somehow we're only 124th
Michigan just scooped their own press conference with a press release. Snippet:
Robinson III, Stauskas Declare for Early Entry into NBA Draft
April 15, 2014
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan men's basketball head coach John Beilein announced today (Tuesday, April 15) that sophomores Glenn Robinson III (St. John, Ind./Lake Central) and Nik Stauskas (Mississauga, Ontario/St. Mark's School [Mass.]) will forgo their final two years of eligibility and submit the necessary paperwork to declare for early entry into the 2014 National Basketball Association (NBA) Draft.
"In a very short period of time, these two young men have had a very positive impact on the Michigan Basketball program," said Beilein. "From day one, Glenn and Nik have had the right attitude and work ethic that has helped us enjoy so much of our recent success."
That's the way this was going, and now it has gone. Raise your hand if you thought Michigan would have four early NBA draft entries in two years under John Beilein, let alone four in two years. That's nobody. Weird place we're in now. Great place. Weird place.
Anyway, godspeed, gentlemen. May your NBA careers be long and fruitful and draw other players of your ilk to Ann Arbor.
The day has (mostly) come. Expect a post at about 3:35 today, as Michigan has called a press conference featuring Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III at 3:30 wherein they will either announce their NBA draft futures or talk about their favorite things to put on hamburgers. Here's hoping it's the latter.
I don't think there's a huge amount of suspense with either of those two guys. Michigan is bringing in Muhammed Ali Abdur-Rahkman for an official this weekend, and now there are multiple reports that Robinson has signed with an agent or hasn't signed but is entering the draft anyway.
The suspense is with Mitch McGary, who is not announcing:
McGary's father, Tim McGary, told MLive on Monday night that his son has no intentions to partake in the press conference and is still undecided on whether he return to U-M or not.
"He's still back and forth on it," Tim McGary said.
So he's not gone; neither is he necessarily back. He has until the 27th to make that decision; the NCAA's deadline is an entirely artificial one.
The fact that he's still debating things is obviously good. It is not as good as McGary being ready to announce a return would be; it is still good. Scout's Brian Snow has reported a shift of opinion($) in the Indiana recruiting circles he pings regularly that is positive for Michigan, so there's that. Sam Webb confirmed, insofar as it is possible to confirm an opinion on a decision that clearly hasn't been made yet.
Abdur-Rahkman, 40 in white
ha no but man wouldn't that be something
he's the guy with the ball
not that I had to tell you that
Meanwhile, MAAR. If Michigan does settle on Abdur-Rahkman as a spring take I'll be satisfied; Beilein and company have proved they can ID a diamond in the rough and, like… MAAR for four years. Misspelled Smiths tie in acronym: yes please.
MAAR currently has a slate of mid-major offers after a senior season in which he averaged nearly 24 points a game for Central Catholic. Joe Stapleton's article linked above indicates the seriousness of Michigan's interest—Beilein calls him "at least three times a week"*—despite the fact that he is not just a shooter because he's not, in fact, a shooter:
Abdur-Rahkman would be a slight departure from the prototypical Michigan recruit in that he isn’t known for his shooting. In fact, the graduating senior said that while his shot has improved, he made his living getting to the rim and playing great man-to-man defense.
A defensive stopper type would be welcome, and shooting can develop. If Michigan was to offer it doesn't seem like it'll take a whole lot of thought from MAAR:
“(Michigan is) definitely the top school.”
Abdur-Rahkman also deviates from the Beilein model in that he's old for his class. In fact, he is literally as old as you can be and still play high school basketball in Pennsylvania:
Abdur-Rahkman turned 16 on Sept. 1 at the start of his freshman year, which means, of course, he turned 19 on Sept. 1 of this past year. The cutoff date for meeting the PIAA's age requirement is Sept. 1, meaning that had Muhammad been born on Aug. 31, he would have had to be part of the 2013 graduating class.
He'll be 20 by the time he arrives on campus. Good for immediate readiness, bad for upside. Kind of like grabbing a hockey player after a couple years of JUCO.
*[They deregulated phone calls in men's basketball, if that sounds like a violation to you. Kelvin Sampson sighs heavily at home about this.]
WELP. Here's this draft evaluation of Taylor Lewan from SBNation that discusses Taylor Lewan, who is of interest to us as a Michigan alum who is likely to go in the top half of the first round of the draft.
What a shitty offense
So I wanted to focus this breakdown on Taylor Lewan, not the severe annoyance I had with the way Michigan used him. But since it was the one thing that stood out to me the most while watching Lewan play, I am going to go ahead and address it right off the bat.
Now look, I don't profess to be some kind of expert on offenses, but some things about football I just feel like should be common sense. For instance, if you have a superior blocker at left tackle, most of your help from tight ends and running backs, whether it be run blocking or pass blocking, should go to the other four guys. It should also allow you to design plays built around his athleticism to help get your skill position players free out in space. Stuff like smoke screens (WR takes one step forward then one step back to catch the ball while his blockers lead up in front of him) or really any kind of screens, counter plays (where you pull the offensive guard and tackle from one side of the center to the other side of the center) and any number of sweep plays (runs designed to get wide outside of the offensive tackle).
I didn't see much of that in the five games that I watched. Furthermore, why in the HELL did Michigan keep a tight end to Lewan's side so damn much? He obviously didn't need the help. The quarterback was right handed anyway (with bootlegs you like for the tight end to be lined up to the side of the quarterback's throwing hand), and they could have potentially had a wide receiver there instead of a tight end. It would've increased the chances of success on passing downs as well as run downs if you get the opposing defenses spread themselves out. But is that what Michigan did?
This very long blockquote is not the end of former NFL DE Stephen White's evisceration of last year's Michigan offense, despite it being a very long blockquote. I expect that White will be getting some very stern comments from the folks around here who fought the rearguard action for Team Borges with such heroic ferocity last season when I made statements like "this is stupid," "this makes no sense," and "it is bad when your tailbacks run 27 times for 27 yards."
Michigan protected Taylor Lewan with a tight end so often that it made it hard for this draft evaluator to, you know, evaluate Taylor Lewan. Meanwhile, the interior of the line was a highway to Devin Gardner's ribs. And the kicker is: the tight ends couldn't even block. Michigan was tossing away its main advantage on the line—dang good tackles—because of their philosophy about manballin' it. That's alarming, because that seems like it comes from the top. It's all well and good to be Stanford or Alabama if you can be that, but when you're on your way to dead last TFLs… probably not.
We'll see. Rubber hits the road in September.
Oh, good. Putting Chad Lindsay on 27 tickets turns out to be premature, as the Alabama transfer is getting his woo on. After his visit to Michigan he hit up Louisville and Oklahoma; this week he's headed to Cal and… Ohio State. Oh goody.
OSU lost four seniors off last year's line and can pitch Lindsay playing time, and you know there's nothing in the world Urban would like more than grabbing Lindsay away from Michigan even if he ends up sitting on the bench the whole year. Especially if he ends up sitting on the bench the whole year.
Get out of there while you still can, Chad.
This will help you feel better about the previous section. Someone's really into Amir Williams saying coach be all over his di—
For pants sake, lady, can you see a camera without reflexively extending your tongue and squinting? I submit that you cannot.
Mascot of the week. The El Paso Chihuahuas' Chico has been hanging with Eight Ball the Tiger:
Mascots should be as frightening as possible. I approve.
YUP. It's almost like arguments against a college football playoff weren't particularly good ones.
40 bowl games next year. Man, I am old enough to remember when the worthless suits who run CFB said a playoff would kill all the bowl games
— jamie mac (@justcoverblog) April 15, 2014
Our worthless suit overlords think so little of us they kept the guy who was issuing these proclamations around to issue the exact opposite proclamations.
The Michigan Difference. Michigan PhD grad makes joke about Darren Rovell on twitter.
— neilla (@_neillam) April 8, 2014
1) "Wait, so who is this guy? Is
@darrenrovell actually famous?"
2) "What did he think we were going to do? Take away your diploma?"
/sings fight song, waves tiny block M flag
I am always very careful about how I mis-state the word rapper. Ace informs me that this gentleman with Devin Gardner is noted rappist "Two Chains," but I say balderdash, I say!
COUNT THE CHAINS, "TWO CHAINS." His real name is Excessive Watches IV. He goes home and takes off all of that, sits down with a Forbes, and looks exactly like Carlton. Fact. E-fact. Also his rap song just cannot compete with the Charleston.
This has been Brian pretends he's more out of touch than he is to forestall accusations of being out of touch theater. Thank you.
Thanks, bro. Horford opens up about his decision to leave to MLive; it turns out his zen does not extend to the rest of his family:
"(Transferring) is something that my family has been trying to persuade me to do for four years," Horford said. "So I guess naturally it's always been inevitable -- when people are telling you something all the time."
I get the feeling that Horford's support system regards Horford's abilities with… uh… enthusiasm not necessarily in line with reality. The reason his playing time dropped late in the season is that he wasn't playing well. I mean… when Morgan went out I was always like WHEN CAN WE GET MORGAN BACK IN. Play better and you get more time. Or wait for Morgan to graduate and go get it like he did.
Please please please let me get what I want (fewer timeouts) this time. Timeouts are a scourge upon basketball, not only turning 60 seconds of clock time into a writhing eternity of nothingness but also reducing the chaos factor that a trailing team attempts to insert into the game late. On four seconds trying to inbound the ball? Timeout. Trapped in the corner? Timeout. Want to get your defense set? Timeout. Timeouts are used to prevent turnovers, keep the leading team in the lead, and let over-coaching guys in suits maintain as much control as possible. They result in two and a half hour games that mean you have to stream the first ten minutes of your game on ESPN3. They are miserable and should be almost entirely removed.
They won't be, but at least the misery of them is a thing that has reached the people who can do something about it:
Everyone agreed that one of the biggest detractions of the current game is the eternity it takes to end a close one. That is largely due to the number of timeouts granted to each team, both officially (five per team per game) and unofficially (coaches are given a minute to substitute when a player fouls out). Replay reviews are viewed as a necessary evil in the quest for the right calls, but they also add to the length of an endgame situation. Coaches cherish their control of the game and thus will be loath to surrender timeouts, but fans everywhere would embrace fewer stoppages in play – especially late in a game. The NCAA said it will begin tracking the length of games next year, as it does in football.
"Length is becoming a concern," said David Worlock, NCAA associate director of men's basketball.
You're going to begin tracking games? And you don't think there's anything wrong with the current replay setup? Argh. But yes, please, shoot timeouts into the sun. One per team per game.
An elimination of live-ball timeouts, or at least limiting those calls to players instead of coaches. This would be a move toward FIBA international rules, which allow no live-ball timeouts.
Reducing the shot clock to either 30 or 24 seconds. Brey said he is in favor, and there seems to be fairly wide support for a reduction of some kind – although there also is a concern about college hoops becoming an NBA copycat league. (Interestingly, Byrd said his Belmont team occasionally uses a 12-second shot clock in practice to force tempo and enhance conditioning.)
With zone defenses viable and the skill level generally reduced, shortening the shot clock just results in more ugly shots. 45 to 35 was necessary, but in college 35 is fine.
This is the report the reporter is reporting:
Source: Michigan soph forward Glenn Robinson III has signed with an agent and will enter the NBA Draft. Press conference coming this week.
— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) April 14, 2014
If you're wondering why this guy would get it first, the signed with an agent bit is the gateway there. Fischer writes for SLAM and the Boston Globe, FWIW.
this person is eligible to be drafted we know nothing else [Bryan Fuller]
Mississauga, ON’s Nik Stauskas will enter the 2014 NBA draft and choose Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports to represent him reliable sources have told Hoops Hype Canada.
Just wanted to reiterate that any reports about my future intenions are FALSE! I have NOT made ANY decisions on my future yet!
— Nik Stauskas (@NStauskas11) April 10, 2014
I'M GETTING MY HOPES UP
U-M hoops fans getting their hopes up … I wouldn't. That's not inside info. Just everyone thinks Nik will go. Nothing has really changed.
— Michael Spath (@Spath_Wolverine) April 10, 2014
Actually that seems like a bad idea
Well this was pointless
Can we at least get some recriminations
For whatever reason, BS sourcing standards that would never fly for regular stories are commonplace for sports. "Sources say?" Come on.
— Zach Helfand (@zhelfand) April 10, 2014
Rounding up the exit. Further takes on the end of Michigan's season come from Genuinely Sarcastic:
In three of the last four seasons, Michigan's season has come down to one final shot in the dying moments. That's actually pretty astonishing when you think about it. All the chaos and moving parts of a basketball game, boiling down to one shot on three separate occasions in three separate games. All three involved different circumstances, and a Michigan program at different stages of its evolution.
Sometimes you don't appreciate you have until it's gone. Which is why I am thankful we were able to send off Jordan Morgan on a high note. Morgan is exactly what we want our players to be, tenacious, hard-working, always working to be better, and, oh yeah, a pretty damn good student to boot. To see all of the #ThanksJMo tweets after the game is to know that we didn't lose sight of what was going to end when Stauskas's last shot fell short. We know we're probably also losing some other players, and we'll deal with that when the time comes, but for now, we appreciate what we had, because it was fun. It was just fun.
INDIANAPOLIS — Moments after the game, the sun is low in the sky and Lucas Oil Stadium casts a long shadow across Indianapolis as, inside, Michigan walks off the court for the last time together. Jordan Morgan is first, well before anyone else. Glenn Robinson III gives a quick wave to the crowd and puts his head down. Nik Stauskas is emotionless. Mitch McGary, who was never getting into the game, walks off wearing the uniform his teammates have insisted he wear.
Later, Morgan, held up by his press conference, is one of the last to enter the Michigan locker room. Most of the room is composed except for Zak Irvin, who is emotional in one corner of the room, and for Morgan. He wipes his face with his sleeve and cries in front of the television cameras.
His teammates have said the loss is all the more difficult because it means they’ll never play another game with Morgan. The senior doesn’t know how to respond.
He pauses to wipe his eyes.
“I didn’t expect it to be my last game,” Morgan says.
“It’s over. I don’t know what else to say.”
And Nick Baumgardner:
But while every team in this NCAA tournament, save for one, ends its season with a loss, they don't all end their season without regret.
This Michigan team earned the right to live -- forever -- with a clear conscience.
"You can be mad if you want," Michigan's Jon Horford said. "But if you make guys hit tough shots they don't normally hit.
"Then you shake their hand."
Draft stuff. NBA draft types seem to be in consensus about Michigan's three early entry candidates: Stauskas is out the door, but the other two should return. "Should" and "will" are two very different things, of course. Also, when NBA draft types talk about these things they talk about them from the perspective of the NBA, not the player.
Disclaimers aside, NBA type on Robinson:
Projecting where Robinson could be selected in this year's NBA draft is difficult. His potential is boundless, but his play has been erratic. The scout described his prospective draft position as "all over the board for some people."
He concluded saying Robinson should return to Ann Arbor to "develop some consistency in his game."
A guy the BTN talked to:
Glenn Robinson III
Why he should stay: Should finally emerge as Michigan’s star player. Showed flashes of what people expected as a sophomore, but not consistently. Should look better with Walton having a year under his belt as point guard.
Why he should leave: Teams still like his skill and athleticism. Could flourish enough in workout situations to alleviate NBA concerns.
As I mentioned in the post a couple days ago, Robinson's clear frustration at being forced to play the 4 is something that will weigh on him. This makes Mark Donnal the most important guy on the team from GRIII's perspective. If Mitch returns Donnal is free to play the 4 for basically all of his minutes, and if he's a 25 minute or 30 minute guy that means Robinson's spending almost all of his time on the wing.
As for Mitch, there is almost universal agreement that it would be hard to take the guy in the first round with the questions about his back and relatively thin resume. McGary would have to be confident in his ability to go full McGary in draft camps this month if he was going to make a leap. Anonymous NBA guy:
If he chooses to declare for the draft, McGary's health will be "picked apart in this process" due to an injury classified only as a lower-back condition, according to the scout.
It's clear both Robinson and McGary entered the year planning that this would be their last at Michigan, and that momentum will make deciding to stay more difficult than it otherwise even if it seems like the best idea to return for both.
These days there is no withdrawal, so the dates that matter are April 16th, when the Portsmouth Invitational starts and the 27th, which is the last day to declare. GRIII and McGary will almost certainly decide by the 16th, as Portsmouth is where a lot of first or second round decisions get hashed out.
Also in draft stuff. I'm not sure if this draft blogger the BTN talked to has anything solid or if he's just guessing based on the fact that everyone flees West Lafayette, but here's the hypothetical death knell for Matt Painter's career:
Why he should stay: Showed very little improvement in many ways from freshman to sophomore year. A dominant junior year could make him a first-round pick.
Why he should leave: Skilled big men and shot-blockers are always in demand at the NBA level and Hammons’ development may have stalled at Purdue.
Prediction: Enters Draft
Tom Dienhart also predicted a Hammons departure, FWIW. I know Hammons is a frustrating dude but he's all Purdue has right now.
Other decisions the Big Ten is waiting on include Sam Dekker and (now) Frank Kaminsky at Wisconsin plus Gary Harris and Branden Dawson at MSU. Gary Parrish reported that barring a 180 in the next couple days, Harris is out the door. Dawson is a bit of a surprising name, but he's got financial issues and pretty much is what he is at this point: a 20-minutes-a-game defensive specialist.
MSU is also offering firm handshakes to potential fifth-year players Alex Guana and Russell Byrd. The latter is a little sad, since he had the highest ratio of bark to bite in the Big Ten. From the spectator's position, it's always tough to lose a guy like that.
Freshman talk. Via MGoVideo:
Canteen made a catch! And he's wearing 17. Always enjoy guys wearing oddball numbers I have no association with. Looking forward to Canteen changing it six times over the course of his career.
Wrong move, buddy. Now we're going to try and beat you. Ohio State cockiness increments yearly these days. And one day super super soon they are going to regret it, I tell you. Until then, the prospect of random OSU assistant coaches spouting off about Michigan remains. Ed Warinner:
Ed Warinner: "If you're worried about Wolverine fans, just move to Pasadena. You'll never have to deal with 'em."
— Marcus Hartman (@marcushartman) April 2, 2014
Standard message board banter. Okay. And then:
Warinner on lost playbooks in Michigan: "I heard Brady was upset because he hadn't finished coloring them."
— Marcus Hartman (@marcushartman) April 2, 2014
From the People In Charge Of Things Are Just In Charge Of Them file. Texas has a new athletic director, who is in charge of Texas. He is also an idiot.
He sees Texas as being in a unique position to grow its international brand and said it's essential to use athletics as a platform to tell the university's story.
"They shouldn't be done for junketeering purposes," Patterson said. "They should be done in a fashion that grows the profile and the interest of the university of a broad scale internationally."
Patterson reportedly has expressed interest in playing a nonconference football game in Mexico City. Another possibility Patterson acknowledged Tuesday could be a future sporting event in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
This dude already scheduled a Texas basketball game in China, but will not even consider playing Texas A&M. The goal appears to be pissing off your core fanbase as much as possible. CEO types are just emperors running around naked as the day is long these days, searching for growth at all costs like their department is a publicly traded company.
Also… "junketeering." Just keep shooting bullets into the English language until it topples, guys.
It's on. The Michigan legislature passed a bill allowing Michigan to sell alcohol for that rumored Man U/Real Madrid friendly this summer, which was followed up by an announcement there would be an announcement tomorrow. Expect them to announce a series of announcements about announcements culminating in a soccer game.
ESPN just tweeted out something about how true freshman Mason Cole was looking very good and "competing for the starting left tackle spot," so you'll forgive me if I take one more day to think about basketball before pivoting towards what will be a never ending supply of quotes about toughness that no one is going to care about until they actually see something on the field.
But first, a glimpse into what the next basketball seas-
At Michigan, toughness -- and new offense -- drive offseason
-on might hold. Michigan loses defensive keystone Jordan Morgan from what was statistical-
Remember when Michigan had trouble controlling the line of scrimmage?
“That's a toughness thing,” Hoke said.
-ly Beilein's worst at Michigan, and then the NBA draft-
Or what about not finishing, losing four games by a combined 11 points -- and leading three of them entering the fourth quarter?
“Toughness,” Hoke said.
JUST ONE FRIGGIN' DAY OKAY. JUST ONE. Jeez.
Anyway. Beilein loses defensive keystone Jordan Morgan off a unit that slipped to 101st after the Kentucky game; everyone else returns save those who will set sail for the NBA draft. So…
The NBA Draft
Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III, and Mitch McGary will all have options. McGary and Robinson returned as a unit with the idea they would rip things up this year and then depart; McGary's injury and a bit of stagnation in Robinsons game interfered with that plan. Stauskas just plain blew up.
All available tea leaves point to Stauskas's departure. The feeling anyone in the building got when Michigan cut down the nets to celebrate their outright Big Ten title was that he was out. While Stauskas shot down his father's overly honest take as to his future, one of those things is PR and it's not hard to figure out which one.
Stauskas is solidly in the first round anywhere that bothers to rank prospects—17th at Draft Express, 15th to Gary Parrish, 21st to Chad Ford—and just saw two teammates drop in those rankings from the spot he's at right now to second round grades. It would be a Lewan-level upset if he came back.
The fates of Robinson and McGary are murkier. Robinson has alternately sounded like a guy open to a return…
"There have been times this year when I thought about it and heard a lot of talk and everything," Robinson said. "I just want to make the best decision, the best decision for me, because I want to play this game for a long time. So if I'm not ready, I'm not ready."
…and a guy headed out the door…
“At the beginning of the season, things weren’t going right,” Robinson explained on Saturday. “I was going to play the three and coach decided he wanted me back at the four when Mitch got hurt.”
The move was tough on the 6-foot-6 sophomore.
“I was kind of upset a little bit about that,” Robinson admitted. “I was kind of questioning my decision to come back.”
…depending on the context and question. Generally in these situations the out-the-door thing is more likely, but Robinson's stock has fallen to the point where he has a tough decision. Most places have him a second rounder—one in the range that Tim Hardaway Jr was last year before draft workouts saw him leap into the first round. DX has him 37th, Parrish 39th, Ford 32nd.
It's clear that Michigan sold Robinson on the idea of playing the three, his NBA spot, when he returned. They would have to do that again, presumably by promising a lot of McGary/Donnal frontcourts with Robinson on the wing.
And then there's McGary, who parlayed a brilliant six-game run in the tourney into a mid-first round grade, annihilated various camps in the summer, and came down with a back injury that lingered until it required surgery. What is an NBA draft executive supposed to do with that information attached to a guy a year older than his class? Guess wildly. McGary is also universally hailed as a early second-rounder; in his case the motivation to return seems obvious. A healthy year of McGary should make him an easy first-rounder once again.
If I had to guess I'd say Michigan gets one of the three back and that's Mitch. But nothing would shock me… other than a Stauskas return.
So Then What
Assuming the scenario in the last paragraph plays out, these are your 2014-15 Michigan Wolverines:
- PG: Walton (So., 30 min), Albrecht (Jr., 10 min)
- SG: Irvin (So., 30 min), Chatman (Fr., 10 min)
- SF: LeVert (Jr., 35 min), Chatman (Fr., 5 min)
- PF: Donnal (Fr., 30 min), McGary (Jr., 10 min)
- C: McGary (Jr., 20 min), Horford (Sr., 20 min)
That's an eight man rotation. Michigan also has Ricky Doyle and DJ Wilson coming in. If McGary returns they can definitely redshirt one and maybe both; if he returns they have to play one and maybe both. Michigan will be in the market for any LeVert-like spring risers in this scenario; they could also take a transfer.
That looks… wow. I am shocked at how good that looks given that this hypothetical scenario has bombed three NBA draft picks off the roster. (Trey would hypothetically be a senior if he was not Trey.) Michigan returns LeVert, who is improving nightly and still has buckets of upside since he's a year younger than most guys his grade. They have two top-50 recruits who turned in promising freshman years and promise to blow up themselves. They're guards entering year two under Jordan/Beilein. A veritable leap beckons.
What if Glenn's back?
You're an optimistic scallywag this afternoon. Robinson's return would probably chop five to ten minutes off of four players' time: Horford, Donnal, Chatman, and Irvin.
What if Mitch is gone?
You are a nasty pessimist this afternoon. McGary departing would likely force Ricky Doyle to pick up 15-20 minutes a game with the rest of the vacated post minutes going to Donnal and Horford; there would be more of those worrying small lineups with Irvin at the 4.
What kind of team is that one above?
Uh… well… I mean I know they'll have just spit out a bunch of guys to the NBA but doesn't that look like another protected seed? Obviously there's a large range of possibility there, ranging from another two to a four, but if you look at that lineup the one question mark is Donnal, who is Beilein's first true stretch big in his time at Michigan.
How did this happen?
I don't know man.
I hesitate to make any strident proclamations after Nebrasketball happened this year. Persist we must. Next year's Big Ten looks like a race between four teams: Michigan, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Surprise Team To Be Named Later That I Will Say Is Iowa, After Which Everyone Will Shake Their Heads Softly And Wonder What Is My Deal With Iowa.
Michigan State isn't going to drop out of the tournament but in the likely event of a Gary Harris departure they lose him, Payne, and Appling and haven't brought in the level of talent those gentlemen represent in a few years now. Travis Trice, starting point guard, says it all.
Michigan probably isn't going to have the best offense in the Kenpom era and win the league by three games again. Probably.
At the bottom of the league, Purdue and Penn State figure to be less annoying thorns in the side of teams up the ladder after the departures of all Johnsons from the Boilers and Tim Frazier from Penn State. Penn State is going to lean heavily on DJ Newbill, as they did a year ago. Purdue is going to turn to… Bryson Scott? This figures to be Matt Painter's last year in West Lafayette.
Also, Northwestern turns over more of the offense to Sanjay Lumpkin.
Who's about the same?
You'd think Ohio State would take a hit with the losses of Craft and Ross, but they were already 10-8 in the league last year. They've added Temple fifth-year transfer Anthony Lee to their frontcourt, get SG Kam Williams off a redshirt—although that redshirt does invite one to wonder about how good this dude actually is given the state of the OSU offense—and bring in an excellent recruiting class featuring next year's Guy You Wish Beilein Had, Keita Bates-Diop. They'll probably be the same middling Big Ten team that doesn't have to worry about the bubble next year.
Davis (#15) might be Indiana's starting 5 next year, and he is basically Will Sheehey
Indiana brings in some talented recruits with poor decision making skills. They lose Noah Vonleh and Jeremy Hollowell in the middle. The only guy taller than 6'7" on the roster for next year is Hanner Mosquera-Perea, who Indiana just about refused to play even before his DUI incident. Can a Big Ten team featuring Devin Davis at the 5 make the NCAA tournament? Looks like bubble at best.
Minnesota loses Austin Hollins and no on else of significance; will remain Minnesota until such time as they are not a .500-ish Big Ten team that barely misses or makes the tournament.
As appalling as this is to consider, unless Sam Dekker takes his talents to the NBA there's no reason Wisconsin should take a step back. If anything they should charge forward with a senior Kaminsky. Their only loss is Ben Brust, a highly effective outside gunner who Bo Ryan will replace seamlessly because that's how he do. As long as someone shakes Traevon Jackson and tells him he's not Trey Burke every 30 seconds, they have to be the league favorite.
On the opposite side of the spectrum that runs from Bo Ryan through Stalin to Rainbow Dash and ends at Tim Miles, Nebraska exists. Their only departure from a breakthrough tournament team is Ray Gallegos, who was marginalized as a senior because he was a Designated Corner Gunner who hit 33% and Nebraska no longer thought that was their best option. The Pitchford/Shields/Petteway core is all sophomores who will be around another two years, and this is a team that went from 8-8 to 19-11 to end the regular season. Second-half Nebraska is a league contender.
And I will put my hand in the fire again: it's Iowa's year, baby! They lose the talented but inconsistent Roy Devin Marble, generally inexplicable Zach McCabe, and Melsahn Basabe. They return a pile of enormous dudes: White, Olaseni, Woodbury, and Uthoff all go at least 6'9". Aging big men put it together and Iowa's got senior White, senior Olaseni, and junior Woodbury on deck. If they can find some shooters they'll be much better than they were a year ago.
Illinois found something at the end of the year and loses only Joseph Betrand; since one of the things they found late was "maybe we should play our freshmen" the future bodes well. Or at least better than 7-11 in the league. Meanwhile, incoming recruit Leron Black is described as a "junkyard dog"—exactly what the Illini need at the 4 next to the uninspiring rebounding of Nnanna Egwu.
How About A Stupid Prediction?
Going to have to wait until draft declarations are made.