Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Michigan State
  2. Purdue
  3. Ohio State
  4. Wisconsin
  5. Illinois
  6. Minnesota
  7. Northwestern
  8. Indiana
  9. Penn State
  10. Michigan
  11. Iowa
The Big Ten looks loaded this year. A quick look at the all-conference teams below shows that this is a very experienced conference (eight seniors and a junior on my all-conference squads), and with a 09-10 Final Four team (Michigan State) and a team that was a key injury away from being a Final Four contender (Purdue) returns almost all of their key contributors, clearly the top of the heap here is very talented. Given those two squad’s past success and key returnees, they are the co-favorites in the league with the Spartans getting a bit of a nod due to slightly fewer question marks.

However, the next tier of teams, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Illinois, will likely be right on the heels of the leaders all season long. Ohio State and Illinois both feature intriguing mixes of returning experience and incoming talent, while Wisconsin is Wisconsin and you can pencil them in for about 12 conference wins and 25 wins on the season today.

Those top two tiers in the league are the teams that should be fairly comfortable on Selection Sunday with their lot; the next tier (Minnesota and Northwestern) is made up of teams who could be a little nervous that day. An early guess? Both teams get in.

And then there’s the bottom tier, teams that are either rebuilding or should be rebuilding. Penn State and Indiana both have some players that could carry their teams at times, but lack the overall roster to compete for an upper-division finish in such a talented league. Michigan could finish higher just on the strength of John Bielein and his system, but Iowa, poor Iowa and new head coach Fran McCaffrey, could have a rough season with a remade roster and a program starting all over from scratch.

All-Big Ten First Team
G Kalin Lucas, Sr, Michigan State
G Talor Battle, Sr, Penn State
F Mike Davis, Sr, Illinois
F Jon Leuer, Sr, Wisconsin
C Jared Sullinger, Fr, Ohio State

All-Big Ten Second Team
G E’Twaun Moore, Sr, Purdue
G William Buford, Jr, Ohio State
F Robbie Hummel, Sr, Purdue
F Kevin Coble, Sr, Northwestern
C JaJuan Johnson, Sr, Purdue

All-Freshman Team
G Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan
G Roy Marble Jr., Iowa
F Jereme Richmond, Illinois
F DeShaun Thomas, Ohio State
C Jared Sullinger, Ohio State

After a year in basketball purgatory, the Hoosiers started the long trek back up the Big Ten standings. Sure, 4-14 in conference is not going to remind anybody of the glory days of Bob Knight, or even Mike Davis, but there was definite improvement over the 08-09 iteration of the IU squad. Nevertheless, while head coach Tom Crean was given a pass in his first year due to the necessary complete reconstruction of the program, those Indiana fans aren’t used to losing and won’t remain patient long, as this year proved.

The 10-11 version of the Hoosiers will not look a whole lot different than last year’s, but hopefully shooting guard Maurice Creek will fully recover from the knee injury that robbed him of the final 19 games of his freshman season, after having led IU in scoring through the first 12 games. Creek is a high-percentage scorer, a guy that can drop 31 on Kentucky as he did as a freshman while still shooting high percentages from all over (53% from the field, 45% from 3-pt and 76% from the line – a number which will likely improve over his career) and assuming a full recovery will again be the go-to scorer for the Hoosiers. Alongside him in Crean’s three-guard lineup will likely be senior Jeremiah Rivers and junior Verdell Jones. After Creek’s injury, Jones was as close to a clutch performer as Indiana had and was a capable scorer, despite shooting significantly lower percentages than Creek. Rivers, a transfer from Georgetown, was a bit of a disappointment for Crean’s squad. He has all the tools you look for in a big guard his size – athletic, good quickness, finishing ability, a nice jumper, good on-ball defense, penetration, passing – but has never been able to put all of those tools together to form a complete game; there is just no excuse for Rivers averaging just six point per game in over 28 minutes of playing time. Depth in the backcourt will come from sophomore point Jordan Hulls, incoming freshman Victor Oladipo, junior sharp-shooter Matt Roth and junior scrapper Daniel Moore.

Up front, Christian Watford started every game in his freshman season with the Hoosiers and will be a vital cog in the Hoosiers’ 10-11 plans. He is a bit undersized at the four, but moves well, can play out of the post, blocks some shots and is the best rebounder on the team. Junior Tom Pritchard will likely start alongside Watford up front, and he is a capable is unspectacular post-man. Ideally for Crean, either Derek Elston, Bobby Capobianco or Bawa Muniru would step up and claim, or at least challenge for, that fifth starting spot. None of the those three showed any type of consistent offensive games in their freshman seasons, but Elston and Capobianco may turn out to be better rebounders than Pritchard. Muniru, on the other hand, is an athletic freak, but is so raw that is may be another year, or even two, before the guy sees any type of significant minutes. Will Sheehey is a 6-6 incoming freshman who may get a chance to spell Watford a bit as an undersized four.

 Best case scenario in Bloomington next season is Creek getting back to form early in the season, Rivers putting his considerable talents together for his senior season, Watford bulking up a bit and the front-line depth taking a step forward, allowing the Hoosiers to creep toward .500 in conference play. Them actually getting there in 10-11 still seems unlikely, however.