No Sleep Till Football

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Big 10 Basketball – Coaching Grades

I’m using the same metrics as I did before as I outlined in the post giving grades out to the SEC coaches. This time I’m going after the Big 10.

Team Coach Record W% Talent Experience
Purdue Matt Painter 26-4 .867 5 3
Ohio St. Thad Matta 24-7 .774 2 1
Michigan St. Tom Izzo 24-7 .774 1 5
Wisconsin Bo Ryan 23-7 .767 3 2
Northwestern Bill Carmody 19-12 .613 10 9
Minnesota Tubby Smith 18-12 .600 7 4
Illinois Bruce Weber 18-13 .581 6 6
Michigan John Beilein 14-16 .467 4 7
Penn St. Ed DeChellis 11-19 .367 11 8
Indiana Tom Crean 10-20 .333 8 10
Iowa Todd Lickliter 10-21 .323 9 11

And now for the report cards!

Purdue – Matt Painter/Grade = A

This is Painter’s best team since he’s been in West Lafayette and the coach didn’t disappoint. Purdue had a great mix of talent and experience from which to work from and the 26-4 record shows how dominant of a team it can be. Purdue was fighting for a #1 seed in the NCAA before star forward Robbie Hummel tore his ACL. It didn’t disrupt Purdue too much. If you count the Minnesota game, Purdue went 3-1 in the games Hummel missed. There is still a shot for Purdue, but I think they have to win the Big 10 tournament and finish 29-4 and hope Duke & Syracuse get bounced early from their tournaments. At this point I don’t see how Kansas or Kentucky lose out on a #1 seed. Painter has put together an outstanding defensive squad. They are worse off offensively without Hummel obviously but the defensive tenacity will still be there for them when the going gets tough. Painter actually flirts with an “A+” grade here, but the loss to Northwestern in the middle of the year and their lack of 3-pt shooting put the Boilermakers a tick below the A+ level. Interestingly enough, if Hummel comes back 100% next season and Purdue doesn’t see JaJuan Johnson bolt to the NBA, they’ll be even better.

Ohio St. – Thad Matta/Grade = A

I don’t know what else Matta could have done in Columbus this season. With should be player of the year, the Buckeyes were 21-4, without him they were 3-3. The 4 losses were to North Carolina early (before injuries killed them), on the road to Minnesota, on the road at West Virginia and at home to Purdue before Robbie Hummel got injured. Even the 3-3 mark without Turner didn’t have horrible losses on them. The 3 losses were road games against Butler, Wisconsin & Michigan. Ohio St. is in the best position they can be. They are the odds on favorite to win the Big 10 conference championship. They’ll do no worse than a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament and they have the best player in college basketball suiting up for them. They are an excellent defensive team and terribly efficient on offense. They could hit the offensive glass a bit better and shoot their FTs better, but that’s being terribly picky. Ohio St. also has some solid wins over California, Florida St., Purdue, Wisconsin & Michigan St. Right now there is no way a team like North Carolina or Butler beats them.

Michigan St. – Tom Izzo/Grade = A-

Izzo did a great job as he always does, but I think even he would say the 24-7 record is probably a bit beneath the Spartans. Michigan St. didn’t really have any solid wins against non-conference teams. They did beat Gonzaga early, but that was a home game and it was close. Michigan St. lost their other two big non-conferences games to Florida & Texas. The bottom line is that Michigan St. is far too good to lose to Florida on a neutral floor and they are way better than Illinois so losing to the Illini on the road seems odd. The win over Purdue late in West Lafayette was even a bit odd as the Boilers were without Hummel and nobody really played well in that game. Kalin Lucas was hurt in early February when Sparty went on their 3-game skid. I don’t want to be too hard on Izzo here. An A- is a solid grade and he did deal with the Lucas injury and Raymar Morgan not having the scintillating senior year everyone thought he might have. This is a team that still could very well find themselves in the Elite-8. Despite being the most talented team, this was of average experience within the conference. It sounds crazy with both Purdue & Michigan St., but both of those teams (although they are a combined 50-11) are going to be even better next season.

Wisconsin – Bo Ryan/Grade = B

It kills me to give Ryan a “B” grade after a 23-7 season, but unfortunately there is reason for it. This is an incredible basketball team. It is one of the few squads in the nation that is both a top-9 team in offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency. The only other teams that can say that are Duke & Kansas. Duke is 26-5 while Kansas is 29-2. Statistically this the best team in the Big 10. The team’s basketball IQ is literally off the charts. They are exceptionally patient, great on defense, will not commit turnovers and shoots free throws with the best of them. It’s not a ball hawking type of defense that a Missouri, Clemson or even Purdue plays, but they make you miss. So why the “B”? If you can beat teams like Duke, Marquette, Michigan St., Purdue & Ohio St. then you certainly should be able to beat teams like Gonzaga, Wisconsin-GB, Illinois & Minnesota. Losing on the road to Michigan St., Ohio St. & Purdue is understandable, but a home game to Illinois? At the very least this team should be 27-3 record and an argument could be made that they are closer to 28-2 than 23-7. In his latest Bracketology, Joe Lunardi has Wisconsin as a #4 seed! WOW! To me I think Wisconsin fell a bit below expectations and their exceptionally slow plodding style puts them at a B level.

Northwestern – Bill Carmody/Grade = A

Like Indiana & Iowa, Northwestern had the worst combination of talent & experience. Unlike Indiana & Iowa, Northwestern was close to winning 20 games instead of losing 20 like the Hoosiers & Hawkeyes did. Carmody had the Wildcats 10-1 before starting Big 10 play. Outside the Big 10, Northwestern was 12-1 with pretty good wins over Notre Dame, Iowa St., NC State and Stanford. Northwestern even managed an incredible home win over Purdue and added another home victory over Minnesota. What kept Carmody from the “A+” grade were a few losses. Northwestern lost road games to Indiana & Iowa, two teams who clearly didn’t play as well as Northwestern for the better part of the year. The other problem I had with Northwestern was they were swept by Penn St. You could easily argue NW should have beaten Iowa & Indiana and at least broke even with Penn St. Those 3 games right there pushes Northwestern to 22-9 instead of 19-12. Those three games were probably the difference between Northwestern making their first ever NCAA Tournament and them being left out once again. If Northwestern exacts revenge on Indiana in the 1st round of the Big 10 tournament, they’ll get their 20th win and almost certain invite to the NIT. The team might not be the most talented, but they are as well coached as any team in the nation. Given the youth of this team, they’ll only get better.

Now take that analysis and realize that I didn’t even mention Northwestern playing every single one of their games without their best player in Kevin Coble! Coble would have been a senior but he’ll redshirt and get his senior year back at Northwestern next season. If Carmody would have had Coble, by guess is that Northwestern is in the NCAA tournament and I’m giving Carmody an “A+” grade.

Minnesota – Tubby Smith/Grade = B

Tubby Smith gets a solid “B” for getting the Gophers to an 18-12 mark. If anything, this team probably underachieved a bit as they were in the upper tier when it came to experience. Statistically there is really no weak spot on this Gophers team. They are efficient on both offense and defense and they are a team with a lot of size. It would have been interesting for Smith to run more sets with both Ralph Sampson & Colton Iverson in the game at the same time. There were really no terrible losses on the schedule although they probably should have beaten Portland. They also have wins over Butler, Wisconsin & Ohio St. They did lose to both Indiana & Northwestern on the road in OT. They probably shouldn’t have been blown out by Michigan. When Minnesota is on, they can hang with anyone and this is yet another Big 10 team that should be better next season. It’ll be interesting to see how well the Big 10 teams do in the post season tournaments. I think Minnesota is better than 18-12, but with the Big 10 being so solid up top, there aren’t a lot of places to go to for victories.

Illinois – Bruce Weber/Grade = C-

Illinois finished 18-13 and normally I wouldn’t consider giving Weber a “C-” because the team was below average in both talent (6th out of 11) and experience (6th out of 11). However, a closer look points to how disappointing this team really was. They had early season losses to Utah, Bradley & Georgia. All of them should have been banked on as a win for the Illini. They also lost an early Big 10 game at Northwestern. After the loss to NW, Illinois stood at 12-8 (4-3). They then went on a tear winning 5 straight including a road win over Michigan St. and a home win over Wisconsin. That put Illinois at 17-8 (9-3) and everything looked like Illinois was poised to get a high seed and threaten to be a big player for a Big 10 championship. Then the bottom dropped out. They lose 5 of their last 6, finish 18-13 (10-8) and are on a huge bubble for the NCAA Tournament. Right now Lunardi has them in, but they’ll take on Wisconsin which probably means finishing at 18-14 and on the outside looking in. I want to give Weber a break and notice that if Illinois does finish 18-14 after starting 17-8, they’ll have lost 6 of their last 7, but those 6 losses were to Ohio St. (twice), Purdue, Minnesota & Wisconsin (twice). Their schedule was massively backloaded which hurt them, but losing to Minnesota at home was the death of them. I’m tempted to go D+ on this one simply because they took a huge fall at the end, but the whims of the schedule hammered Weber. And Illinois didn’t just lose there final few games. They were blown out.

Michigan – John Beilein/Grade = D-

Horribly disappointing year for the Wolverines. Most of the preseason publications had Michigan in the top-25 if not the top-20. Bleacher Report had the Wolverines as the #11 team in the nation preseason. Andy Katz in his way too early preseason top-25 for 2009-2010 had Michigan as the 9th best team in the nation! It was even more disappointing because Beilein got pretty lucky with both Manny Harris and Deshawn Sims coming back to Ann Arbor for one more year. Next season they won’t have Deshawn Sims and also lose senior Zack Gibson. Beileis no size coming back next season. NBA Draft Express has Harris as a low 2nd-round pick in this year’s NBA Draft which would make you think he might want to come back for his senior season, but I’m guessing he’ll bolt as Michigan should be one of the weaker teams in the Big 10 next season if not the weakest outright. Beilein could have really used this season to gain momentum, but it all went downhill. He’s 1-3-1 zone still gave opponents fits, but this was a perimeter jump shooting team and they were horrific at it. You simply don’t win games that way.

Penn St. – Ed DeChellis/Grade = C+

I really love with DeChellis is doing at Penn St. but going 11-19 is a little much. He’s working with the least amount of talent in the Big 10 while that “talent” isn’t even very experienced. PSU lost significant contributions from last season in the forms of Jamelle Cornley, Stanley Pringle & Danny Morrissey. That’s a lot to compensate for, but going from 27-11 and NIT champions to 11-19 and scraping the bottom of the Big 10 seems like a jump. I don’t want to knock DeChellis too hard because he didn’t have much to work with, but this team was a turnover machine and had some losses that are hard to explain. Losing to UNC-Wilmington & Tulane in back-to-back games is inexcusable. They also shouldn’t have lost to Indiana at home and probably should have beaten Iowa in their only meeting. They did manage to beat Virginia and Northwestern twice, but not a lot of wins to go around. Losing that much experience is difficult to overcome, but I don’t know. Those 4 games makes them 15-15, which would have put him in the “B” range. The Big 10 is tough this season when you think about it. It’s hard to fault PSU losing to the likes of Purdue, Wisconsin, Michigan St., & Ohio St.

Indiana = Tom Crean/Grade = C-

I know Indiana more than the other teams in the Big 10. The situation is terrible so on the one hand you simply can’t be too hard on Crean. In fact you almost have to commend the guy for taking the job in the first place. On the other hand there were certainly some headscratchers out there. Indiana finished 10-20 with their season finale win over Northwestern which was a huge boost for Hoosier Nation. However, Indiana should have had losses to Boston, George Mason and Loyola (MD) if they are able to bear the likes of Pittsburgh & Northwestern. Indiana is also a turnover machine when it comes to playing and they really don’t shoot that well. I think it took Crean WAY TOO long to figure out going to the 2-3 zone was dynamite and he didn’t give near enough minutes to Derek Elston. He kept playing Jeremiah Rivers despite Rivers not being good enough to play with the AAU squad and I think he should have sunk or swam with Jordan Hulls running point. The Hoosiers also shouldn’t have been swept by Iowa. It simply feels like Crean left a lot of wins on the table for Indiana. Going from 6 wins to 10 wins is pretty nice given Indiana’s situation after the Kelvin Sampson fiasco and I think there is a possibility that Indiana could win a couple of games in the Big 10 tournament. Still, there has to be at least a whiff of disappointment among even the most ardent of Crean defenders.

Iowa – Todd Lickliter/Grade = C+

The absolute worst comination of talent & experience in the Big 10, Todd Lickliter had to deal with more roster turnover and health problems of his own. I was tempted to give Lickliter a “B-” but early in the season Iowa lost back-to-back games against UT-San Antonio & Duquesne at home which hurts a bit. Iowa did manage to sweep Indiana and even got wins over Northwestern & Penn St., but there was no denying this was going to be a tough year for Iowa. Finishing 10-21 isn’t the best thing in the world, but this is finally a team that wants to play for Lickliter and Iowa and they are still woefully young. Unlike Indiana, I don’t think there were that many wins for the taking. Outside of the two losses at the beginning of the year, Iowa won the games they were supposed to and lost the games they were supposed to. At least they have that going for them.


Matt Painter – A
Thad Matta – A
Bill Carmody – A
Tom Izzo – A-
Bo Ryan – B
Tubby Smith – B
Todd Lickliter – C+
Ed DeChellis – C+
Tom Crean – C-
Bruce Weber – C-
John Beilein – D-


March 10, 2010 - Posted by | Basketball, Big 10

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