a strong presence at Purdue; particularly if Eldridge does a repeat
performance of last season.
Cunningham will be a prized asset to Purdue when he is eligible to play,
either at shooting guard or point guard. He won't be able to play until the
1998-99 season, however.
One of the toughest pre-conference schedules in the conference. Purdue will
face Kentucky, Louisville, Xavier (OH), Providence, and possibly either
UCLA or North Carolina in the Great Alaska Shootout Tournament.
On the Big Ten front, they play Iowa only once and they have to face their
most likely opponent for the Big Ten Championship on the Hawkeyes' home
court. To Purdue's favor, they only play Wisconsin once, this time at
Big Ten Club History:
Purdue has swept IU the past two years (thanks in large part to last-second
shots by Chad Austin). Purdue has also had a good record against Michigan
and Minnesota this decade, though Purdue got swept by Minnesota last
season. And Northwestern has a bad record against everybody so I won't
mention them again.
Illinois is the only Big Ten team to be close to beating Purdue out in the
series record category. However, Purdue swept Illinois last season. This
decade, Purdue's had a tough time beating Iowa (esp. at Iowa) and Coach
Bennett of Wisconsin has always made a game of it against Keady.
Nutshell: They lost Andre Woolridge but they gained Jess Settles. They
have the deepest frontcourt in the conference and a rebounding advantage
over any team in the country (if you forget about that Michigan State game
last season). If their young guards can distribute the ball and become an
outside scoring threat, Iowa will have a very good chance on getting the
Big Ten Championship. They've been close a few times this decade, but
haven't been able to pull it off. Yet.
Strengths: Rebounding and depth, combined with an aggressive press defense
and a lot of fast breaks. Iowa also has five seniors (one starter) and a
long-time hunger for a Big Ten Championship.
A. Backcourt (Depth and experience)
For the fall, Iowa has only four scholarship guards (Kent McClausland,
Ryan Luehrsmann, Dean Oliver, and Wing Guard Ricky Davis). A junior, a
sophomore, and two freshmen- respectively. Jeff Walker, a sophomore
shooting guard who was ineligible last season is academically ineligible
for the fall (at least) this season as well.
Can Luehrsmann and freshman Dean Oliver (Top 50 prospect) distribute the
ball effectively in the Big Ten this season? The Big Ten is harsh on
young point guards. For every A.J. Guyton who does well their freshman
year, there seems to be a half dozen guards (like Alan Eldridge and Mateen
Cleaves) who don't. It's definitely a concern ...
B. Injured/Ineligible Players
There are questions about Jess Settles being back to full health by the
beginning of this season. Jeff Walker, a needed body in the backcourt,
may not play a single game this season if he doesn't get academically
qualified. At this time, an injury or two in the guard positions could
snub Iowa's dreams for the Big Ten- much like Purdue's dreams could be
snubbed by injuries to their frontcourt.
C. Pre-conference Schedule
A few seasons ago, Iowa was the favorite for the Big Ten championship and
they fell apart in early conference play. Although many reasons have been
offered to explain the situation, I personally believe it was due to
Iowa's weak pre-conference schedule. They were over-confident and
unprepared for the brutality and cut-throat action of Big Ten play. Iowa's
pre-conference schedule doesn't look too impressive this season either -
playing the likes of Drake, Bucknell, and Long Island. However, some
adversity may be found in the Missouri, Iowa State, and Northern Iowa
games that are scheduled and it's unknown at this time who Iowa will face
in the San Juan Shootout this fall in Puerto Rico. But, it looks like Iowa
should have an easy time being unbeaten coming into Big Ten play.
Andre Woolridge Combo Guard
Jeff Walker Sophomore Shooting Guard
Note: Acad. Ineligible for fall semester.
Jess Settles Senior Wing Forward Injured last season
Marcelo Gomes Freshman Power Forward Red-shirted
Ricky Davis Freshman Wing Guard Recruited
Dean Oliver Freshman Point Guard Recruited
John Carl Williams Freshman Forward Recruited
Kyle Galloway Freshman Walk-on Forward Recruited
The class was rated 45th in the nation, but that didn't include the
walk-ons, the red-shirt Gomes or the returning Jess Settles (just Davis
Marcelo Gomes is described by an Iowa BB follower as somebody who can
come off the bench and lend some support. But he won't be a high-impact
player for this season at least.
Ricky Davis is a 6-6 Wing Guard who will probably play a lot of shooting
guard since Jeff Walker is ineligible. Rated #14 in the nation by Francis,
#48 by Prep Stars and #40 by Gibbons, he averaged 28.7 ppg and 7.6 rpg in
Dean Oliver is a 5-11 Point Guard rated #37 by Francis, #41 by Prep Stars,
#38 by Ranker, and #45 by Gibbons, Oliver averaged 20.1 ppg and 7.6 apg in
John Carl Williams is a pre-Med major and a 6-9 defensive specialist in
basketball (had 205 blocks in his last 3 years of high school). I am
unclear on whether he is a scholarship or walk-on player.
Kyle Galloway is a 6-7 walk-on forward from Sioux City. He averaged 23
ppg, 13 rpg, and over 50% FG from 3 point range in high school. He was
also over 90% on free throws. Not bad for a walk-on ...
They only have to play Purdue and Wisconsin once (at home and away,
respectively). The month of January should be an easy month for Iowa in the
Big Ten season as they play all the teams expected to be in the lower
division of play.
Their pre-conference schedule doesn't blow my skirt up, either. Missouri
and Iowa State look to be their toughest competition coming into Big Ten
Big Ten Club History:
Iowa has a tough time winning at Purdue, but that won't be a problem this
season. I believe the Illinois and Iowa games have been pretty contested
this decade. Wisconsin gave Iowa a hard time last season and I don't
believe that Iowa matches up well against the Michigan State team.
I've since been told (unconfirmed) that shooting guard Jeff Walker will
be heading to junior college this year, leaving Iowa only four deep in
guards (with two true freshmen). Well ... I guess we can rule out a three-
guard offense for Iowa this season. This realization alone doesn't warrant
me demoting Iowa in the rankings- but it does put Iowa out on a limb as
far as backcourt depth goes. Thus Purdue, IU, and Wisconsin's positions
have been strengthened - in a potential sense. If Iowa's freshmen perform
and there are no injuries, this is all a moot point, isn't it?
3. (Tie) Indiana
Nutshell: Seven new players in a Top 10 recruiting class adds talent to a
roster that already has two or three McDonald's All-Americans on it
(Patterson, Collier, and Charlie Miller?). Talent-wise, I have no doubt
this team has what it takes to win not only the Big Ten Championship but
also the NCAA championship this year. But it takes more than talent. It
also takes teamwork and some knowledge of defense. If Knight and company
can solve those problems, the Hoosiers make a nightmare of an opponent.
Strengths: Third in blocks and scoring offense last season. First in Free
Throw % and second in 3-Pt Field Goal % Off. Bobby Knight is still one of
college basketball's great coaching talents (though he won't win any
popularity contests outside of Bloomington). On offense, IU has more power
than any opponent can reciprocate (possible exceptions are Duke and
Last in the conference in defensive rebounding and only fifth in offensive
rebounding (ninth in rebounding margin). With as many big guys as they had
(Mujezinovic, Mandeville, Patterson, Collier, Eggers, Richardson), I
couldn't believe it possible how poorly they rebounded.
Tenth in the conference in scoring defense. Translation: they don't know
how to defend properly. See the IU at Purdue or IU at Wisconsin games last
year to see what I'm talking about. Complete break-down ...
C. Team Chemistry
Another concern for the Hoosiers is team chemistry. They were doing fine
last year in pre-conference and then the team chemistry soured and IU went
plummeting in the standings. Knight's solution to fixing team chemistry
was to send (or allow the team, by voting, to send) point guard Neil Reed
elsewhere. Time will tell if his (their) solution works.
Haris Mujezinovic JUCO Center
Neil Reed Point Guard Transfer
Note: Transferred to Southern Mississippi
Luke Recker Freshman Wing Guard Recruited
Kirk Haston Freshman Center Recruited
Rob Turner JUCO Jr. Shooting Guard Recruited
William Gladness JUCO Jr. Power Forward Recruited
Antwaan Randle El Freshman Walk-on Point Guard Recruited
Note: Part. acad. eligibility this season. He can
practice but can't play in games.
Tom Geyer Freshman Walk-on Power Forward Recruited.
Levron Williams Freshman Walk-on Combo Guard Recruited
Note: Acad. ineligible this season.
In my opinion, Luke Recker is the most talented BB player to be recruited
into the Big Ten this year. Offensively, he can kill any opponent if not
guarded and harassed. He also knows how to pass and has at least heard of
defense and how it pertains to basketball. He and Charlie Miller will
make a deadly one-two punch at the small forward position. Recker was in
the Top 50 (if not Top 10) of every ratings poll I saw and averaged 34.2
ppg, 7.7 rpg, and 5.1 apg in high school. He's 6-5 and 190 lbs.
Kirk Haston, a cousin to Recker, averaged 18.3 ppg, 12.2 rpg, and 4.1 bpg
in high school. His offensive skills are there but his defense needs work
(much like most of the IU team). He'll be a decent back-up (with
development) to Jason Collier. Haston is 6-10 and 230 lbs. (about the size
of Purdue's Brad Miller).
Rob Turner is a shooting guard through and through. He can pass but not
well enough to be a point guard. He looks to score and often does. He
averaged 23.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg, and 4.2 apg in his junior college- the same
team where Purdue recruit Tony Mayfield (8 apg, 12 ppg) played point
guard. Turner shoots more than 50% from the field and rebounds well for a
6-4 guard. Most of his rebounding skill comes from the fact that he never
gives up trying to get the ball.
William Gladness is 6-8 and 230 lbs. He was 1st team JUCO All-American and
had 20.2 ppg, 9.9 rpg, and a 63% FG. He gets a lot of his points from
offensive rebounds and put-backs. He looks to me like he needs to develop
more muscle to be effective in the Big Ten.
The walk-ons are decent players but nothing (talent-wise) like the ones
One of the better pre-conference schedules in the Big Ten. Kentucky ...
Temple ... Notre Dame. May face other teams such as SW Missouri State,
UNC-Ch., UW-Green Bay, and Illinois State. Last season's schedule was
tougher but this one isn't bad.
Three opponents who beat IU at least once last year (MSU, Wisconsin, and
Minnesota), IU faces only once this year. But the Wisconsin and MSU games
are away from Bloomington.
Big Ten Club History:
IU has been swept two straight years by their bitter rivals, Purdue. I
believe that's unprecedented during Knight's reign in Bloomington. I'm sure
the Hoosier fans aren't all that happy about that.
But IU has many scores to settle this season. IU lost the single match-ups
against both Iowa and Illinois last year- as well as getting beaten twice
And both IU-OSU games last season were bizarre ... first an IU loss to a
rejuvenated OSU club and then a game a week later that would make Rod
Serling envious ...
3. (Tie) Wisconsin
Nutshell: Good defense and heart make up for a lot. If you don't believe
that, then explain how Wisconsin finished fourth in the Big Ten last
season. The revered coach Bennett loses Paul Grant but recruits four
role-players and a Top 50 recruit that strengthens the Badger's well-oiled
machine. With the easiest Big Ten schedule this season, Bennett's team is
a dark horse edging ever closer to that Big Ten trophy.
Strengths: Defense, defense, and defense. Wisconsin was first in the
conference in scoring defense, allowing only 56 points a game on average.
They were also first in Field Goal % Defense and 3-Pt. Field Goal %
Defense. They're also a well-coached club that makes few mistakes and they
know how to use a home-field advantage. If you'll recall, they upset
Minnesota in Madison at the closing of last year's Big Ten season. Bennett
also has 6 seniors by my count and three of them are probable starters
(Calderwood, Daughterty, and Coleman).
Last in the conference on Field Goal % Offense.
B. Lack of Guard Leadership
Point Guards seem a little weak as well. Wisconsin was last in assists
C. Physical Talent (in speed and size)
A lack of one-on-one quickness and size in their roster doesn't hurt
their defense but it does affect their offense. Wisconsin was middle-of-
the-road in rebounding, blocks, and steals as well.
Paul Grant Transfer (Boston College) Center
Mosezell Peterson Small Forward Transfer
Note: Transferred to Louisville.
Mark Vershaw Freshman Power Forward/ Center Recruited
Mike Kelley Freshman Point Guard Recruited
Andy Kowske Freshman Power Forward Recruited
Maurice Linton Freshman Wing Forward Recruited
Charlie Wills Freshman Wing Forward Recruited
Rated as the 56th best recruiting class in the nation, this group isn't
flashy but that doesn't mean they aren't good or useful.
Vershaw is a 6-8 PF/C who reminds me somewhat of Purdue's Brian Cardinal
(but less suicidal). He was rated #46 in the nation by both Ranker and
Gibbons. He averaged 22.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 4.1 apg in high school. He's an
aggressive inside banger who has the ability to block and defend taller
centers. He has a pretty good range as well. Vershaw is the jewel of
Kelley is a 6-3 point guard from Milwaukee who averaged 11.1 ppg and 6.1
apg. Though his stats aren't all that impressive, he comes from a very
successful High School career and he has a winning tradition. He may be
able to provide immediate impact to the team from the point guard
position, especially if he can dish out the assists like he did in high
Kowske is a 6-8 forward who was seen in some Top 100 lists. Also from
Wisconsin, he averaged 16.1 ppg and 8.3 rpg in high school.
Linton is a 6-8 forward from Illinois who averaged 15.5 ppg and 7.3 rpg
in high school. Linton has a Michigan player frame (thin but athletic)
while Kowske is more meaty like Purdue's Cardinal or Iowa's Settles.
Wills is a 6-8 forward from Indiana who averaged 17.1 ppg, 9.1 rpg,
and 3.1 bpg in high school. From the few times I saw him play, he seemed
to be offensively-minded (looks to score) and rebounds well. He may be
able to adequately defend most Big Ten small forwards. He's a good role
player for Wisconsin but I suspect his defense may need work.
Wisconsin got the cream of the crop in Big Ten schedules. Purdue, Iowa,
and Indiana are all expected to be in the top of the Big Ten this season.
Wisconsin has to play each of these teams only once and Wisconsin gets to
play Iowa and Indiana at home (Wisconsin plays away for Purdue and
Minnesota). If Wisconsin wins the games they're supposed to and wins two
of the games against Purdue/Iowa/IU, then it'll be difficult for anyone
to take Wisconsin out of the top three positions in the standings.
In pre-conference, Wisconsin has a respectable if conservative schedule -
playing Temple, Marquette, Ball State, and Fresno State. They also play
two unknown opponents in the Big Island Invitational.
Big Ten Club History:
Wisconsin has been stunning all the Big Ten teams when they play at
Madison. Wisconsin is getting as strong a home-court advantage as Purdue
does and IU had (until last season). Wisconsin swept Illinois last season
so the Illini will be looking to settle the score. And, surprisingly, the
defensive-minded Michigan State Spartans swept Wisconsin last year.
Perhaps Tom Izzo knows something about Bennett's game that the rest of the
teams could use ...
Nutshell: You're thinking ol' Rufus doesn't know what he's talking about,
don't you? Minnesota reaches the Final Four and I think the Golden Gophers
will barely make the upper division this season? I do when they lose three
starters and three other key players. See below for details on a summer
that really set the Minnesota program back on its heels.
Strengths: They went to the Final Four last year- so they've got a taste of
winning experience. Haskins is a decent, fundamentally sound coach and
Minnesota has a good home-court advantage. Second in scoring offense, third
in scoring defense, rebounding margin, FG% offense and FG% defense. First
in steals, assists, and turnover margin. Unfortunately, this season we're
talking about an entirely different team.
A. Loss of Personnel
B. Lack of Depth
C. Lack of Experience
Bobby Jackson Combo Guard
John Thomas Center
Trevor Winter Center
Mark Jones Shooting Guard
Aaron Stauber Forward
Courtney James Junior Power Forward Suspended
Note: Convicted of Assault charges.
Out for the fall season at least.
Charles Thomas Junior Shooting Guard Transfer
Note: Transferred to E. Kentucky.
Kevin Loge Red-shirt Fr. Center Transfer
Kevin Clark JUCO Jr. Combo Guard Recruited
Kevin Nathaniel Freshman Wing Guard Recruited
Antoine Broxsie Freshman Forward/Center Recruited
Dusty Rychart Walk-on Fr. Small For. Recruited
Kyle Sanden Freshman Forward/Center Red-shirted
Note: May not be medically cleared to
play this season.
Rated the 47th recruiting class in the nation, I don't see how this class
can immediately replace the loss of Bobby Jackson, Charles Thomas,
Courtney James, John Thomas, Kevin Loge, and Trevor Winter.
Kevin Clark is a 6-2 guard who can play point or off-guard. At his JUCO,
he averaged 23.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.7 apg, and 1.7 spg. He had 53.2% FG,
83.9 FT%, and 36.1 3FG%. Nice numbers, though the Big Ten isn't Junior
College. Regardless, Prep Stars rated Clark as the 11th best JUCO in the
Kevin Nathaniel is a Wing Guard who will probably back up Kevin Clark at
shooting guard. He averaged 28.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg, and 5.3 apg in high school.
Ignored by most scouts, he supposedly is a late bloomer. The latest Prep
Stars had him as #77 in the country. He supposedly has a 42 in. vertical
jump and he stands 6-4 tall.
Antoine Broxsie is a 6-10 220 lbs. Power Forward/Center who averaged
22.1 ppg and 13.5 rpg in high school. He's described by scouts as a
sleeper, somewhere in the Top 150 of the nation. Broxsie had decided to
attend Purdue while his mother had her heart set on Antoine attending
Nebraska. They compromised by choosing on Minnesota. Since his decision,
rumors have been flying around the Minnesota campus that Broxsie was
unhappy with his choice and may leave Minnesota for a JUCO program.
Broxsie has enrolled at Minnesota an now looks to be content.
Kyle Sanden is a 6-11 230 lbs. Power Forward/ Center who was red-shirted
last year at Minnesota. However, he has suffered a head injury of some
sort and may not be medically cleared to play for the Golden Gophers this
Dusty Rychart is a 6-6 205 lbs. walk-on small forward who averaged 28.2
ppg and 13.4 rpg in his Minnesota high school (a state high).
Minnesota only has to play Wisconsin, IU, Illinois, and OSU once each.
The Golden Gophers play Wisconsin at home but visit IU in Bloomington.
Minnesota has a grueling pre-conference schedule. Outside of the pre-
season NIT championship that they'll participate in, Minnesota faces
Cincinnati, Villanova, Alabama, Nebraska, and Fresno State.
Big Ten Club History:
Minnesota didn't have a good road record until two seasons ago. They seem
to have gotten that monkey off their back. Purdue and IU traditionally
have been problems for the Golden Gophers, particularly when Minnesota
plays them on their home court. Last year however, Minnesota cleaned
house with everybody (sweeping both IU and Purdue) and lost only two games
(tight games) against Wisconsin and Illinois.
6. (Tie) Michigan
Nutshell: If I were a Wolverine fan, I'd worry more about NCAA
investigations than I would about how well the basketball team does this
year. But I can't see how the Wolverines can do better than last year
(sixth place) without Maurice Taylor and Brandun Hughes. Especially since
so many Big Ten clubs (like IU) had stellar recruiting seasons and
Michigan's was hum-drum.
Strengths: First (tied with Minnesota) in scoring offense, and second in
FG% Offense (fourth in 3pt. FG%). Fourth in offensive rebounding (only
sixth in def. boards). Third in steals. Additionally, the players they do
have on the roster are pretty talented physically.
A. Lack of Depth
Outside of the starting five, there's only one player who isn't a walk-on
or a true freshman (Sophomore center Peter Vignier). To me, that's a
serious lack of depth. Even the anemic Purdue team will probably go nine
deep in most games (though small line-ups) and none of those players are
true freshmen. And, although I doubt anyone keeps stats on this, Michigan
has got to be first in the conference (or near the top) on number of fouls
committed during a season. Foul trouble and a lack of depth will spell
disaster for the Wolverines.
B. Lack of Discipline
There are lots of people who like Fisher. That's their right. But players
who continually get into foul trouble, commit technical fouls again and
again, call for time-outs when there aren't any in a championship game ...
well, their heads just aren't in the right place. I chalk that up to lack
of discipline. Blame the coach, blame the players- it doesn't much matter
to me. Neither course of action solves the problem- a problem that I fail
to see diminishing any over the past six seasons at Ann Arbor. Without
playing smart ball (game in and game out), a team will never win the Big
Michigan was seventh in scoring defense last season, eighth in FG%
defense, sixth in defensive rebounding, and fifth in blocking. With the
speed and talent of Bullock, Traylor, Ward, and Baston - I just don't
D. Guard Play
With Brandun Hughes leaving (or being asked to leave) the program, it's
up to Bullock and Conlan to do practically all the guard work for
Michigan. Michigan was ninth in the conference in assists last season -
showing me that Bullock and Conlan might need more help distributing the
ball than what Michigan has to work with.
E. NCAA Investigation
Some seem to feel that this investigation is over nothing. The Detroit
Press and the NCAA do not seem to share that opinion. And for right now,
neither do I. There are some serious allegations held against the Michigan
Basketball program and I haven't heard or seen anything out of Michigan
over the last 12 months to allay my (or the NCAA's) apprehensions.
Michigan has sent their internal report to the NCAA for examination. I
fully expect the NCAA to investigate further into this matter and
eventually hand out some penalties unless shocking, new evidence is
uncovered between then and now.
There is a black cloud over the Michigan program, violations or not. It's
hurt recruiting and Michigan personnel seem to be leaving in a Great
Exodus. One of the assistant coaches left last spring and the Michigan
AD is retiring from his position (though neither have stated to the press
that their leaving has anything at all to do with the NCAA investigation).
Both Taylor and Traylor seriously considered leaving early for the NBA
(Taylor did). One thing I do know for certain - this is not a good
One Assistant Coach
Maurice Taylor Senior Small Forward NBA
Brandun Hughes Senior JUCO Point Guard Left.
Note: Scholarship revoked.
Dionte Harvey Freshman Recruited
Note: Was dropped by Michigan as a result
of his criminal history.
Leon Jones Freshman Shooting Guard Recruited
Note: Did not academically qualify.
Brandon Smith Freshman Small Forward Recruited
Josh Asselin Freshman Center Recruited
Rated the 75th best recruiting class in the nation, this is far from
Michigan's best recruiting class of this decade. Or last decade, for that
Brandon Smith is a 6-6, 210 lbs. small forward who averaged 19.2 ppg, 8.8
rpg, and 5.1 apg in high school. Rated #64 in the nation by Francis, #98
by Prep Stars, and #69 by Gibbons. I saw him play once. He excels in the
fast break and in dunking. He slices well and he's a good rebounder and
leaper for 6-6. But from what I saw, I question his defensive skills
Josh Asselin is a 6-10, 230 lbs. Michigan native. Unknown in the national
standings, he was ranked 15th in the state of Michigan. He averaged
22.1 ppg, 11.5 rpg, and 3.8 bpg in high school.
Michigan lucks out (yet again) with a favorable Big Ten schedule. The two
top contenders for the Big Ten trophy (Iowa and Purdue) only face Michigan
once and the Wolverines face Purdue on their home territory.
Michigan plays Duke and UNLV in pre-conference, but plays powder-puffs
everywhere else. Still, those two games make up for a lot of Detroit-Mercy
Big Ten Club History:
Purdue, IU, Minnesota, and Wisconsin all seem to be taking advantage of
Michigan over the last few years. Northwestern, Penn State and Michigan
State were the only Big 10 teams that Michigan swept last season.
I've just been told (confirmed) that Michigan has a new recruit in junior
Robbie Reid. Reid was a former Brigham Young point guard (his father
coached there) and played two years there. Then he went overseas on a
mission. Now, he's transferred to Michigan, where he'll be able to play
both this season and next. He's 6-1 and 170 lbs. and he averaged 10.1 ppg
and 3.0 apg as a sophomore at BYU. Reid will help boost the Michigan
backcourt and replace the loss of Hughes, but I don't think it's enough
to warrant raising Michigan any in the standings.
6. (Tie) Michigan State
Nutshell: Sixth is how well MSU did last year. And if so many Big Ten
programs had not improved over the summer, be assured MSU would have been
ranked higher. But there's only so much room at the top. No matter how
many boards Antonio Smith gets ...
Strengths: Rebounding, defense, and talent- in a nutshell. MSU was first
in offensive rebounding and second in defensive rebounding last season
(thanks in large part to Antonio Smith). MSU is also fourth in scoring
defense and out-defended Bennett's Wisconsin team twice and swept the
Badgers last season. You don't do that unless you have a fundamental
understanding of defense. Their third strength is, unknown to many, that
coach Izzo has recruited some great talent into East Lansing the last
two seasons. The potential talent for a Big Ten trophy run is present.
All they need is a break.
The shooting talent is there- it just hasn't blossomed yet. Mateen
Cleaves, Jason Klein, Jason Webber, and A.J. Granger could all shoot the
ball in high school. But only one Spartan was in the conference's top 15
in shooting last season and that was senior Ray Weathers (10th) with
MSU was eighth in scoring offense and tenth in 3-pt. FG% offense last
season. They need some players who are able to put the ball through the
hoop.Another year of experience should help Smith, Cleaves and company
to become more effective, offensive threats. Plus, Izzo's incoming class
may help the Spartans increase their numbers on the scoreboard.
B. Youth (Inexperience)
MSU only has four upperclassman (though all four may be starters this
year). Having six sophomores and four freshman is not an insurmountable
obstacle to overcome in the Big Ten ... but this is sure to give Izzo
some headaches this fall.
See Schedule for details.
Ray Weathers Guard
Jon Garavaglia Power Forward/ Center
Steve Polonowski Power Forward
Mike Respert Guard
Anthony Mull Guard
Charlie Bell Freshman Shooting Guard Recruited.
Lorenzo Guess Freshman walk-on Combo Guard Recruited.
Doug Davis Freshman Combo Guard Recruited.
Andre Hutson ` Freshman Power Forward/Center Recruited.
Rated the 30th best recruiting class in the nation, maybe some people
will wake up to what's happening up in East Lansing. This is the third
good recruiting class MSU has had in a row.
Charlie Bell is a 6-3, 185 lbs. shooting guard who averaged 31.7 ppg,
8.2 rpg, and 5.5 apg in high school. He was #33 in the nation by Gibbons,
#61 by Prep Stars, and #39 by Francis.
Lorenzo Guess is the best walk-on basketball player I've seen up to now.
The only reason he's not on scholarship is because he's an even better
football player (a sport at MSU where he did get a scholarship). He can
play point guard or shooting guard and, although listed at 6-3, he looks
taller to me. Maybe because he's so thin, he looks taller. Naturally, he
won't be available to the team until his football commitment this fall is
over. Prep Stars had him listed at #99 and Clark Francis rated him at
#39 in the nation. Guess averaged 22.3 ppg, 6.1 apg, and 5.8 rpg in high
Doug Davis is a 6-3 combo guard who excels in the fast break. He's very
athletic. He can also hit the outside shot, another commodity desperately
needed by the Spartans. His defense needs work. Davis averaged 22.2 ppg,
4.3 apg, and 2.2 spg in high school. Coleman rated him as #52, as did
Andre Hutson is a 6-8, 205 lbs. Power Forward/Center who averaged 21.0
ppg, 11.2 rpg, and 2 bpg in high school. I haven't seen him play but
I'm told he also loves to pass. Coleman rated Hutson at #64 in the nation.
Hoop Scoop had him at #67 and Gibbons had him at #84.
Somebody in the Big Ten doesn't like MSU because they got the hardest Big
Ten schedule in the conference this year. MSU only plays Northwestern,
Ohio State, Penn State, and Indiana once each. That means that MSU has to
play Iowa, Purdue, Wisconsin, and Michigan twice each. Not too many easy
games for the Spartans. It will probably cost them.
MSU tries to make up for the hard Big Ten schedule by having a cushioned
pre-conference schedule. They only play 10 non-exhibition games in
pre-conference with their only tough opponent, Temple, cushioned in by
powder-puffs like Detroit-Mercy and South Florida.
Big Ten Club History:
Since Izzo has been there, it seems the Spartans lose the games they
should and wins the games they should- regardless of opponent. But their
were a few exceptions. MSU swept the 4th place Badgers last season and
they also beat 2nd place Iowa in their only match-up of the year. Let
me let you in on a little secret ... Iowa does not match up well
8. (Tie) Ohio State
Nutshell: I had not intended on rating the Buckeyes this low. For as bad
fortune befell other Big Ten programs, OSU rose among their ranks. But
late-breaking events at Columbus threaten to place the OSU team back where
it was last season- in the lower division. The team certainly has the
potential to do better. The only question is if this potential will be
realized. In light of recent events, I say the odds are against them.
Strengths: With two seniors and five juniors, the Buckeyes certainly have
the maturity to make a run in the Big Ten. With Stringer, Singleton,
Stonerook, and Tate- they certainly have the talent in the positions. They
were also second in the conference in assists (but being last in turnover
margin offsets that achievement). See UPDATE below for possible loss of
Sometimes change is good, sometimes change is bad. But change is always
disruptive. With a new head coach (Jim O'Brien from Boston College),
disruption is certain within a club that had a roller coaster ride of ups
and downs in the Big Ten last season. They beat Michigan, IU, and
Wisconsin last season- yet lose to Northwestern by 31 points. One can
only shake their head at such an occurrence and state that stability is
desperately needed in Columbus. If this change of head coaches does bring
stability (in a good way) to OSU, then this weakness could very well
become a strength.
B. Lack of Inside Presence
OSU was last in the conference in rebounding margin (last in offensive
rebounding and eighth in defensive rebounding). They were ninth in scoring
defense yet were second in the conference in defending the three point
shot. I translate that to mean that OSU lacked an inside presence last
season. With two new centers and (hopefully) a healthy Jermaine Tate
helping Stonerook out, OSU should do much better in this area this season
and thus there is room for some optimism. However, if the centers aren't
able to produce results, Buckeye fans should expect more of the same from
last season. Which, if one recalls, was not fifth place in the Big Ten
C. Injury/ Absences
According to my information, Jermaine Tate is still a question as to
whether he'll be medically cleared to play basketball this season (if
ever). I believe Tate's absence will be a major blow to this year's OSU
team and that without him, OSU might slip back a bit from where I
predicted OSU to be. Also bear in mind that OSU center John Lumpkin
probably won't be available to the team until January (he's also a
See UPDATE for further information on absences.
Don Jantonio Shooting Guard
Randy Ayers Head Coach
Ed Jenkins JUCO Sr. Center
Note: He was a Prop 48 last season, and left
this summer for greener pastures. He never played
a game for OSU.
Jim O'Brien Head Coach from Boston College
Michael Redd Freshman Shooting Guard Recruited.
Jon Sanderson Freshman Forward Recruited
Shamar Herron Freshman Center Recruited
Ken Johnson Sophomore Center Prop 48 last year
James "Scoonie" Penn Junior Point Guard Transfer
Note: Transferred from Boston College. Must
sit out this season.
Ken Johnson is a 6-11, 230 lb. center who, according to my OSU sources,
are their main hope for developing an inside presence. Expect Johnson to
be more of a blocking and rebounding presence than as a scorer. But,
really, that would be all OSU would really need of him with Stringer and
Shamar Herron is a 6-9, 240 lbs. center from Detroit who is another
possible answer for OSU's inside problem. Herron averaged 10.3 ppg, 13.0
rpg, 5.5 apg, and 4.0 bpg in high school.
Michael Redd is a 6-4 shooting guard from Columbus. He was rated
nationally at #99 by Clark Francis, #91 by Prep Stars and #96 by Gibbons.
He averaged 26.0 ppg, 9.4 rpg, and 3.4 spg in high school.
Jon Sanderson is a 6-7, 217 lbs. forward who may be sorely needed if
Jermaine Tate becomes unavailable. Sanderson averaged 17.5 ppg, 11.5 rpg,
and 3.0 apg at his high school in Lexington, OH. See UPDATE for more
information on Sanderson.
James "Scoonie" Penn is a 5-10 Jr. Point Guard with two years of
eligibility remaining after he transferred to join his former head coach
at Boston College. Last season at BC, Penn had 13.3 ppg and .402 FG. His
first year in college, he was Big East Freshman of the Year. He was the
Big East Tournament POTY his sophomore season.
I don't have their pre-conference schedule so I can't comment on it.
The Buckeyes' Big Ten schedule doesn't favor them, though. They play
Minnesota, Northwestern, Illinois, and Michigan State only once- meaning
they have to play the Big Ten favorites (Purdue, Iowa, Indiana, and
Wisconsin) twice each. Not the best situation to be in.
Big Ten Club History:
Lately, the OSU club has been a head-shaker. Slaughtered by Northwestern
last season, they still beat IU, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois. It
all seems to depend on which OSU team shows up to play.
Bad news befell the OSU BB squad after this write-up was made. On August
22nd, two OSU basketball players, lead scoring guard (and team captain)
Damon Stringer and guard Trent Jackson, were arrested and charged with
disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. The Ohio State University
athletic department is now investigating the incident. OSU Head Coach
O'Brien was on vacation and was unavailable for comment. However, since
he has stressed a need to clean up OSU's program since being hired- it
seems likely that Stringer and Jackson will be penalized if found guilty
of the charges. And perhaps their scholarships will be revoked.
In similar but unrelated news, OSU forward recruit Jon Sanderson was
arrested August 25th in Dayton for public intoxication, underage drinking,
and assaulting a police officer. His scholarship may be in jeopardy now as
The loss of these three players would set the OSU program back
considerably (as far as the Win-Loss column goes for this season ...).
The loss of Stringer would result in a lack of experienced leadership for
the Buckeyes. The loss of Sanderson (coupled with the loss of injured
Jermaine Tate) would deplete OSU's frontcourt. Put together, the situation
looks bad for the OSU program this season. I previously had OSU rated as
fifth in the standings. I now have them tied for eighth.
8. (Tie) Illinois
Nutshell: I know ... you think I'm out of my mind. How does a team who
finished 4th in the Big Ten last year and brings in one of the top five
recruiting classes in the country get to be ranked so low? Answer: Players
graduate and recruits don't academically qualify. Combine those two
ingredients and you have one ugly story in the making.
Strengths: Second in free throw percentage and third in 3 pt. FG% offense.
They were also second in turnover margin (thanks in large part to Kiwane
Garris, who has since graduated). Kruger also did better in his first
season as Illini coach than I expected.
A. Loss of Personnel/ Lack of Depth
Tenth in offensive rebounding and ninth in defensive rebounding. Like OSU,
Illinois lacked an inside presence last season. The Illini made up for it
by shooting the hell out of the three (3rd in 3-pt FG% offense), making
138 three's in Big Ten play (they attempted a nightmarish 365 shots, 72
more shots than any other Big Ten team attempted last season). But when
you live by the three, you die by the three. Thus, the Illini need an
inside presence. Unlike OSU, I don't think the Illini got it this year.
They were eighth in scoring defense, ninth in defending the three point
shot and last in field goal % on defense. Their press defense was nowhere
near as effective as Iowa's, Minnesota's or MSU's last season. However,
I will testify that Illinois' press was more effective than Purdue's last
season, if that makes anybody feel better ...
Kiwane Garris Point Guard
Chris Gandy Power Forward/Center
Herb Caldwell Power Forward
Bryant Notree Jr.? Wing Forward Transfer
Note: Transferred to Univ. Illinois-Chicago.
Marcus Griffin Fr. Blue Chip Center Recruited
Note: Academically ineligible. Reportedly
enrolled at Lincoln JUCO.
Leighton Nash Jr. JUCO Power Forward Recruited
Note: Academically ineligible. Will play for
Carvell Ammons Jr.? Power Forward Transfer
Note: Transferred in from Northwestern.
He will be a walk-on next season but cannot
play ball this season.
Corey Bradford Fr. Point Guard Recruited
Note: Partial Qualifier...can practice with
the team, but cannot play his first year.
Arias Davis Jr. JUCO Shooting Guard Recruited
Sergio McClain Fr. Wing Guard Recruited
Rich Beyers Fr. Wing Forward Recruited
Awvee Storey Jr. Small Forward Recruited
Rated 4th in the nation, that rating was because reviewers believed that
Griffin and Nash would both qualify. According to my sources, neither of
them will probably even attend Ilinois.
McClain, Davis and Beyers aren't bad recruits, though.
Arias Davis is a JUCO junior shooting guard, is 6-3 and 180 lbs, and is from
Othero JUCO in Georgia. He is a 3-pt. specialist, averaging 19.2 ppg and 5.1
rpg. He was Honorable Mention JUCO All-American.
Corey Bradford is a 6-3, 170 lbs. Point Guard who averaged 22.6 ppg and 7.4
rpg in high school. He is a partial academic qualifier. He is able to
practice but not play for the team this season.
Sergio McClain is a 6-4 225 lbs. Small Forward. He was Mr. Illinois BB
and is the only Illinois player in history to start on 4 state
championship BB teams. He has a 3.7 GPA and averaged 17.9 ppg, 8 rpg,
and 5.9 apg in high school. Prep Stars rated him at #68, Matt Ranker
and Sporting News had him at #19, and Gibbons had him at #34.
Rich Beyers is a 6-8 225 lbs. power forward who averaged 17.9 ppg, 10.2
rpg, and 5 apg in high school. His team was the 1996 Class A Champions
Carvell Ammons is a good power forward and will make a great walk-on,
but he can't play for Illinois this season.
Illinois got a tough break in Big Ten scheduling. They play OSU, Penn
State, Michigan, and Minnesota only once each. So Illinois plays all the
top contenders (the tougher teams) twice each. It's an ugly schedule.
It doesn't get any easier for Illinois in pre-conference as they battle
UCLA, Clemson, Texas, St. Louis, and Missouri. They also play 3 unknown
opponents in the Puerto Rico Classic.
Big Ten Club History:
Illinois was swept by Wisconsin and Purdue last season (mostly due to
lack of defense) but swept Penn State, Michigan State, and Ohio State
(mostly due to great outside shooting). I think it's going to be a tough
season for Illinois ...
I've been told (confirmed) that an Awvee Storey will be joining
the Illini. He's a 6-5 small forward out of prep school, where he
averaged 30 ppg and 15 rpg. He verballed to Tennessee but was released
from his committment when Head Coach Kevin O'Neill left for NW. He played
HS ball at Proviso West in Illinois- where he averaged 15 ppg and 10 rpg
as a senior.
However, none of these recent events lead me to believe that Illinois'
position has been strengthened enough to warrant a rising in the
10. Penn State
Nutshell: Penn State was ranked this low three seasons ago with Dan Earl
and Pete Licisky in the backcourt and the Nittany Lions made a run for
the Big Ten Championship (they ended up tied for second with IU, as I
recall). Penn State has the "potential" to do it again. However,with the
improvement of so many Big Ten programs and the "potential" of other
clubs such as Ohio State and Michigan State- I think Penn State will find
the upper division of the conference doesn't have any room for them. Even
if they DO have a new arena and the No. 1 football team in the country.
Strengths: They were first in the conference in blocks (the only
statistical category they DID do any good in). With Dan Earl back, their
leadership should improve dramatically (if he's healthy). Um ... they
have a new arena. Um ... their football team is really good. Um ... I'll
Weaknesses: The team last season was terrible. It's possible it was just
a team chemistry problem and a lack of leadership. If that's all it was
then the senior leadership of Licisky and Earl in the backcourt should
rejuvenate them. If that wasn't the problem ... well, I'm not holding
out too much hope for them then. The Big Ten is tough this year.
Phil Williams Power Forward
Jeremy Metzger Center
Bryan Machamer Forward
Rashaan Carlton Power Forward
Dana Fritz Point Guard
Aaron Jack Forward Transfer to Texas A&M
Dan Earl Sr. Point Guard Injured last year
Greg Grays Fr. Shooting Guard Recruited
Scott Witkowski Fr. Center Recruited
Gyasi Cline-Heard Fr. Power Forward Recruited
Joe Crispin Fr. Point Guard Recruited
Ranked 91st in the nation. I'm still unsure if Crispin and Cline-Heard
are really recruits for Penn State. I question some of the info I got on
them. Greg Grays is a 6-0, 180 lbs. shooting guard from Detroit. Described
as a project, he had 33.1 ppg and 5.9 rpg in high school. Street & Smith
had him labeled as an Honorable Mention All-American.
Scott Witkowski is a 7-0, 255 lbs. center from Colorado. Also described
as a project, he averaged 16.2 ppg, 15.1 rpg, and 4.1 bpg in high school.
Street & Smith had him listed as a High Honorable Mention All-American.
Gyasi Cline-Heard is a 6-7 power forward who averaged 26.4 ppg, 18.3 rpg,
and 4.1 bpg. Those stats were unable to be verified and I highly question
the rebounding stat.
Joe Crispin is a 5-11 point guard who supposedly had 32.2 ppg and 6.1 apg
in high school. A pity no scout/recruiter I've seen seems to have heard
of him ...
They only have 10 non-exhibition, non-conference games. Their toughest
opponent is North Carolina State. The rest of their schedule is against
powerhouses like Monmouth and Lehigh ... not a very strong schedule at
The Nittany Lions have one of the easier Big Ten schedules- facing MSU,
IU, Illinois, and Iowa only once each. The second half of the Big Ten
schedule is far easier on Penn State than the first half.
Big Ten Club History:
To my knowledge, Penn State is having problems against everybody but
Nutshell: A team that was the basement of the Big Ten last season loses
key players as well as a head coach. It doesn't take a genius to figure
out this is going to be a "rebuilding" year.
Strengths: Evan Eschmeyer and the fact that Northwestern has to play no
Big Ten team more than twice this season (outside the tournament, that
is). No one expects a whole lot from NW this season.
Weaknesses: They only have one Evan Eschmeyer.
Jevon Johnson Wing Guard
Ricky Byrdsong Head Coach
Carvell Ammons Power Forward Transfer to Illinois.
Geno Carlisle Shooting Guard Transfer to Pepperdine.
Kevin O'Neill Head Coach From Tennessee
Sean Wink Freshman Guard Recruited
Terrence Avery Freshman Center Recruited
Jonah Batambuze Freshman Guard Recruited
Not ranked in top 126 of the nation.
Sean Wink is a 6-4 guard from California who averaged 22.4 ppg in high
Terrence Avery is a 6-9 225 lbs. center from Illinois who averaged 16.1
ppg and 7.1 rpg in high school.
Jonah Batambuze is a 5-10 175 lbs. guard from Bloomington, Illinois who
averaged 14.3 ppg and 5.5 apg in high school.
I don't have their pre-conference schedule so I can't comment on it.
Their Big Ten schedule is middle-of-the-road, having to face Purdue,
Michigan, OSU, and MSU only once each. The first half of the schedule is
messy for NW, particularly between Jan. 14th and 24th. That's when NW
plays IU, at Wisconsin, at Penn State, and at Purdue. Now that's ten
days I wouldn't wish on anybody ...
Big Ten Club History:
Northwestern doesn't have a great record against anybody in the Big Ten
... at least not in the last fifteen years or so.