Cnotes Looking Ahead To 2017 College Hoops !

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    [B][I]Grading Coaching Hires
    April 13, 2017[/I][/B]

    [B][I]Indiana – In: Archie Miller; Out: Tom Crean[/I][/B]

    — I’ve been saying Archie Miller is a star in the business since taking Dayton to the Elite Eight in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. During his six-year run at UD, Miller compiled a 139-63 overall record (68.8%) and a 68-34 mark in Atlantic-10 play (66.7%), taking the Flyers to four consecutive NCAA Tournaments to close his tenure. Miller went 5-4 in the Tourney and won at least 24 games in each of his final four seasons. The former scrappy N.C. State point guard (1998-2002) also took UD to the NIT in his first season. He comes from amazing basketball DNA, as he and his older brother Sean played prep hoops under their father, John Miller, who retired as a high school basketball head coach after posting a 657-280 record in 35 seasons. The elder Miller went 104-29 in postseason play. Sean played for Pittsburgh and was a four-year starter at the point-guard position, handing out the famous assist to Jerome Lane, who shattered the glass backboard and prompted Bill Raftery’s legendary call, “Send it in, Jerome!!” Archie and Sean also have a sister, Lisa, who played college ball at Elon and Toledo.

    There are two more huge factors that have me grading this hire as the best of this offseason. First of all, Archie is only 38 years of age and already has six years of head-coaching experience. And for those not in the know, make no mistake about it, Dayton is a big-time program with a rabid fan base. I saw it first hand at FedEx Forum in Memphis at the South Region finals in 2014 when my Gators were essentially playing a road game in terms of fan noise, as the Flyers’ faithful poured more than 10,000 fans into the stands. Secondly, Archie has assembled an outstanding staff. He has brought along Tom Ostrom, his top aide at UD. Ostrom worked under Billy Donovan at the University of Florida and played a critical role in the recruitment of Joakim Noah and Mike Miller. He followed a fellow UF assistant, John Pelphrey, to South Alabama and Arkansas. When Pelphrey was fired at Arkansas, he joined Miller at UD.

    Bruiser Flint, who has 20 seasons of head-coaching experience under his belt (15 at Drexel, five at UMass), worked under John Calipari as an assistant at UMass before getting the head gig. Flint has deep, old-school recruiting ties in Philadelphia and Boston, especially The City of Brotherly Love, where he grew up and played college ball at St. Joseph’s. Ed Schilling, who recently worked under IU legendary player Steve Alford at UCLA, also joins the staff.
    [B][I]
    Grade: A

    Missouri – In: Cuonzo Martin; Out: Kim Anderson[/I][/B]

    — Anderson inherited a mess and probably didn’t get enough time, but he showed nothing in three seasons to think the program was heading toward the upper tier of the SEC anytime soon. Martin is an excellent hire, assuming he’s going to stick around for an extended period of time. I obviously understood when Martin bolted his first job at Missouri State to take the Tennessee gig after Bruce Pearl was forced out. Again, I could see why he wanted out at UT because the fan base was literally gathering thousands of signatures for a petition to bring Pearl back after Martin had just taken the team to the Sweet 16 (and was one could’ve-gone-either-way charging call from playing in the East Region finals). Martin recruited with the best of ‘em while he was at California for three campaigns, but several one-and-done players netted just one trip to the NCAA Tournament, one trip to the NIT and zero postseason victories. But now Martin has left a school following a brief three-year tenure for the third time. At some point, he turns into a Larry Brown/Bobby Petrino (which is piss-poor form if you ask me) if he so much as entertains another offer in the next 4-5 years.

    Martin has made his mark at Mizzou already, bagging the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect in Michael Porter Jr. last month. This was one of those that LSU’s Dale Brown and Larry Brown (while at Kansas, think Danny Manning’s father, Ed) used to regularly utilize, as Martin hired the prized prospects father, Michael Porter Sr., as an assistant on his staff. Porter Jr. is currently busy trying to lure top-tier recruits in the 2017 class who remain uncommitted. He helped nab one of those on April 11 when four-star guard Blake Harris, who like Porter Jr. was originally a commit to Washington before Lorenzo Romar’s dismissal.

    [B][I]Grade: B+

    San Diego State – In: Brian Dutcher; Out: Steve Fisher[/I][/B]

    — Let’s start with props galore to Fisher, who became a household name in the 1989 NCAA Tournament. When Bill Frieder took the Arizona St. job just before the start of the Tourney, the late/great then-Michigan AD Bo Schembechler famously said, “A Michigan man will coach Michigan.” In other words, Frieder wasn’t sticking around to coach the Wolverines for another minute. Therefore, Fisher was named the interim head coach. After five wins, including a victory over Illinois in the national semifinals at The Kingdome in Seattle, Michigan trailed P.J. Carlesimo’s Seton Hall squad by one in the final seconds of overtime. As Rumeal Robinson penetrated into the lane going right, he was defended by Gerald Greene. John Clougherty came from nearly halfcourt and called what Raftery would term, “small change” or a “nickle-dimer.” Translation: Greene was playing solid defense and for some reason was whistled for a blocking foul even though there was little contact and Robinson was passing the ball to the wing rather than shooting. Anyhow, Robinson hit both free throws and Fisher was given the head job after the Wolverines cut the nets down in Seattle. It would be wrong if I failed to note what an incredible Tournament Glen Rice enjoyed that year, and he had plenty of help from Terry Mills and Loy Vaught in the paint.

    Fisher brought back nearly the entire squad the next season, only to get jettisoned back to Ann Arbor in the Round of 32 when Bo Kimble went for 40-plus points and Jeff Fryer rained down 11 treys in a blowout victory for Paul Westhead’s Loyola-Marymount squad that was playing in honor of its fallen teammate, Hank Gathers. But Fisher, with a lot of help from Dutcher, would bring in the Fab Five and get to two more title games, only to come up short in both. He led the Wolverines to the NIT championship in 1997 but was fired several months later due to the Ed Martin fiasco, which involved players like Robert Traylor and Maurice Taylor receiving illegal benefits.

    Michigan self-imposed sanctions that the NCAA accepted and Fisher wasn’t implicated in any of the wrongdoing. Therefore, he took the San Diego State job in 1999. The Aztecs hadn’t tasted a postseason appearance since the 84-85 campaign. Nobody dreamed Fisher could build a powerhouse or even be slightly competitive with UCLA and USC in recruiting kids from Southern California.

    However, during Fisher’s 18-year tenure, he did just that on the recruiting trail, signing the likes of Kawhi Leonard out of L.A. Fisher took San Diego St. to eight NCAA Tournaments, a pair of Sweet 16’s, five NIT’s and a pair of NIT Final Fours at MSG in NYC.

    With Fisher retiring in early April, the transition to Dutcher will be smooth. He has been Fisher’s top assistant for 27 seasons at both Michigan and SD State. With that said, this is his first head-coaching job.

    [B][I]Grade: C+

    Georgetown – In: Patrick Ewing; Out: John Thompson III[/I][/B]

    — Things had grown stale with JT3 and it was time for a change. Patrick Ewing, Georgetown’s greatest player who led the Hoyas to three national-title games and one championship in 1984, has been paying his dues as an NBA assistant coach since 2003. That’s the good and the bad. Ewing isn’t just a great player that’s going to give coaching a shot. He’s been doing it for well over a decade. However, the 54-year-old Ewing hasn’t been a head coach yet and has been out of the college game since Villanova’s shocking upset win over the Hoyas in the 1985 finals at Rupp Arena. But this is certainly worth a shot! I like the move and, even better, I like the idea of Chris Mullin and Ewing meeting at mid-court before games between St. John’s and Georgetown. Maybe they’ll both wear the same sweater at MSG one night just like Big John and Louie did back in the early ‘80s?

    [B][I]Grade: B+

    LSU – In: Will Wade; Out: Johnny Jones[/I][/B]

    — Jones couldn’t get to the NCAA Tournament with the nation’s best player, Ben Simmons, on his roster two seasons ago. Then the program completely fell apart this past year, enduring a 15-game losing streak on the way to a 10-21 overall record. I like the pick of Will Wade as his replacement. To be clear, though, I’m not a fan of LSU AD Joe Alleva, who spent who knows how much of LSU’s cash to hire a search firm (to do his job) and make this hire. Wade has worked under Tommy Amaker at Harvard and Shaka Smart at VCU. He has four years of head-coaching experience and is only 34 years old. Wade went 40-25 at Chattanooga before landing the VCU gig, where he compiled a 51-20 record (71.8%) and went to consecutive NCAA Tournaments. Wade has already been Coach of the Year in the Southern Conference and the A-10. He has one more assistant left to hire, but the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported on April 11 that Greg Heiar is joining Wade after six years under Gregg Marshall at Wichita State. Heiar also spent five seasons as the head coach at Chipola Junior College in Marianna, Fla. Chipola is a perennial national power in the juco ranks that’s six hours east of New Orleans, so Heiar is familiar with the recruiting areas LSU likes to explore.

    [B][I]Grade: A-

    Illinois: In: Brad Underwood; Out: John Groce[/I][/B]

    — This certainly goes down as the most shocking coaching move of this offseason. Underwood did an outstanding job at Oklahoma State in his first year, shaking off an 0-6 start in Big 12 play to catch fire and get to the NCAA Tournament. The Cowboys fell to Michigan by one, 93-92, in perhaps the most entertaining game of the entire Tourney. Underwood, who was hired after a solid run at Stephen F. Austin, was only making a hair above $1 million per year at OSU. When Illinois came in with a $3 million per year offer, he was obviously interested. Whether or not Underwood allowed OSU the chance to match the offer, something that certainly could’ve happened with T-Boone Pickens’ hundreds of millions, remains unclear. Again, I think spending one year at a school and then bolting to another job is poor form. With that said, I can’t be critical of Underwood without knowing whether or not OSU countered Illinois with a strong offer. If the Cowboys didn’t, then Underwood did what nearly all of us would do – take the raise and new job, wish your co-workers well and get on with it. But that’s irrelevant from Illinois’ view, anyway. The Illini scored a really good coach in Underwood, who has taken all four of his teams as a head coach to the NCAA Tourney. He also won a first-round game twice while at SF Austin and was incredibly close to going to the Sweet 16 two seasons ago when the Lumberjacks let a late lead get away in a gut-wrenching loss to Notre Dame. The defeat against Michigan this year was equally as heartbreaking.

    [B][I]Grade: A-

    New Mexico – In: Paul Weir; Out: Craig Neal
    [/I][/B]
    — ‘Noodles,’ who was best known as being Mark Price’s back-up point guard at Ga. Tech in the early ‘80s, was an assistant under Alford at Iowa and UNM from 2004-2013. Neal went 27-7 in his first season with the Lobos, but they lost in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Since then, UNM has had three down years without a postseason invite. The school parted ways with Neal and went to New Mexico St. and snatched its head coach, Paul Weir, who posted a 28-6 record in his only year as HC for the Aggies after Marvin Menzies bolted for UNLV. UNM could’ve done better, but I’ll be lenient on my grade since it took an in-state rival’s coach.
    [B][I]
    Grade: C[/I][/B]
    [B][I]
    Oklahoma State: In: Mike Boynton Jr.; Out: Brad Underwood[/I][/B]

    — OSU was left hanging when Underwood dipped out of Stillwater. The Cowboys chose to go with a 35-year-old rookie HC in Boynton, who was on Underwood’s staff at OSU and SF Austin. Boynton played at South Carolina and was an assistant for the Gamecocks from 2008-2013. I have no clue how this one will turn out.

    [B][I]Grade: D[/I][/B]
    [B][I]
    North Carolina State In: Kevin Keatts; Out: Mark Gottfried[/I][/B]

    — Everyone knows what you get with Mark Gottfried: great recruiter, extremely shaky game coach. He had some good years at N.C. St., but the school opted to go in another direction. Keatts is 44 and has made a rapid rise from a high school coach to an ACC sideline in only six years. After serving on Rick Pitino’s staff at U of L, Keatts took the UNC-Wilmington job. The Seahawks had been down in the decade following the Brett Blizzard Era. Keatts turned the program back around with the quickness, taking the school to the Tourney in his second and third seasons.
    [B][I]
    Grade: B-[/I][/B]
    [B][I]
    Washington: In: Mike Hopkins; Out: Lorenzo Romar[/I][/B]

    — As noted earlier, UW lost out on two great recruits by pink slipping Romar. Hopkins has been on Jim Boeheim’s staff for 22 years and was the coach in waiting at Syracuse. He’s originally from the West, however, so this isn’t necessarily an instance where the coach will be completely out of his realm recruiting-wise (like Mark Fox was when former Georgia AD Damon ‘Red Panties’ Evans brought him to Athens from Nevada). We’ll see.
    [B][I]
    Grade: C+[/I][/B]
    [B][I]
    California: In: Wyking Jones; Out: Cuonzo Martin[/I][/B]

    — Cal decided to promote from within. The school has been dealing with debt issues, so it wasn’t going to be able to make a high-profile hire by forking out a multi-million dollar contract. Like Hopkins, Jones served under Pitino before joining Martin in Berkeley.
    [B][I]
    Grade: D[/I][/B]

    #435841

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    [B][I]Bagley could make Duke preseason No. 1
    August 14, 2017[/I][/B]

    Top high school prospect Marvin Bagley III has committed to Duke and is eligible to play in the 2017-18 season, immediately making the Blue Devils a top national-title contender.

    Bagley made his announcement on ESPN’s ”SportsCenter” on Monday night.

    The 6-foot-11 Bagley is widely considered the top recruit of the 2018 recruiting class, but last month he petitioned the NCAA to reclassify and become college eligible for the upcoming season.

    Bagley went on campus visits in July to Duke and USC, with UCLA also in the mix.

    Bagley started his high school career at Tempe Corona del Sol High School in Arizona and ended up at Southern California’s Chatsworth Sierra Canyon High School.

    The long, athletic big man will likely be in the mix to be the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft whenever he decides to leave college.

    **********************

    [B][I]Minnesota’s Eric Curry out for season
    August 31, 2017[/I][/B]

    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Minnesota sophomore forward Eric Curry will miss the upcoming season, after injuring his left knee during a pickup game.

    The university announced that Curry tore his ACL, MCL and meniscus Thursday.

    Gophers coach Richard Pitino said the team was ”disheartened by the news” after a ”tremendous summer” on the court by Curry. The native of Memphis, Tennessee, played in all 34 games in a reserve role as a freshman. He was third on the team in rebounds and blocks, averaging 5.5 points and 19.9 minutes per game.

    The Gophers have experience with this kind of setback. Last year, forward Davonte Fitzgerald tore the ACL and damaged cartilage in his left knee during a noncontact drill in a preseason practice.

    ***********************

    [B][I]Sid Williams to transfer from St. John’s
    August 29, 2017[/I][/B]

    NEW YORK (AP) Sid Wilson, a New York City high school star, has requested to transfer from St. John’s before his freshman season starts.

    St. John’s has granted the 6-foot-7 Wilson permission to speak with other Division I programs.

    Before signing with St. John’s in May, Wilson spent his senior year at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire, where he helped lead the Bobcats to the 2017 National Prep Championship. He previously attended St. Raymond in the Bronx.

    ”We know this was not an easy decision for Sid, so we are supportive of him as he strives to find the right fit,” St. John’s coach Chris Mullin said. ”He is a good person and talented player who we wish the best as he begins his new journey.”

    #452239

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    Maryland season preview capsule
    October 26, 2017

    Maryland season preview capsule

    Maryland

    Last season: 24-9, lost to Xavier in first round of NCAA Tournament.

    Nickname: Terrapins.

    Coach: Mark Turgeon.

    Conference: Big Ten.

    Who’s gone: G Melo Trimble, C Damonte Dodd, F L.G. Gill.

    Who’s back: F Justin Jackson. The sophomore was second in scoring behind Trimble with 10.5 points a game and averaged a team-high 6.0 rebounds. Also led team with .438 shooting percentage from 3-point range; G Kevin Huerter. The sophomore started all 33 games, averaging 9.3 points and 4.9 rebounds a game. Led Terrapins with 19 points against Xavier in NCAA Tournament; C Michal Cekovsky. The 7-foot-1 Slovakian appeared in 17 games as a junior, earning starts in four before fractured ankle in mid-February sidelined him for remainder of season; G Anthony Cowan. Sophomore was third on team in scoring at 10.3 points a game, led Maryland in assists and was third in minutes played. Started all 33 games as a freshman; F Ivan Bender. The 6-9 junior played in 32 games, including five starts. Shot 66 percent from floor.

    Who’s new: F Bruno Fernando. The 6-10, four-star recruit played for Angola at the 2014 U-17 FIBA World Championships and averaged 9.1 points and 10.6 rebounds; F Sean Obi. Played as freshman at Rice, and sophomore and junior at Duke. Appeared in 10 games for Blue Devils in 2015-16 before an injury ended his season; G Darryl Morsell. First Baltimore high school player to sign with Maryland since Turgeon took over in 2011 is a stopper on defensive end of court.

    The Skinny: The Terrapins look to continue their recent run of success without Trimble, who left for the NBA draft after his junior season. If Huerter, Cowan and Jackson can score and provide leadership, this young team can develop quickly, be a contender in the Big Ten and extend its run of NCAA Tournament appearances to four.

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    Indiana Preview Capsule
    October 26, 2017

    Indiana Preview Capsule

    Indiana

    Last season: 18-16, lost at Georgia Tech in the first round of the NIT.

    Nickname: Hoosiers.

    Coach: Archie Miller.

    Conference: Big Ten.

    Who’s gone: Coach Tom Crean, F OG Anunoby, G James Blackmon Jr., C Thomas Bryant.

    Who’s back: G Robert Johnson. After withdrawing from the NBA draft, the senior will take on an expanded role as he tries to improve his numbers (12.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game). G Josh Newkirk. The clear choice at point guard returns for his third and final season with the Hoosiers. He’s hoping to cut down on the turnovers and take on a bigger scoring role (9.0 ppg last season). F De’Ron Davis. The 6-foot-10 forward lost about 20 pounds this offseason with the hope he will stay in better condition and commit fewer fouls when he starts getting tired.

    Who’s new: F Clifton Moore. While it’s unclear which member of this four-player freshman class could have the biggest impact, Moore provides the Hoosiers one quality they lack – size. He and Davis are the only players on the roster taller than 6-9.

    The Skinny: Miller’s first Indiana team may not have all the pieces but it does have enough backcourt talent and potential on the front line to become a factor in the Big Ten race. Expect it to take time for the players to get in sync with Miller’s new system, and an early four-game run with Duke, Michigan, Iowa and Louisville won’t help. But a postseason bid is a reasonable possibility.

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    Wisconsin Preview Capsule
    October 26, 2017

    Wisconsin Preview Capsule

    Wisconsin

    Last season: 27-10; lost to Florida in regional semifinals of NCAA Tournament

    Nickname: Badgers

    Coach: Greg Gard

    Conference: Big Ten

    Who’s gone: F Nigel Hayes, F Vitto Brown, G Bronson Koenig, G Zak Showalter, G Jordan Hill

    Who’s back: F Ethan Happ (14.0 points, 9.0 rebounds) is the lone returning starter. One of the toughest big-man matchups in the country with his athleticism, one of Happ’s only weaknesses is a lack of an outside shot. G D’Mitrik Trice (5.6 points) hit 41 percent from 3-point territory off the bench as a freshman last season. He has the poise to take over the point guard job from Koenig. G Brevin Pritzl will get a shot to show off his 3-point range with more regular minutes. Swingman Khalil Iverson’s strength is athleticism in the paint.

    Who’s new: A promising three-member freshman class could be called on to contribute early, especially Gs Kobe King and Brad Davison. The athletic, 6-foot-4 King was the unanimous prep player of the year in Wisconsin last season. The hustling Davison could be the next player that Badgers fans love and opponents hate to face.

    The Skinny: A transition year for Wisconsin. The talent is there, but the Badgers lack the experience that fueled the program to new heights over the last five years. A summer exhibition trip of Australia and New Zealand did help with developing chemistry. A return to the NCAA Tournament will depend on 3-point shooting and how the supporting cast develops around Happ.

    #452243

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    Rutgers Preview Capsule
    October 26, 2017

    RUTGERS

    Last season: 15-18, ties most wins since 2012-13.

    Nickname: Scarlet Knights.

    Coach: Steve Pikiell.

    Conference: Big Ten.

    Who’s gone: C C.J. Gettys, G Nigel Johnson (graduate transfer, Virginia), F Jonathan Laurent, G Khalil Batie, C Ibrahima Diallo.

    Who’s back: G Corey Sanders. The junior led the Scarlet Knights with team-high 12.8; F Deshawn Freeman. Athletic senior averaged 11.1 points in 33 games; G Mike Williams. The streaky shooting guard averaged 9.4 points. Fs Candido Sa, Issa Thiam, Shaquille Doorson and Eugene Omoruyi all played in 30-plus games last season but were minor contributors.

    Who’s new: G Soug Mensah. Junior college transfer will provide depth at guard. Freshmen F Mamadou Doucoure and C Myles Johnson give Rutgers big bodies up front. The 6-foot-9 Doucoure averaged 11 points, 14 rebounds and 3.0 blocks as a senior at Our Savior New American School on Long Island. The 6-10 Johnson played at Long Beach (California) Polytechnic High School. He had eight points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks against a nationally-ranked Chino Hills in the playoffs. Freshman G Geo Baker will get playing time.

    The Skinny: Rutgers has not been to the NCAA Tournament since 1991, the year Pikiell started his coaching career as an assistant at Connecticut. The Scarlet Knights have been picked to finish last in the conference. Getting more than three conference wins the season would be an improvement. Making the NIT for the first time since 2006 would be a major success.

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    Iowa Preview Capsule
    October 26, 2017

    Iowa Preview Capsule

    Iowa

    Last season: 19-15.

    Nickname: Hawkeyes.

    Coach: Fran McCaffery.

    Conference: Big Ten.

    Who’s gone: G Peter Jok.

    Who’s back: Everybody else, including PG Jordan Bohannon. He averaged nearly 11 points a game last season as a freshman and finished with three straight double-doubles in postseason play. F Tyler Cook (12.3 points, 5.3 rebounds) was up and down as a newcomer a year ago but could emerge as one of the Big Ten’s breakout stars. F Nicholas Baer was the league’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2016-17, but it’s uncertain if he will move into the starting lineup.

    Who’s new: C Luka Garza, a freshman, was Iowa’s best player during a summer tour through Europe and is expected to start. C Jack Nunge, also a freshman, should also see extended minutes in the Hawkeyes’ rebuilt frontcourt.

    The Skinny: Iowa will miss Jok’s 19.9 points per game. But If Bohannon and Cook improve as expected and Garza and Nunge solidify the frontcourt, Iowa will likely make a push for a top-five league finish and return to the NCAA Tournament. The Hawkeyes have as many as 12 guys who can play at the Division I level, and McCaffery will have his hands full keeping everyone happy.

    #452245

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    Ohio State Preview Capsule
    October 26, 2017

    Ohio State Preview Capsule

    Ohio State

    Last season: 17-15, 7-11 Big Ten

    Nickname: Buckeyes

    Conference: Big Ten

    Who’s gone: G JaQuan Lyle, C Trevor Thompson, F Marc Loving, C David Bell.

    Who’s back: F Jae’Sean Tate. Senior is a fine small forward who led the team in scoring last year; F Keita Bates-Diop. Red-shirt junior missed most of last season with an injury in the ninth game. Averaged 11.8 points and 6.4 rebounds as a sophomore; C Micah Potter. Sophomore will have to step up as starting center after backing up Thompson last season. G C.J. Jackson. Junior will be counted on as the primary ball-handler as one of two point guards on the roster; G Kam Williams. Redshirt senior will start at two-guard spot. F Andre Wesson. Small forward played off the bench as a freshman.

    Who’s new: G Andrew Dakich. Graduate transfer from Michigan will back up Jackson at point guard; F Kaleb Wesson. Andre’s brother is 6-foot-9 and will be expected to play right away. May be better than his brother; G Musa Jallow. Freshman small forward who Holtmann had pursued while still with Butler. F Kyle Young. Freshman committed to Butler but followed Holtmann to Ohio State. Long wing player will provide some depth.

    The Skinny: New coach Chris Holtmann is trying to right a program that fell into disarray in Thad Matta’s last couple of seasons. All five players in the 2015 recruiting class transferred out, leaving little depth. Tate, Bates-Diop and Jackson will feel the pressure to pace the club without much experience on the bench behind them. Freshmen are going to have contribute. Potter has got to be more physical in the middle. Even Holtmann acknowledges that it’s probably going to be a tough season.

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    Nebraska Preview Capsule
    October 26, 2017

    Nebraska Preview Capsule

    Nebraska

    Last season: 12-19, third straight season with no postseason appearance.

    Nickname: Cornhuskers.

    Coach: Tim Miles.

    Conference: Big Ten.

    Who’s gone: G Tai Webster, F Ed Morrow Jr. (transfer to Marquette), F Michael Jacobson (transfer to Iowa State), F Jeriah Horne (transfer to Tulsa), F Nick Fuller (graduate transfer at South Dakota).

    Who’s back: G Glynn Watson. The junior is the only returning player who averaged in double figures (13.0 points per game), and his 1.6 steals a game ranked third in the Big Ten. G Evan Taylor. The senior started the last 21 games. G Anton Gill. The senior returns after rupturing the patella tendon in his right knee on Dec. 25. F Jack McVeigh. The junior dropped out of the rotation in January but re-emerged as a key contributor off the bench. F Isaiah Roby. Played only 15 minutes a game but was third on team with 25 blocked shots; C Jordy Tshimanga. The 6-foot-11, 268-pound sophomore averaged 7.4 points and 5.9 rebounds in last 11 games.

    Who’s new: G-F James Palmer. The junior transfer from Miami scored a team-high 17 points in 23 minutes of a charity exhibition at Mississippi State. F Isaac Copeland. The junior transfer from Georgetown provides strength and athleticism near the basket. C Duby Okeke. Grad transfer from Winthrop gives Huskers a much-needed rim protector. G Thomas Allen. The freshman was top-100 recruit. G Thorir Thorbjarnarson. Freshman comes out of Iceland’s national team program.

    The Skinny: This is a huge season for Miles, who’s 75-86 in five years and hasn’t finished higher than 11th in the Big Ten the last three years. The program hasn’t made the postseason since a late run in 2014 produced an NCAA Tournament appearance. Some key additions give Miles hope a move up in Big Ten is possible.

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    Northwestern Preview Capsule
    October 26, 2017

    Northwestern Preview Capsule

    Northwestern

    Last season: 24-12, lost to Gonzaga in NCAA round of 32.

    Nickname: Wildcats.

    Coach: Chris Collins.

    Conference: Big Ten.

    Who’s gone: F Sanjay Lumpkin.

    Who’s back: G Bryant McIntosh. A preseason all-Big Ten pick, the senior averaged a team-high 14.8 points last season and tied for the conference lead in assists at 5.2 per game; G Scottie Lindsey. Like McIntosh, a preseason all-conference pick after averaging 14.1 points; F Vic Law. A Big Ten all-defensive team pick last season, he was the Wildcats’ third-leading scoring and second-leading rebounder; F Dererk Pardon. He ranked second in the conference in field goal percentage (.611), fourth in blocks (1.8 per game) and seventh in rebounding (8.0 rpg).

    Who’s new: G Anthony Gaines is the lone incoming freshman.

    The Skinny: The Wildcats are balanced and experienced and hungry for more coming off the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance.

    #452249

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    Purdue Preview Capsule
    October 26, 2017

    Purdue Preview Capsule

    Purdue

    Last season: 27-8; lost to Kansas in NCAA Tournament regional semifinals

    Nickname: Boilermakers.

    Coach: Matt Painter.

    Conference: Big Ten.

    Who’s gone: F Caleb Swanigan, F Basil Smotherman, G Spike Albrecht.

    Who’s back: F Vincent Edwards. The senior preseason all-conference selection might be the Boilermakers’ best overall player. He can shoot (48.6 percent), score (12.6), rebound (4.9) and defend. G Carsen Edwards. As a freshman, the other Edwards – no relation to Vincent – led Purdue in assists (133) and was tied for the team-high in steals (36). This year, he’ll be asked to increase his scoring average from 10.6 points. C Isaac Haas. The 7-foot-2 senior averaged 12.6 points and 5.0 rebounds in just 19.5 minutes last season. With Swanigan off to the NBA, Haas is likely to log more minutes if he stays out of foul trouble.

    Who’s new: F Matt Haarms. The redshirt freshman used last season to try and add strength. Now the 7-foot-3 Dutch native could fill the role Haas had over the last couple of seasons off the bench. If the Boilermakers play Haas and Haarms together, they could have the biggest front line in the nation.

    The Skinny: Yes, the defending Big Ten champs lost the conference player of the year (Swanigan). But they are hardly bereft of talent. Painter has four starters and six of his top seven scorers back. With size, versatility, tournament experience and a team that knows how to defend, look for the four seniors to keep the Boilermakers at or near the top of the conference standings.

    #452250

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    Illinois Preview Capsule
    October 26, 2017

    Illinois Preview Capsule

    Illinois

    Last season: 20-15 overall, 8-10 in the Big Ten.

    Nickname: Fighting Illini.

    Coach: Brad Underwood.

    Conference: Big Ten.

    Who’s gone: G Malcolm Hill, G Tracy Abrams, G Jalen-Coleman Lands (transfer), G D.J. Williams (transfer), G Jaylon Tate, G Alex Austin C Maverick Morgan, C Mike Thorne Jr.

    Who’s back: G Te’Jon Lucas. Last season, the sophomore was fifth in the Big Ten in turnover ratio during conference games. F Michael Finke. He shot 44.9 percent from behind the arc during conference play, ranking him eighth in the Big Ten. F Leron Black. Black had elbow surgery during the preseason, but is expected to be healthy for the season opener. He led the team in rebounding at 6.3 per game. F. Kipper Nichols. After sitting out the fall due to NCAA transfer rules, he appeared in 21 games for the Illini. He averaged 5.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game in Big Ten play.

    Who’s new: G Mark Smith. Smith was named the 2017 Mr. Basketball of Illinois after leading Edwardsville to a 30-2 record. G Trent Frazier. Frazier is a consensus four-star recruit from Florida. He averaged just over 27 points per game during his senior season. G. Da’Monte Williams. Williams played just three seasons during his senior year of high school due to an ACL tear. However, he did average 25.6 points per game for Peoria Manual. G Mark Alstork.

    The Skinny: In Underwood’s first season, the Illini have the chance to make it to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five years. In his four years at Stephen F. Austin and Oklahoma State, Underwood never missed the tournament. In one year at Oklahoma State, Underwood showed that he can put together one of the best offenses in the country. If he can do the same at Illinois, Illini fans could finally enjoy a meaningful postseason appearance.

    #452251

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    Michigan State Preview-Capsule
    October 26, 2017

    Michigan State Preview-Capsule

    Michigan State

    Last season: 20-15, lost to Kansas in NCAA round of 32.

    Nickname: Spartans.

    Coach: Tom Izzo

    Conference: Big Ten.

    Who’s gone: G Eron Harris, G Alvin Ellis, F Matt Van Dyk.

    Who’s back: Four of the top five and eight of the top 10 scorers from last season. F Miles Bridges turned down a chance to be an NBA lottery pick to return for his sophomore season. Bridges is the Big Ten preseason player of the year and a national player of the year candidate. F Nick Ward averaged nearly 14 points and six-plus rebounds as a freshman, trailing only Bridges on the team. Ward joined Bridges on the preseason All-Big Ten team.

    Who’s new: F Jaren Jackson and F Xavier Tillman are talented enough as freshmen to be key players on a loaded team. The 6-11, 242-pound Jackson is projected by some as top-five pick in the 2018 NBA draft. Izzo said the 6-8, 260-pound Tillman was the biggest surprise in early practices.

    The Skinny: Izzo, a Hall of Fame coach, has a good shot to win his second national championship, reach his eighth Final Four and win his first Big Ten regular season title since 2012.

    #452252

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    Minnesota Preview Capsule
    October 26, 2017

    Minnesota Preview Capsule

    Minnesota

    Last season: 24-10, lost to Middle Tennessee in first round of NCAA Tournament.

    Nickname: Golden Gophers.

    Coach: Richard Pitino

    Conference: Big Ten.

    Who’s gone: SG Akeem Springs: He had a team-high 67 made 3-pointers in his lone season at Minnesota as a graduate transfer.

    Who’s back: PG Nate Mason: The senior was among 20 point guards in the country named to the preseason Bob Cousy Award watch list after being named first team All-Big Ten for 2016-17. SF Amir Coffey: The Big Ten All-Freshman Team pick from last season and the son of former Gophers standout Richard Coffey has only scratched the surface with his inside-outside, two-way ability. PF Jordan Murphy: The team’s leading rebounder averaged 11.3 points per game last season. C Reggie Lynch: The Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year set a new single-season Gophers record with 114 blocked shots.

    Who’s new: PG Isaiah Washington: The Mr. New York Basketball award winner as the top player in the state, he was a consensus top-100 recruit. PF Davonte Fitzgerald: The fifth-year junior has two seasons of eligibility left after sitting out two years, one for a transfer from Texas A&M and one after an ACL tear and other damage to his left knee from an offseason practice.

    The Skinny: Coming off a 16-win turnaround from 2015-16 and the first NCAA Tournament appearance since Pitino took over in 2013, bringing all but Springs back from their top seven scorers from last season, hopes are the highest this program has had in 20 years. Staying healthy will be the key. PF Eric Curry, who made meaningful contributions as a freshman backup, injured his left knee in an offseason pickup game and will redshirt this season.

    #452253

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    Michigan Preview Capsule
    October 26, 2017

    Michigan Preview Capsule

    Michigan

    Last season: 26-12, won Big Ten Tournament and reached NCAA Sweet 16.

    Nickname: Wolverines.

    Coach: John Beilein.

    Conference: Big Ten.

    Who’s gone: G Derrick Walton, F D.J. Wilson, G-F Zak Irvin, F Mark Donnal.

    Who’s back: F Moe Wagner. After considering jump to NBA, Wagner is back at Michigan as team’s top returning player; G Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman. Enters senior season with plenty of experience after starting 37 games in 2016-17; G-F Duncan Robinson. Shot 44 percent from 3-point range in first two seasons at Michigan. G Zavier Simpson. Averaged 8.7 minutes a game as freshman last season, backing up Walton.

    Who’s new: G Jaaron Simmons. Graduate transfer from Ohio averaged 17.2 points last season for one of top teams in Mid-American Conference; G Charles Matthews. Kentucky transfer now eligible after sitting out last season, could give Michigan some athleticism on wing. G Eli Brooks. Averaged 29.7 points as high school senior in 2016-17.

    The Skinny: Michigan has a lot to replace, but Simmons and Matthews already have Division I experience, so the transition may not be too bumpy for Beilein’s team. Losing Wilson to the NBA was a blow, but Wagner’s return means the Wolverines are still a team to watch in the Big Ten. Their early schedule is an intriguing one with trips to North Carolina and Texas and a home game against UCLA.

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