Preseason Basketball Poll Released
The ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll was released today, and to much surprise, the coaches voted Ohio State as the #4 team in the nation. I, like most of the Buckeye faithful, find this rating to be high. Somehow, this team even managed to steal a #1 vote from Florida. Whoever did that obviously didn't know that Greg Oden is out until January, and that there's a very small chance that the rest of the freshmen are going to be able to gel quick enough to have great success in the non-conference schedule. One has to wonder how these Buckeyes start 5 spots above the preseason favorites to win the Big Ten, Wisconsin. The Badgers could turn this conference into a battle for #2, as Alando Tucker and Co. could run away with things quickly. Unsurprisingly, Florida is the near-unanimous Number 1 team, and North Carolina is a distant #2. My knowledge of college basketball doesn't go much past the Big Ten and the traditional powers, so don't expect much national analysis as the season wears on. If I had to predict how things will play out in the Big Ten this season, it would be as follows:
Pfef's 30 second conference preview:
1. Wisconsin - Preseason POY Alando Tucker and virtually everyone else comes back from a team that is poised to dominate
2. Ohio State - Greg Oden will be back in time for conference play, and this is a down year for big men in the Big Ten. You do the math.
3. Indiana - DJ White probably has conference comeback player of the year locked up, and is the favorite for the National award. Kelvin Sampson will give this team the shot of life that the Hoosier's have lacked of late.
4. Michigan - Courtney Sims is the best returning big man in the Big Ten, and that alone should win them quite a few games.
5. Illinois - Dee Brown and James Augustine are both gone. If Brian Randle can't make the fans forget about them, then it is going to be a long season in Champaign.
6. Michigan State - Shannon Brown? Gone. Paul Davis? See ya later. Maurice Ager? Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. These guys were referred to as a "Big 3" last season because there weren't many other options on the Spartans team. Now, Tom Izzo will have his hardest test as a coach to date.
7. Iowa - Their most highly touted recruit, Tyler Smith, who was expected to fill the space left by three top seniors, was arrested last month. Consider that an omen.
8. Penn State - Here's a team that many, including Dick Vitale, are expecting to do big things this season. However, it's hard to do big things when your tallest starter is 6'5"
9. Purdue - It's always interesting to see how players return from huge knee injuries. Carl Landry was an 18 point/7 rebound kind of guy two seasons ago, and he'll need to return to that form to give Purdue any hope.
10. Minnesota - All 5 starters are gone from a team that didn't even make the NIT last season.
11. Northwestern - The little talent they had last year has since moved on, and there isn't any talent coming into replace it.