It feels like the pre-con has been longer than normal, to me at least. It could be because Our Boilers didn't have a ton of interesting contests. Regardless of why, I'm glad the real season's upon us today at 2:00 for some odd reason.
The first game of the conference schedule happened last night and IU fans, for some reason, might not be as happy that the BT schedule is here. As they did the last few seasons, they played well for the first few games of the non-conference, but seem to get weaker as real basketball approaches. Now, I wouldn't call PSU a world-beater...or even a regional power, honestly, but they handled IU in Ass. Hall last night with relative ease. The Clapping Clown (just heard that new moniker for the Forehead and I'm trying it out) had no answer for the basketball genius that is Ed Dechellis. Talor Battle's performance wasn't surprising. But, PSU's forwards' play was. 15/8, 23/8 with 3 blocks were their lines. And the fact that PSU only went 7 deep couldn't be overcome by an IU team that has a 10 man rotation. IU's in trouble...again.
And that's my segway for my BT power rankings.
Crean has been tearing up the recruiting trail, but I'm not sure if it matters. His gameday coaching seems to be getting worse. And a lineup that includes Jones, Watford and lots of guys with experience isn't being utilized effectively, in my opinion. The Hoosiers are lousy on defense and play a soft brand of basketball.
Talor Battle stayed, no one else did...and for some reason, Dechellis still has a job. Battle deserves better, but he'll have to wait until when he's a pro to be on a more-competitive team.
Iowa has a heartbeat due to some renewed passion and a new coaching staff. Cole, May and Gatens are solid, but depth will be a problem for the Hawkeyes during the BT grinder.
I'll admit it- I don't believe in Beilein. Until he gives me a reason to think otherwise, UM will be down near the bottom of the conference, in my opinion. We'll see them up close today.
At 7th in the BT, with a running start of 9 wins, NU could be on the edge of making the tourney...but I think they'll be on the outside, once again. It's not their fault- they'd be fine in a mid-major conference, battling near the top. Instead, they'll be in the lower middle, yet again.
In spite of having loads of depth and talent, Illinois doesn't look great to me. Plus, like IU, they look soft. That's not a good thing for a BT team. If they figure a couple of things out, they could be near the top of the conference...they haven't done it yet.
Their two losses aren't bad, but, like Purdue, they have no signature wins. Bo Ryan's a witch though, we all know that. With the Birdman coaching and Jon Leuer doin' what he do, they'll make plenty of noise.
I like this Minnesota team- Tubby's recruiting efforts from a few years ago are paying off in the form of a bunch of talented players. I'm just hoping Matty remembers how his squad was embarrassed by them last season and has the boys motivated...Goldy will be a handful.
I've watched our Boilers (like you) plenty this season, and here's what I know: Smooge and JJ are as good as they're supposed to be. The defense is as good as it's supposed to be. But, they haven't really been in a pressure-cooker yet and haven't faced anybody. I look for our Boilers to start off very strong in the conference, but the end of the schedule gives me nightmares that leave me sitting up in bed and sucking my thumb. Until I see either: a third defender that strikes fear into the opposition OR Barlow/Bird/Hart get more consistent offensively, I have a hard time believing Purdue wins the BT. But, we've said it all along- that shouldn't be this team's goal, in our opinion.
NCAA violations and a team that has no identity are the first things I think of this early season with Sparty. But, like Bo Ryan, Izzo is an amazing coach during the conference schedule and he'll get his guys on the same page in the next month, I'm sure of it. Too much talent, too much experience, too much coaching savvy to not be in contention for the league title.
Sure, I'm positive Matta can screw this up. But, the aOSU recruiting machine loses the player of the year, and somehow, they look better? Don't get cocky Thad, it has nothing to do with your gameday abilities. Sullinger, Lighty, Buford and Diebler are scary...but aOSU could struggle against teams who have good bigs and solid defense (read as MSU and Wisconsin). From where I'm standing, looks like the Bucknuts will win the BT by a nose (OK, just stop with the snickering...I wasn't talking about Matta).
A lot can and will change...but one thing's clear, the BT is strong like bull. Let's tip this mutha off.