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OT: Looking Back at 2009-2010 Big 10 Basketball

I did a study last year of looking at college basketball teams based on talent & experience. I used both of those factors & then judged the coaches on how well they did based on those two criteria. I ranked each team within their own division and then used those metrics as my basis of study in order to compare team to team within their respective conference. Here is how I measured both:

Experience: I used Ken Pomeroy’s rankings of experience for all the teams in the NCAA. Pomeroy ranks experience for every team in division one, but for my purposes I used experience relative to conference. That gets a bit tricky as a team could be 8th in experience within the conference but be the 8th most experienced team while the 9th rated team in the conference according to experience doesn’t look like it would be that less experienced than the 8th, but the 9th team was actually the team ranked 300th in experience throughout the NCAA.

Talent: I used how many stars the Rivals Recruiting Service game each player and then weighted those stars based on minutes played. For example if you had 2 5-star recruits, 1 4-star recruit, and 2 3-star recruits playing the entire game for your team, the team’s overall talent level would be that of a 4.0 star basketball team.

With that said, here is how the teams rank from the Big 10 from the 2009-2010 season. Note that the Talent is expressed as: 3.3-#5 which means the average star value of the team based on weighted minutes & where that value puts them within the conference.

Team Rec Talent Exp Comments
29-6 3.3-#5 #3 Great mix of talent & experience for Purdue last season. You could almost argue that the Boilermakers overachieved a bit with a 29-6 record. Losing Robbie Hummel was a significant blow because Purdue had nobody on the roster who could step in & replace him. For the most part Patrick Bade tried to step in, but if Hummel doesn’t get injured then Purdue’s experience & talent rankings probably go up a bit. A 29-6 record is fantastic & Purdue got to the Sweet 16. Matt Painter is doing an outstanding job in West Lafayette, and he has to. This year Purdue is once again without Robbie Hummel which means a potential national championship is out of reach before the season even starts.
29-8 3.7-#2 #1 Ohio St. had an almost perfect blend of talent & experience last year. Heading into the Big 10 tournament, Ohio St. was only 24-7 which seems a bit disappointing. However, they did go on to win the Big 10 Tournament & then get to the Sweet 16 before losing to Tennessee. Given what Ohio St. had to work with they should have gotten to the Final 4 especially when top-seeded Kansas was knocked off. There is a little bit of perception that HC Thad Matta is an incredible recruiter, but that is his coaching ability will never be good enough to win a national championship. The only player Ohio St. lost who played significant minutes is Evan Turner & the Buckeyes have a truckload of talent coming in. Matta has to get it done at some point?
28-9 3.9-#1 #5 Tom Izzo took an extremely talented but relatively young team to the Final 4 last yeas before losing in the national semifinals in a close game to Butler. The season wore on the Spartans as it progressed. They were 5-4 in their last 9 conference games & then lost to Minnesota in the first round of the Big 10 tournament. They did rebound big time in the NCAAs & it sure seemed like Izzo thought his team got robbed in the 52-50 loss to Butler in the Final 4. Michigan St. only lost Delvon Roe & Chris Allen so their big minute eaters are for the most part back & Izzo has another solid recruiting class coming in. They’ll maintain their status as most talented team in the Big 10, but they’ll also be one of the most experienced meaning Izzo probably finds himself back in the Final 4.
24-9 3.5-#3 #2 I love Bo Ryan as a head coach but Wisconsin’s 09-10 season has to be thought of as a major disappointment. They were almost perfectly balanced with talent & experience much like Ohio St., but the 13-5 in the Big 10 seems a bit disappointing. The Badgers then lost their 1st Big 10 tournament game before heading into the NCAAs where they barely beat Wofford before losing by 18-points to Cornell! The Badgers are going to take some hits with experience & talent because they lose both Trevon Hughes & Jason Bohannon which are significant losses. This year Jon Leuer is going to have to stay healthy & Wisconsin will need Keaton Nankivil to play well offensively. Wisconsin doesn’t have a single recruit in the Rivals-150 for the 2010 class coming in so they are likely taking hits in both experience & talent this year.
21-14 3.3-#7 #4 Not a horrible job by Tubby Smith at all. Minnesota was a few close games away from starting the year 14-0 (2-0). Minnesota’s biggest problem was losing some head scratching games. They had losses to Indiana, Michigan (twice), & Northwestern. They win those 4 games and all of a sudden the Gophers are 22-8. They beat Michigan St. & Purdue in the Big 10 tournament before losing to Ohio St. in the finals. The 21-13 record was enough to get into the NCAA Tournament, but they lost to Xavier in the first round. The only thing that gets you about Minnesota is that you see them go on great runs like they did in the Big 10 tournament & you wonder why they didn’t do that all year? They are losing Damian Johnson & Lawrence Westbrook, but everyone else returns. Minnesota has enough players to provide in their absence. The Gophers should be more experienced & their talent probably goes up a notch. Minnesota is also a HUGE team. They’ll be interesting to see.
20-14 2.9-#10 #9 How can anyone think Bill Carmody isn’t an exceptional basketball coach? Northwestern is basically team made up of guys who aren’t 3-star players & last year really didn’t have any experience yet there they are with 20 wins with big victories against Illinois, Purdue, Iowa St., NC State & Notre Dame. Remember too that the Wildcats did this last year without their best player Kevin Coble. The only player Northwestern loses from a year ago is Jeremy Nash. The talent level is never going to be anywhere near the top tier of the Big 10, but this team should see a significant uptick in its experience level. If Carmody can get this squad to 20-14 in a year that a lot goes wrong without much experience, he might be able to get the Wildcats into their first ever NCAA Tournament if Lady Luck shines on them in an ultra competitive Big 10.
21-15 3.3-#6 #6 Illinois probably ended up right where they should be although I think Illinois fans have a legitimate beef if they want to argue that Bruce Weber isn’t a good coach. There were at least 5-7 games Illini fans could think Illinois should have come out with a victory. Just assuming the 5 games you comes out with Illinois being 26-10 instead of 21-15. They might even be an NCAA Tournament team. The good news is that Illinois is losing practically nobody from a year ago & are also bringing in 3 4-star recruits. The Illini should see a certain uptick in both experience & talent which should prove to be an automatic NCAA Tournament team. They are ranked #13 in the preseason AP Poll which means they should be a team fighting for a Sweet-16 spot if not a bit more. If they don’t get there then Weber’s feet should be put to the fire.
15-17 3.4-#4 #7 John Beilein should probably be on the hot seat in Ann Arbor. When looking at talent & experience as a whole, Michigan probably should have been better than Illinois, Northwestern & Minnesota, but finished just 15-17? The Wolverines were 5-10 in their last 15 alone. The weird part is that their advanced metrics don’t look awful & this was a team that managed to beat Ohio St. & Connecticut. This year they lose Manny Harris & Deshawn Sims which is going to take a bite out of their expereicne & talent rankings. Beilein did manage to get a top recruit in 4-star forward Evan Smotrycz, but it won’t be enough. This is Beilein’s 4th year at the helm & it looks to be potentially the worst one yet. Maybe Michigan taking all the West Virginia coaches wasn’t such a good idea? It’s hard to think Michigan should ever be bad at any sport given the school’s resources, but man Big Blue has sucked for awhile.
11-20 2.8-#11 #8 HC Ed DeChellis is on the hot seat and rightfully so, but to be fair what else could Penn St. do last year? They were the least talented team in the Big 10 & were in the bottom third when it came to experience! The Lions went into a horrible funk when they lost 14 straight game in the middle of the season last year which sealed their fate. To be fair, there were about 4 games on the schedule that Penn St. lost that you could argue they should have won. That still only makes them 15-16 which isn’t going to get them to any postseason tournament. PSU got a huge lift when Talor Battle decided to return. They lose nobody so their experience level will go up even if the talent quotient keeps them in the basement of the Big 10. Being HC of Penn St. basketball is probably a lot like being HC of Indiana football. The university needs a coach who at least can bring in some talent.
10-21 3.2-#8 #10 Being one of the most storied schools in college basketball is a brutal legacy to uphold when you are facing the situation HC Tom Crean is facing. Then again, Indiana did a pretty good job. When Crean took over in 08-09 he had one walk-on player & had to grab players from the baseball team just to field a basketball team. He followed that up with top-10 class in 2009. In the last week he’s gotten 2 5-star athletes to commit & 2 more are on the way. Last year was a tough year for Indiana. All their good players were freshman & unfortunately they lost their best player in Maurice Creek early in the season. If Indiana wins 6 of their close games & show up against Iowa then they could easily have been 18-13 which would have been an incredible improvement over the 6-25 year they had in Crean’s inaugural season. The biggest problem for Indiana is playing in a Big 10 that is so good. The 4-star players should get more minutes moving their talent level up & they should have much more experience as well. Indiana should be .500 this year & possibly even a bit better. It’s tough to judge Crean after his first two seasons, but everything else is going incredibly right for the Hoosiers.
10-22 2.9-#9 #11 Todd Lickliter is out and Fran McCaffery is in, but in retrospect, what could Lickliter have done with last year’s team? Iowa, like Indiana, wasn’t just the most inexperienced teams in the Big 10, they were one of the most inexperienced teams in the entire nation. Combine that with no talent on hand & Iowa is going to lose a lot of basketball games. The one good thing about Iowa this year is that if McCaffery keeps the players around then the Hawkeyes don’t really lose anyone which means their experience level should rise a bit. On the other hand, there isn’t much talent coming into Iowa City either so the dearth of talent is still a problem. Iowa’s problems are a lot like Indiana’s in that they are rebuilding in the midst of a renaissance in the Big 10 with just how good the conference really is.

If I had to predict the Big 10 this year based on talent, experience & what each team has returning or gaining from recruiting I’d probably go:

1. Michigan St.
2. Ohio St.
3. Illinois
4. Purdue
5. Minnesota
6. Indiana
7. Wisconsin
8. Northwestern
9. Penn St.
10. Michigan
11. Iowa

Izzo is too good of a coach to not finish 1st with what he as returning. I’m not completely sold on how good Matta & Weber are, but the talent & experience they have on their teams is going to be hard to beat even if the schools have average coaching. Ohio St. could potentially be even better this year even with losing Evan Turner which is a ridiculous prospect. Losing Robbie Hummel hurts Purdue something awful but Matt Painter is doing a great job & E’Twaun Moore & JuJuan Johnson are back plus the Boilermakers get a couple of 4-star recruits in Terone Johnson & Anthony Johnson. Hummel likely puts them ahead of everyone else in the Big 10, but without him they have to drop behind Illinois, Ohio St., & Michigan St.

I think Minnesota could surprise some people with how big they are, plus Tubby Smith is a solid coach that is capable of winning 22-25 games a season even if that national championship run at Kentucky was heavily fueled by Rick Pitino’s recruiting efforts. I have Indiana at #6 because I’m a HOMER and I hope that the incredible success Tom Crean is having on the recruiting trail will spill over into a few more wins than they might normally have. I’m probably underselling Wisconsin a bit, but I don’t think they’ll be better than the top-4 & I believe Minnesota will be decent. With Indiana surprising a few folks that leaves the Badgers with a very disappointing 7th place prediction. Northwestern should be solid so I have them at #8.

The bottom 3 teams are a mess. Penn St. should be OK with Talor Battle, but the Lions have nothing else & the conference is simply too tough. Iowa & Michigan are a mess so they’ll most likely be the two worst teams in the conference.

Regardless, let’s all pray that Indiana finishes #6 or higher! GO HOOSIERS!

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November 12, 2010 - Posted by | Basketball, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan St., Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio St, Penn St., Purdue, Wisconsin

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