If you would to start a discussion to compare seniors Walton/Irvin against seniors Hill/Nunn I wouldn’t be surprised if some said Walton/Irvin are better or Hill/Nunn are better. The question after that would be supporting cast.
Like I said - was just playing devil’s advocate. Clearly the Illini have had some rough luck with injuries and other circumstances, but talent wise I’d say they’re as good (or slightly better) than UM. Yet I have a lot more confidence that UM will finish in the second tier than I do Illinois…and I suppose that is actually because of JB.
If Nigel Hayes declares I see Wisconsin ranking around 5-8 but with him back 1-3. He is the game changer there. Iowa for me is 8-10 with Jok without 11-13 and Maryland 3-8 with trimble 10-13 without. Those are my 3 difference makers that can completely change the conference next year.
Nunn won’t be on illinois team for long. Two domestic battery charges. Black may not be on the team for committing a felony. That team is going to be bad for awhile. Tate has a domestic charge against him too.
If Melo and Hayes go (Melo seems likely, I have not seen a thing on hayes), is it reasonable to say that this is so wide open that we could just as well be favorites as many of the others could be? Quick reflex is probably to say MSU’s talent, or Wisc (sans Hayes) / IU’s returning players have some priority, but I’m not so sure on paper anyway. 7 top 100s, many of whom are senior. At least on player ratings x experience I would think we would rank at the top, noting though that this doesn’t always translate to Ws
There’s absolutely no reason outside the entire team catching influenza that we shouldn’t be contending for a conference championship next year.
- Indiana - Blackmon, Bryant, and Anoubi are the best returning trio in the conference.
- Wisconsin - Lots of experience and production returning; always good
- Michigan State - High ceiling, but they don’t honestly return a lot of production and have a thin front court. Going to need their Freshman Foursome to all hit the ground running, and that’s go given (consider that Kentucky often has growing pains despite BETTER classes many years).
- Michigan - Hopefully healthy, lots of experience/leadership, and returning 95% of the production from an NCAA tourney team. Lack a surefire star/NBA talent (unless…Mo) but Villanova shows us that isn’t always necessary.
- Ohio State - They return a veteran core from a decent team. Should make the tourney
- Purdue - Haas and Edwards will win them a lot of games. Probably capable of finishing anywhere in the Top 2-6 if Swanigan returns. But their backcourt is always mediocre.
- Northwestern - Bold Prediction: They make the NCAA Tournament.
- Maryland - If Tremble, Stone, and Carter all leave like expected. Plus Layman and Sulaiman gone, they lose a ton. I think they still have talent but I don’t love any team losing like 7 of their top 8 guys.
9-10: Penn State, Nebraska - Dark horses. I like their coaches a lot. They always play tough and could catch magic.
11-13: Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota - One loses a ton from a solid 4 year run. Illinois lost a ton from a mess on/off the court. Minnesota has some promising pieces, but also some dummies off the court. And Pitino is outclassed by both Groce and McCaffrey.
- Rutgers - Only worth mentioning because whoever plays them twice will ultimately have a boost in the Big Ten standings, but an anchor on their RPI.
This article by Josh Langford is a few weeks old but it’s a good read. Moving personal story. Really a shame that we missed on him.
I agree, we should be in contention, barring another injury bug. And, as it seems you feel, I agree that, with a healthy team, JB will be deserving of critiquing and questioning, if the the team isn’t successful. But I also think that I am generally more optimistic about what last year’s healthy roster could have been capable of, and JB’s ability to coach up the players, even in the latter parts of their career. So I am wondering where your optimism comes from? Is it just that 2016-17 appears to be a down year for the B1G? Do you think a healthy Zak and an offseason of strength/conditioning/learning will make several players better? Excited about the incoming class? Just curious.
Regarding the last thing you mentioned about an offseason of S&C: You have to wonder going forward how much of an edge that’s going to give Michigan.
After what’s happened the past couple of years with all the injuries, it’s only logical to expect U-M to become more cautious on that front. Beilein has talked a bit about making sure guys don’t overdo it. I just don’t know if we can presume that U-M’s offseason work will do more for them than what other programs are doing.
I don’t see any link with the S&C program and UM’s recent injuries, unless the players are all doing different workouts. They have had a variety of injuries including hips, ankles, backs and toes. If there were a connection, you would expect similar injuries.
Note: I am not a doctor, I just play one on the Internet.