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OldGoldFreePress COLUMNISTS | BACK TO Guest_Columnist'S COLUMNS

PURDUE MENS BASKETBALL:
Big Ten Pre-Conference Schedule Analysis




Date: 10/29/97
Author: Rufus Talladega
Rufus Talladega

    Big Ten Pre-Conference Schedule Analysis
    
    I thought some of you might be interested in how the Big Ten scheduled 
    themselves this year. Who's playing the tough teams? Who's playing the
    powder-puffs? Or, more basically, who are the Big Ten teams playing?
    
    This article is broken into three sections. The first gives a general out-
    look for the schedule strength of each Big Ten team, followed by a brief 
    commentary.
    
    The second section lists the number of opponents (by conference) the Big
    Ten will face in pre-conference.
    
    The last section lists all the opponents (and possible opponents) for each
    Big Ten team.
    
    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
    General Outlook:
    
    1. Purdue
    2. Indiana
    3. Wisconsin
    4. Illinois
    5. Minnesota
    6. Ohio State
    7. Michigan
    8. Penn State
    9. Northwestern
    10. Iowa
    11. Michigan State
    
    Purdue has one of the toughest pre-conference schedules in the nation, but
    if they're a Top 10 team like all the magazines say, then they should be
    able to handle it. There are certain match-ups against Top 25ish teams 
    like Kentucky, Xavier (OH), and Louisville. Possible match-ups with North
    Carolina, UCLA and UMass could also happen. Add in conference-leading 
    opponents like UAB (USA), Valparaiso (Mid-Continent), and Long Island 
    Northeast) and you've got one tough schedule. Also consider that all of 
    Purdue's match-ups with Top 25 teams are either on neutral courts or away. No 
    Mackey Magic on Top 25 teams until Big Ten play ...
    
    Indiana's schedule is a steady staple of challenging yet not overpowering
    foes. Kentucky heads the list of Indiana's challenges, followed by possible
    match-ups with UNC-Charlotte and Illinois State. Add match-ups with Temple,
    Hawaii, UAB, SW Missouri State, and San Francisco and you have a steady
    stream of competent teams to play against.
    
    Wisconsin's schedule is both strong and weak. It's spotty. Wisconsin has
    certain match-ups with Top 25ish clubs like Fresno State, Illinois State,
    and Temple. There's a possibility they'll also play Stanford and Oklahoma.
    But after that, there's a big drop-off in competition with teams like
    Marquette, Pacific, and Toledo. And it doesn't get any stronger after that.
    Wisconsin boasts home advantage for Illinois State, Temple, Marquette,
    and Toledo.
    
    Illinois certainly has their work cut out for them. Illinois, expected by
    most to finish in the bottom half of the Big Ten, face Top 25ish foes UCLA,
    Clemson and Texas. Also consider that Illinois will probably have their
    hands full with opponents like Missouri, Dayton, and Bradley. Add it up
    and it doesn't look like a pretty W-L record unless Illinois really out-
    performs most people's expectations. At least Illinois faces Texas and 
    Bradley at home.
    
    Minnesota also faces an uphill battle in pre-conference play. They leave
    their roller coaster ride of last summer only to tumble into competition
    against Top 25ish teams like Fresno State and Cincinnati. Villanova, Eastern
    Michigan, and Nebraska (not powerhouses but not slouches either) also
    can be found on their schedule. Add to that the Pre-NIT Tournament, where
    Minnesota could face plenty of talented teams if they win their 1st round
    against Utah State and advance. Because there are so many possible 
    opponents in the NIT, those teams have not been factored into Minnesota's 
    schedule strength.
    
    Ohio State gets the "chip on the shoulder" scheduling award. The Buckeyes
    certainly aren't scheduling like they're on the bottom of the Big Ten. 
    with guaranteed games against Kansas, Vanderbilt, SW Louisiana, USC, and 
    Toledo, OSU has their work cut out for them. Add to that possible match-ups
    with Hawaii, Virginia, Nebraska, Vanderbilt (again), and/or New Mexico 
    State, and it's pretty certain OSU will be cutting their teeth on a chainsaw
    in pre-conference play.
    
    Michigan plays Duke in Ann Arbor, hands-down their toughest opponent in 
    pre-conference play. Then Michigan plays a few teams close to their own 
    predicted level, playing the WAC's UNLV and the MAC's Eastern Michigan. If
    Michigan does well in tournament play, they might also face some decent 
    challenges in TCU, Syracuse, Iowa State and/or Arkansas. After that, the 
    well runs dry as Michigan faces opponents they should easily overpower ...
    from the top of the spectrum with Bradley (Missouri Valley) to the bottom
    with Towson State (America East).
    
    Penn State, also on the bottom of the Big Ten prediction tables, took a 
    more conservative approach than Ohio State did. Playing only 10 pre-conference
    games, the Nittany Lion's biggest challenge will either be the SEC's
    Mississippi State or the A-10's St. Joseph's, followed by the ACC's North
    Carolina State. UTEP, Loyola (Md.), and Bucknell are three other opponents
    ranked around Penn State's neighborhood. The games get easier for Penn
    State after that.
    
    Northwestern, the predicted basement of the Big Ten, faces their toughest
    challenges in the form of Dayton, Seton Hall, and Boston College (which,
    granted, are ranked well above NW's place in the universe). Add another 
    foe in DePaul from the USA conference, and NW spends the rest of their 
    schedule beating up on the dregs of conferences like the Southern (with 
    Wofford) and the Mid-Continent (with Chicago State).
    
    Iowa is in the nation's Top 25 (somewhere, according to most) but yet they
    are not scheduled to play any Top 25 teams. Granted, if things go well 
    in tournament play Iowa MAY play St. John's or Louisville and those are at
    least Top 25ish teams if not Top 25 teams. But those match-ups aren't 
    certain. The toughest certain match-ups are against Iowa State, Missouri 
    and Long Island (and to Iowa's credit, two of those match-ups are away games).
    But the rest of Iowa's schedule is against struggling programs such 
    as Rice, North Texas, Drake, and Chicago State. If Iowa's young backcourt
    gets up to speed (which may be the concern that prompted Coach Davis to 
    schedule this way), Iowa should have no trouble going into Big Ten play 
    undefeated and have his young players filled with confidence in their 
    abilities. But this is not a tough schedule by any stretch of the imagination.
    
    Michigan State outdoes the whole conference in taking it easy. They play
    one tough opponent, the A-10's Temple, and then play only nine other games.
    And all nine of those opponents are FAR below Michigan State's level of
    play. If Izzo's goal (like he said) is for MSU to make it to the Big Dance
    this year - they'll have to get there with their W-L record. Because thier
    strength of schedule rating is going to stink ...
    
    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
    Opponents by Conference
    
    ACC			3 to 6
    Atlantic 10 		5 to 8
    Big East		5 to 8
    Big 12			6 to 9
    Conf. USA		10 to 14
    PAC-10			2 to 5
    SEC			4 to 8
    WAC			6 to 11
    
    America East		2 to 3
    Big Sky			2 to 5
    Big South		None
    Big West		3 to 4
    Colonial		1
    Ivy League		0 to 1
    MEAC			3
    Metro Atlantic		3
    MAC			8 to 9
    Mid-Continent		3 to 4
    Midwestern Collegiate 	8 to 9
    Missouri Valley		7 to 10
    Northeast		4 to 5
    Ohio Valley		2 to 3
    Patriot League		3
    Southern		7
    Southland		1 to 2
    Sun Belt		2 to 5
    SWAC			0 to 1
    Trans America		4
    West Coast		2 to 4
    
    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
    Look by Team (in alphabetical order):
    
    Note: * means there is only a possibility that these teams will play each
    other.
    
    Team: Illinois
    
    Projected Placement in Big Ten: Lower Half
    
    Underdog:
    
    UCLA			PAC-10
    Clemson			ACC
    Texas			Big 12
    
    Evenly Matched (or thereabouts):
    
    Missouri		Big 12
    * Dayton		A-10
    Bradley			Missouri Valley
    
    Challenged:
    
    * Evansville		Missouri Valley
    St. Louis		USA
    * Penn			Ivy
    
    Cake-walk:
    
    Illinois-Chicago	Midwestern Collegiate
    * Rice			WAC
    * South Florida		USA
    * Washington St.	PAC-10
    Maine			America East
    Texas- Pan America	Sun Belt
    
    Note: Illinois will only play 3 of the 6 teams with an asterisk.
    
    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
    Team: Indiana
    
    Projected Placement in Big Ten: Top 3
    
    Underdog:
    
    Kentucky		SEC
    
    Evenly Matched (or thereabouts):
    
    * UNC-Charlotte		USA
    Temple			A-10
    * Illinois State	Missouri Valley
    
    Challenged:
    
    Hawaii			WAC
    SW Missouri State	Missouri Valley
    UAB			USA
    San Francisco		West Coast
    * South Alabama		Sun Belt
    
    Cake-walk:
    
    Evansville		Miss. Valley
    Notre Dame		Big East
    * Western Michigan	MAC
    UW- Grn. Bay		Midwest Collegiate
    * NE Louisiana		Southland
    * Alcorn State		SWAC
    
    Note: Indiana will only play 3 of the 6 with an asterisk.
    
    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
    Team: Iowa
    
    Projected Placement in Big Ten: Top 3
    
    Underdog:
    
    None
    
    Evenly Matched (or thereabouts):
    
    * St. John's		Big East
    * Louisville		USA
    
    Challenged:
    
    * Georgia Tech		ACC
    Iowa St.		Big 12
    Missouri		Big 12
    Long Island		Northeast
    * Alabama		SEC
    
    Cake-walk:
    
    * Wichita St.		Miss. Valley
    Rice			WAC
    Bucknell		Patriot
    * Hofstra		America East
    Weber St.		Big Sky
    St. Mary's		Northeast
    North Texas		Big West
    Drake			Missouri Valley
    Chicago State		Mid-Continent
    
    Note: Iowa will only play 3 of the 6 with an asterisk.
    
    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
    Team: Michigan
    
    Projected Placement in Big Ten: Top 3 to Middle of Conference (Wide variety)
    
    Underdog:
    
    Duke			ACC
    
    Evenly Matched (or thereabouts):
    
    UNLV			WAC
    * TCU			WAC
    * Syracuse		Big East
    Eastern Michigan	MAC
    * Iowa State		Big 12
    * Arkansas		SEC
    
    Challenged:
    
    None
    
    Cake-walk:
    
    Bradley			Missouri Valley
    * Murray State		Ohio Valley
    Detroit			Midwest Collegiate
    * St. Louis		USA
    Western Michigan	WAC
    Florida International	Trans America
    Tenn.-Chatt.		Southern
    Cleveland St.		Midwest Collegiate
    Towson St.		America East
    
    Note: Michigan will only play 3 of the 6 teams with an asterisk.
    
    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
    Team: Michigan State
    
    Projected Placement in Big Ten: Middle of Conference
    
    Underdog:
    
    Temple		A-10
    
    Evenly Matched (or thereabouts):
    
    None
    
    Challenged:
    
    None
    
    Cake-walk:
    
    Detroit			Midwestern Collegiate
    * Gonzaga		West Coast
    South Florida		USA
    Ill.-Chicago		Midwestern Collegiate
    * Ark.-Lit'l Rock	Sun Belt
    Wright State		Midwestern Collegiate
    Cleveland State		Midwestern Collegiate
    E. Illinois		Ohio Valley
    Central Michigan	MAC
    E. Tenn. St.		Southern
    
    Note: Michigan State will only play one of the two teams with an asterisk.
    
    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
    Team:  Minnesota
    
    Projected Placement in Big Ten: Upper Half
    
    Underdog:
    
    Fresno State		WAC
    Cincinnati		USA
    
    Evenly Matched (or thereabouts):
    
    Villanova		Big East
    Eastern Michigan	MAC
    Nebraska		Big 12
    
    Challenged:
    
    Alabama			SEC
    
    Cake-walk:
    
    Utah State		Big West
    West Carolina		Southern
    Campbell		Trans America
    Florida Atlantic	Trans America
    Sacramento St.		Big Sky
    
    Note: Minnesota is one of the teams in the Pre-NIT. If Minnesota beats Utah
    State (1st Round, NIT), Minnesota could face up to three more opponents
    not listed above (as long as Minnesota keeps winning). There are too many
    of these NIT teams to list in this section.
    
    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
    Team: Northwestern
    
    Projected Placement in Big Ten: Last Place
    
    Underdog:
    
    Dayton			A-10
    Seton Hall		Big East
    Boston College		Big East
    
    Evenly Matched (or thereabouts):
    
    DePaul			USA
    
    Challenged:
    
    None
    
    Cake-walk:
    
    Siena			Metro Atlantic
    Troy State		Trans America
    Maryland-East. Shore	MEAC
    Sam Houston		Southland
    Wofford			Southern
    Chicago State		Mid-Continent
    
    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
    Team:  Ohio State
    
    Projected Placement in Big Ten: Bottom 3
    
    Underdog:
    
    Kansas			Big 12
    * Hawaii		WAC
    * Virginia		ACC
    * Nebraska		Big 12
    Vanderbilt		SEC
    * Vanderbilt		SEC (OSU has an opportunity to play this team twice)
    SW Louisiana		Sun Belt
    * New Mexico State	Big West
    USC			PAC-10
    Toledo			MAC
    
    Evenly Matched (or thereabouts):
    
    South Florida		USA
    Cal. State- Northridge	Big Sky
    Rider			Metro Atlantic
    
    Challenged:
    
    Tenn.-Chatt.		Southern
    Kent			MAC
    
    Cake-walk:
    
    * BYU			WAC
    Robert Morris		Northeast
    
    Note: Ohio State will only play 2 of the 6 teams with an asterisk.
    
    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
    Team: Penn State
    
    Projected Placement in Big Ten: Bottom 3
    
    Underdog:
    
    * Mississippi State	SEC
    * St. Joseph's		A-10
    North Carolina State	ACC
    
    Evenly Matched (or thereabouts):
    
    UTEP			WAC
    Loyola, Md.		Metro Atlantic
    Bucknell		Patriot
    
    Challenged:
    
    Virginia Military Inst.	Southern
    George Mason		Colonial
    
    Cake-walk:
    
    Monmouth		Northeast
    BYU			WAC
    Lehigh			Patriot
    
    Note: Penn State will only play one of the two teams with an asterisk.
    
    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
    Team: Purdue
    
    Projected Placement in Big Ten: Top 2
    
    Underdog:
    
    * North Carolina	ACC
    * UCLA			PAC-10
    
    Evenly Matched (or thereabouts):
    
    Kentucky		SEC
    Xavier, OH		A-10
    Louisville		USA
    * UMass			A-10
    
    Challenged:
    
    UAB			USA
    * San Francisco		West Coast
    * SW Louisiana		Sun Belt
    Long Island		Northeast
    Valparaiso		Mid-Continent
    Providence		Big East
    
    Cake-walk:
    
    * Seton Hall		Big East
    Houston			USA
    NE Louisiana		Southland
    Tenn-Martin		Ohio Valley
    Florida A&M		MEAC
    * Idaho State		Big Sky
    
    Note: Purdue will only play 3 of the 7 teams marked with an asterisk.
    
    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
    Team: Wisconsin
    
    Projected Placement in Big Ten: Upper Half
    
    Underdog:
    
    Fresno State		WAC
    * Oklahoma		Big 12
    Illinois State		Missouri Valley
    Temple			A-10
    * Stanford		PAC-10
    
    Evenly Matched (or thereabouts):
    
    None
    
    Challenged:
    
    Marquette		USA
    Pacific			Big West
    * Valparaiso		Mid-Continent
    * Butler		Midwest Collegiate
    Toledo			MAC
    
    Cake-walk:
    
    Pepperdine		West Coast
    Coppin State		MEAC
    Ball State		MAC
    * Montana		Big Sky
    
    Note: Wisconsin will only play 2 of the 5 teams with an asterisk.
    
    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
    
    If you have questions or comments, you know where to send them.
    
    Later,
    
    Rufus Talladega
    

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