College basketball analyst and writer
College basketball announcer and reporter
the Big ten He hasn’t had a Final Four team since Michigan State You’ve reached 2019. To find a national champion, you have to go back even further – all the way back to 2000, when Tom Izzo’s Spartans cut the net.
However, as we continue our march towards the NCAA Tournament, it is once again becoming clear that the conference is full of top talent and stacked deep with potential Big Dance contenders.
Is this the year things change? Can the Big Ten compete on the national stage?
We break it all down.
According to our site Latest arc predictions from Mike Decoursey, the Big Ten is on track to have nine bids to the NCAA Tournament, more than any other conference. Why so much respect for the league?
John Fanta: The Big Ten posted a collegiate record of 115-37 in non-conference work, a winning percentage of 0.757 that was second only to Big 12 between all conferences. This is where November and December matter more than people realize, as the Big Ten managed to build a solid profile in the opening six weeks of the season. Now, the league’s par is showing because its depth is off the charts. Six of the Big Ten teams are in the top 35 online rankings, while 12 of the 14 programs are in the top 75. That means only a home game against Nebraska or home / away match vs Minnesota It will be worse than a four-way match in the league. When you have less than a few games that would count as a bad loss, you’ll be in a good position because winning the league will help you more than losing the league will hurt you. This is a sign of a conference that will gather championship units.
Andy Katz: The Big Ten has one team struggling this season in Minnesota, and another out of the NCAA tournament conversation in Nebraska. This means that 12 of the 14 schools are legitimately in the NCAA bid picture. Of course, not all 12 will make it there, but they’ve all won enough games to date, defeated at least one NCAA-bound team, and continue to do well across all metrics. These are stable programs and they all have an identity.
Number 3 Bordeaux tops the league standings. What do you think of the Boilermakers’ chances of running into the Final Four?
dew: very high. The Boilermakers have the most dominant big man and national player of the year captain Zack Eddy. His bucket win the game against Michigan State Monday was a great example of how closer it can be. Once the ball hits the post in a situation like this with the game on the line, he can deliver. But the reason the Kettlers get a Final Four chance is because there are new guards Fletcher Lauer And Braden Smith. Loyer is one of the most trusted shooters in the country, no matter what his class, and he already has several game-winning shots—or at least game-clinching shots. Smith is equally confident and a solid keeper who never seems to be fazed. All in all, the boilers proved to have more depth than originally envisioned.
John: The chances are reasonable, but I will disagree with Andy that the chances are pretty high. For starters, even though the Boilermakers are 17-1, the entire atmosphere of the sport feels open. Why do I have some concerns about Purdue? Michigan State has shown that if you cut the Boilermakers’ guards as low as possible, there’s only so much Eddie can do. He’s the best player in college basketball, but how often do teams win it all with their pivotal player as center? Now, Loyer was huge for this team, and Smith really impressed. I love these new guards and I think their level of production will show how deep this team is. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Boilermakers in the Final Four, but they do have a few things to discover. The biggest problem is the defensive coverage of the high ball screen, such as Tyson Walker Monday showed up when he created nightmares for the Boilers, resulting in Eddie getting hit multiple times by quick plays to the guard and shots from the perimeter. I worry about Purdue’s defense, and if others do similar things to get Eddie to work defensively, he may not be as dominant on offense.
Zack Eddy gives life to #3 Purdue
The Boilermakers big man was just too much to handle against Michigan State.
Which team is most likely to challenge Purdue for the conference crown?
dew: Rutgers. I thought it would be Ohio State Or Michigan State a few weeks ago. But the Buckeyes were hit by a four-game skid, injury to V.J Malik Hall It hurt the Spartans – although it should be noted that they almost beat Purdue on Monday. But Rutgers has the tiebreaker against Purdue with a win over McKee. home loss to yeah It stings, but that’s the only other drawback. Look, there’s no guarantee Rutgers can keep up, but the Scarlet Knights can score now Cam Spencer More regularly, they are the best defensive team in the league. So if they can keep matches in the 50’s and/or 60’s, the Knights have a great chance of winning. Think about this: Rutgers can win Big Ten awards. This is a statement that would not have been made a few years ago. Start.
John: Here’s the deal. Dickinson fisherman And Michigan They are 4-2 in the Big Ten, and the schedule opens the door open for the Wolverines to play a factor in the run. Sure, they haven’t had the prettiest set of results this season, however Kobe Bufkin And Doug McDaniel I’ve made some progress in the backcourt, freshman Jet Howard He averages 15.5 points per game on 45% shooting. Consider this list of upcoming Wolverines:
- 1/19: the time Maryland
- 1/22: Minnesota
- 1/26: Bordeaux
- 1/29: the hour Pennsylvania state
- 2/2: the hour North West
- 2/5: Ohio State
- 2/8: Nebraska
There is really nothing scary for Michigan outside of a massive opportunity at home against the Boilermakers in the middle of this stretch. While the schedule does get tougher as February goes on, the reality is that the Wolverines could very well age and be a different team when that time comes. Juwan Howard’s team can win at College Park on Thursday, and it won’t lose to Minnesota. This means Michigan could go into a 6-2 showdown with Purdue in Ann Arbor with a chance to play first place. This team still has certain things to figure out defensively, but the schedule should allow them to grow with confidence. Michigan should be no worse than 9-4, if not 10-3 heads in the extended run.
Hunter Dickinson throws it
Michigan Wolverines’ Hunter Dickinson went hard to the basket in a game against Maryland earlier this season.
Is there a sleeper team that can make some noise in March?
John: on her best day, Illinois It is one of the top 15-20 teams in the country. If the Illini put their first game there, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see them in the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Illini win 13-5 University of CaliforniaAnd TexasAnd Wisconsin and the state of Michigan. Baylor Transfers Matthew Mayer And Dane Dinga They were welcome additions to Brad Underwood’s group and when he’s a member, Terrence Shannon Jr He is one of the most talented guards in America. Coleman Hawkins Better than advertised, while a student guard Jayden Epps It was a solid plus. Ranking at the top 40 in KenPom’s offensive and defensive proficiency, Illinois is a versatile and high-quality defensive team as well.
dew: yeah. If it’s not Purdue, Rutgers, Ohio State, and/or Michigan State, my next choice would be Iowa State. The Hawkeyes can sign up with any team in the country and they have a productive player Chris Murray. Peyton Sandfort You are now digging 3s f Philip Repraca It was a staple in the interior. This team can defend when it applies itself. Illinois is the other contender, but I still haven’t quite sold the Illini on being a consistent team over a three-to-four-day period with multiple games. Murray is the star that could shine in March.
Can anyone beat Zack Eddy for Conference Player of the Year?
dew: No. is over. Galen Beckett Penn State had a chance a few weeks ago, but the Nittany Lions lost to Purdue in the Palestra, and the Nittany Lions couldn’t beat Michigan in Ann Arbor either. Eddie is a frontrunner for National Player of the Year as well. He has competition of course with Alabama Brandon MillerAnd Kansas Galen WilsonAnd Gonzaga Drew TimAnd Houston Marcus Sasser And Arizona Azulas Toples.
John: If there ever was a “Heisman” moment for Eddie — as if he needed one — it would be this Monday afternoon in East Lansing. On a national FOX broadcast with no other live sport happening, Eddie has shown anyone and everyone that he is a talent we haven’t seen in some time. He cranked up the game-winning bucket of catches and, through a few connections, solidified his hold on National Player of the Year.
The other thing about Eddie? He leaves his ego at the door and has a cool demeanor that rubs off on the rest of the Purdue team. After his performances of 32 and 17 in Monday’s win over the Spartans, Eddie criticized himself, saying that he missed a lot of shots he could make and that he should have had 30 in the first half.
In the uncertain world of college basketball, there is no doubting who is the hottest runner this season: Mr. Eddy.
For those curious about who comes after Eddie in the hierarchy of top players, these are the four players I’d put alongside the 7-foot-5 Purdue star on an all-conference first team:
- Galen Beckett, Pennsylvania
- Chris Murray, Iowa
- Hunter Dickinson, Michigan
- Trace Jackson DavisAnd Indiana
Andy Katz is a writer, analyst, and longtime college basketball host. It can be seen on the Big Ten Network, as well as March Madness and NCAA.com, and hosts the “March Madness 365” podcast. Katz worked for ESPN for nearly two decades, and prior to that, he worked for newspapers for nine years.
John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers sports in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John Fanta.
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