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2009 2010 Big Ten Conference Preview

Big Ten Conference Teams: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin 

 

The Big Ten proved itself to be one of the strongest conferences last year with 7 out of 11 teams earning NCAA Tournament bids. The Big Ten should be even tougher this year with many of the best players deciding to stick around for another year.  With a conference as talented and deep as the Big Ten, nobody will be overlooked.   

Read on for a brief 2009-2010 season preview and conference record prediction for each basketball team in the Big Ten Conference.  Standings/Predictions are listed at the end of the conference preview. 

Illinois 
2008-2009 Record: 24-10, 11-7

After missing the NCAA Tournament in 2008, Illinois did what they needed to do to get back in last season.  They headed home early with a loss to Western Kentucky, 76-72.  The Fighting Illini can look forward to an explosive season, though, with a lot of experience returning and Coach Weber welcoming his best recruiting class yet.  If the talented juniors can correct some of their errors from last year, expect Illinois to run deeper into the postseason. 
2009-2010 Predicted Conference Record: 11-7 

Indiana 
2008-2009 Record: 6-25, 1-17

Year one as coach was tough for Tom Crean.  A new coaching style, personnel adjustments, and different system implementation resulted in a 25 loss season and an 11th place finish in the Big Ten; this, just two seasons after winning 21 overall games and 9 in the conference.  The Hoosiers will almost certainly be better this season.  The team has had a year to adjust to the new system, and they welcome Jeremiah Rivers.  Coach Crean believes that Rivers could be a major game changer.  Expect the Hoosiers to look more comfortable on the court this year.  They’ll tack on a few more W’s in what will be Crean’s second year of rebuilding at Indiana. 
2009-2010 Predicted Conference Record: 2-16 

Iowa 
2008-2009 Record: 15-17, 5-13

In 2 years as head coach, Todd Lickliter, has suffered a number of setbacks.  After last year’s 15 win season, the Hawkeyes will have to figure out what they’re going to do without leading scorers Jake Kelly and Jeff Peterson.  Both left for other schools.  Combined, they scored over 22 points per game.  Matt Gatens (10.8 ppg), entering his second season with Iowa, could fill the void and gain more attention this year.  Considering the talent that will need to be replaced, Iowa will again struggle in an experienced Big Ten Conference. 
2009-2010 Predicted Conference Record: 3-15 

Michigan 
2008-2009 Record: 21-14, 9-9

Michigan fans finally saw some major progress last year.  The Wolverines made it to their first NCAA tournament in 11 years.  They made it to the second round, but lost to no. 8 Oklahoma, 73-63.  After a 9-21 (5-13) season end just a year before, it was a satisfactory improvement.  Can Coach John Beilein’s transformation result in even greater success this season?  Probably so.  Instead of starting from scratch this year, Beilein will be working with plenty of returning talent and high-expectation newcomers.  The Wolverines should have what it takes to see another step forward during the 2009-2010 regular and postseason. 
2009-2010 Predicted Conference Record: 10-8 

Michigan State 
2008-2009 Record: 31-7, 15-3

Michigan soared through their schedule, the Big Ten (for the most part), and the NCAA Tournament to play North Carolina for the title.  They lost 89-72, but will likely use the defeat as fuel for their 2009-2010 season.  Despite the loss of a few key players, Michigan State should have the depth they need to remain national title contenders.  As long as Coach Tom Izzo is able to find suitable replacements, the Spartans will have no problem finding themselves on top of the conference and in the NCAA tournament for a shot at the big one once again. 
2009-2010 Predicted Conference Record: 14-4

Minnesota 
2008-2009 Record: 22-11, 9-9

The Golden Gophers won 22 games and had a short run in the NCAA tournament last year.  They lost to Texas in the first round, 76-62.  Their 2008-2009 record was an improvement from the prior year’s 18 wins.  Minnesota might be taking it to the next level of college basketball.  Their rise should continue with the return of a ton of experienced starters.  Their only key loss is Jamal Abu-Shamala who averaged only 3.8 points per game.  Expect to see Minnesota in the upper part of the conference either this year or next. 
2009-2010 Predicted Conference Record: 10-6 

Northwestern 
2008-2009 Record: 17-14, 8-10

After only one Big Ten win in the 2007-2008 season, Northwestern made a huge leap by winning 8 in the conference last season.  They played Tulsa in the NIT (their first NIT bid with Bill Carmody) but lost 68-59.  Still, not bad, considering the season before they only managed to win 8 games.  With a strong underclassmen base, and talented players returning, the Wildcats will be a better team this year.  The only problem: Everyone else in the conference will be better as well.  Expect a similar conference struggle, but a couple more overall wins.  
2009-2010 Predicted Conference Record: 7-11 

Ohio State 
2008-2009 Record: 22-11, 10-8

Ohio State won 22 games and made it to the NCAA Tournament.  They lost to Siena, only two points short of advancing to the next round.  The Buckeyes return all five starters and 85 percent of their offense from last year.  Unfortunately, it’s looking like starting center Dallas Lauderdale will miss 4-6 weeks due to a hand injury.  He’ll likely miss the North Carolina matchup; not good news for the Buckeyes who will need to be 100 percent to have a chance against the Tar Heels.  Still, Ohio State’s unique blend of experience and talent has Buckeye Nation thinking about a Big 10 title. 
2009-2010 Predicted Conference Record: 11-7 

Penn State 
2008-2009 Record: 27-11, 10-8

The Nittany Lions got to take the spotlight away from their football program last season.  They beat George Mason, Rhode Island, Florida, Notre Dame, and Baylor to win the National Invitational Tournament.  They also had a mid-season victory over a team that would find themselves in the NCAA Tournament championship game: Michigan State.  They hope to build on the confidence and momentum of their successful postseason, to take things to the next level.  An NCAA Tournament bid this next season would be the first since 2001.  Among Penn State’s two losses is NIT MVP Jamelle Cornley.  Other than that, there’s still reason for the Nittany Lions to be optimistic.  They return 53 percent of their scoring and welcome some talented freshmen.   
2009-2010 Predicted Conference Record: 9-9 

Purdue 
2008-2009 Record: 27-10, 11-7

Expectations were high for the Boilermakers last year.  Even though Purdue did slightly better than the year before, some were disappointed.  They won 2 more games and made it one round further in the NCAA tournament.  Still, many expected more out of a talented team returning 5 starters.  This year, Purdue has their eye on a Big Ten title and a deeper run in the postseason.  With the return of their top six players, they still have another shot at making it even further than last season. 
2009-2010 Predicted Conference Record: 12-6 

Wisconsin 
2008-2009 Record: 20-13, 10-8

With 20 wins, Wisconsin once again made it to the NCAA Tournament; but just barely.  In January they lost 6 Big Ten games in a row.  If they hadn’t pulled off 5 consecutive wins right after that, they might have missed the tournament for the first time since 1999.  They won their first game against Florida State, but lost the second to Xavier.  If the Badgers aren’t careful, this might be the year they miss.  They lose veteran forwards Joe Krabbenhoft and Marcus Landry.  Their early season non-conference games should give them the time they need to make adjustments before they play the Big Ten top dogs. 
2009-2010 Predicted Conference Record: 9-9 

Big Ten Regular Season Champions:  Michigan State

Big Ten Tournament Champions: Illinois

Big Ten Conference Standings Prediction for the 2009-2010 Season: 

  1. Michigan State 14-4
  2. Purdue 12-6
  3. Illinois 11-7
  4. Ohio State 11-7
  5. Michigan 11-7
  6. Minnesota 10-8
  7. Wisconsin 9-9
  8. Penn State 9-9
  9. Northwestern 7-11
  10. Iowa 3-13
  11. Indiana 2-16