The Changing B1G Basketball Landscape

If you're looking ahead to next season, it's prudent to start with the reigning champion of the conference...and with IU's recent defections, it makes even more sense to do so.

We all know IU will look different in 2013. I read someplace that they're the first program to ever lose four 1,000 point scorers in one off-season.  That'll leave a mark. So is it more amazing that four guys that reached the millennial mark are all gone in the same off-season, OR that a team that had four 1,000 point scorers (on one starting five) never got past the Sweet 16? You guys can discuss that  question amongst yourselves.

What we do know is that it's difficult to lose four starters...regardless of whom those starters are.  It's even tougher when a team loses its heart and soul; IU has lost both.

We had a ton of IU fans assure us that Zeller was going to stay because he needed to develop.  Bad news, friends: Crean's system wasn't helping him fact, it seemingly was making him worse.  It seems that we weren't the only ones who thought this.  Ex-IU player and coach, and current radio/TVpersonality, Dan Dakich encouraged Zeller to go pro as a way to help him develop.  Zeller wasn't used effectively and his bad habits weren't coached out of him.  As the season progressed, his shoulder got lower and lower when he drove...and officials were all but forced to call the charge on the 7 footer whose shoulder height would have made a running back jealous.

Zeller told the press that he had planned all along to go pro after his Sophomore year...but IU fans told us a different story.  We were told that his parents valued academics so much that he wouldn't leave until he had graduated...He has 35 credit hours remaining. Some told us that he just loved the school too much to leave.  It sounds like he really liked IU, but he loved his teammates, namely those leaving and that made his decision easier.

A word of unsolicited advice to my IU friends and anyone else who wants to adamantly predict the actions of another person: It's not a good idea to try to guess what's in another person's head, especially an 18/19 year old kid.

Zeller wisely chose to leave...and in his decision's wake, IU fans were seriously asking, "Won't IU be better without him?" Many continued, "He was too soft." I mean, why wouldn't someone want to stay and play in front of fans like that??? Ammiright?

Zeller was a very good college basketball player...and now that he's no longer at IU, I hope he does OK on the next level; glad he's gone, wish him no ill will.  Afterall, he officially made an excellent decision yesterday.  All that said, I'd guess that three years ago, the average IU fan would have thought that if Zeller only went to the Sweet 16, his career would be judged as a bit of a failure...BUT, IU fans and media alike are spinning the defections to the NBA as nothing but a positive.  That's kind of fun to watch.

But, IU is just one of the programs in the B1G that will be ravaged by attrition this off-season.

Here is how the top of the conference will change next season:

2013 starting five:
Zeller (So. C)*
Watford (Sr. F)
Oladipo (Jr. G)*
Hulls (Sr. G)
Ferrell (Fr. G)

2014 projected starters:
Vonleh (Fr. F)
Hollowell (So. F)
Sheehey (Sr. G/F)
Abell (Jr. G)
Ferrell (So. G)
2013 starting five:
Williams (So. C)
Thomas (Jr. F)*
Thompson (So. F)
Smith (Jr. G)
Craft (Jr. G)

2014 projected starters:

Williams (Jr. C)
Ross (Jr. F)
Thompson (Jr. F)
Smith (Sr. G)
Craft (Sr. G)
2013 starting five:
Nix (Sr. F)
Payne (Jr. F)
Dawson (So. F)
Appling (Jr. G)
Harris (Fr. G)

2014 projected starters:

Payne (Sr. F)
Dawson (Jr. F)
Valentine (So. G)
Appling (Sr. G)
Harris (So. G)
2013 starting five:
Berggren (Sr. F/C)
Breusewitz (Sr. F)
Evans (Sr. F)
Brust (Jr. G)
Jackson (So. G)

2014 projected starters:
Dekker (So. F)
Kaminsky (Jr. F)
Gasser (Jr. G)
Brust (Jr. G)
Jackson (So. G)
2013 starting five:
Morgan (Jr. F)
Robinson (Fr. F)
Hardaway (Jr. G)
Sauskas (Fr. G)
Burke (So. G)*

2014 projected starters:
-McGary (So. C)
Morgan (Sr. F)
Robinson (So. F)
Stauskas (So. G)
Albrecht (So. G)

-McGary is still deciding if he'll stay or go to the NBA

Other notes:
-Illinois graduates two guys who started for most of their careers in Paul and Richardson...and they lose an additional role player starter in McLaurin. In addition to these guys, three more guys have decided to transfer out of the program.
-Iowa returns four starters.
-Minnesota will hired Richard Pitino after reportedly being rejected by two or three coaches; will return three starters.  As of right now, Minnesota has an incoming class of zero.
-Northwestern hired Collins after Carmody continued NU's tradition of never making the NCAA tournament. They lose two starters, but Crawford will return from injury.  If I were a betting man, I'd put a quarter on Sobolewski being formed into an unlikable Hurley, Collins, Wojohowski type of player.
-Nebraska opens their new arena and looks to continue some of their improvement from the end of the season...loses two starters.
-Penn State loses only their sixth man...Chambers incoming class is one of the strongest for PSU since they entered the conference.  BUT PSU, during that same period has never had a player rated higher than 3-stars.
The Forces of Good:
-Purdue's incoming Freshman class of Stephens (IL), Smotherman (IN) and Scott (IN) were all named to their all-state teams.
-Painter noted that he hopes everyone will return who is able to...of course, Purdue will lose Byrd and Anthrop to graduation.
-Rumors around Purdue transfers and defections are still just rumors...but the one that seems to have the most credence still, is Marcius. His locker has been cleaned out and he's been less involved in team activities, we've heard...Painter expressed that he wants him back, and told him so in his post-season interview.

But if he leaves, I guess I can't blame him. In spite of playing hard and being extremely productive down the stretch of the regular season, Hammons still started in the CBI.  Marcius might have taken that as a bit of a sign that his effort and productivity mattered less than Hammons potential, which is a shame.

If you follow us on Twitter, you might have seen AJohn's sentiment that he's looking forward to coming back and being a part of a team that gets much better in the off-season. BUT, his body language were indicative of a guy that struggled with consistency, focus and toughness at times. On top of that, he, along with Hale and Lawson, were rumored to be guys that didn't see eye-to-eye with Painter.

Keep in mind, all of those rumors are mere conjecture...But their lack of playing time during the last ten games of the season is something that was on display for all to see. We'll see what happens, I guess.
BS' Early Prognostication

Here's the way I see the B1G shaking out in 2014 (as of right now):
1. aOSU
When was the last time you saw a Bucknut line-up with all Juniors and Seniors?? They'll be monsters.

2. MSU
Lots of returning talent...but MSU will be a much smaller team (top-to-bottom) than most Izzo squads.

3. Michigan
UM will have shooting, experience and good size...but even if McGary returns, they still lose a lot. Burke made everybody better and Hardaway did a lot of different things that helped the team.

4. Iowa
We all know Coach Fran is a pretty good coach.  Well, good coach plus a ton of veterans equals success.

5. Purdue
A few years ago, who would have thought a top-5 finish would be viewed as a success? In the wake of '13, in a tough conference, a top-5 season will probably mean Purdue will be ranked in the top-25...all while leaning heavily on Sophomores and Freshman.  A 21-23 win season should act as a stepping stone for a good one in '15. Painter really needs the team to get back to basics and needs them to win now.

6. Wisconsin
I never bet against Bo Ryan being in the mix for the B1G title...until now.

7. Indiana
Sheehey will go from annoying sixth man, to the guy that IU needs to be all-conference.  If he can make the leap, IU will be in the top third of the conference, if not, IU will struggle.  Also, Ferrell will need to play like UM's Burke for IU to be anywhere near where they were in '13.  All that said, IU will have a lot of talent on the roster, but their lack of leadership will hurt.

8. Illinois
Losing seven players in one season, regardless of how much they played, is a difficult pill to swallow for any program.  The Illini will need Bertrand, Abrams and Egwu to take big strides in the off-season in order for Illinois to make the tournament again in 2014. Illinois might get 20 wins next season...but how they get there will be much different than this season.  Don't look for Illinois to start out quickly next fall.

9. Minnesota
There will be growing pains for Goldy next year.  They'll still have some athletes that make jaw-dropping plays, but Minnesota fans might miss Tubby come March as Minnesota goes to the NIT.

10. Nebraska
Miles' team scratches and claws to more progress, but stays in the bottom-third of the tough B1G.

11. Northwestern
The Collins era begins in a fashion that's familiar to Northwestern fans.

12. Penn State
The cavernous Bryce Jordan Center stays mostly-empty for yet another winter as Penn State struggles to run with the thoroughbreds of the nation's best conference.
More Guessing...

All Conference Team:
McGary UM
Payne MSU
Marble Iowa
Harris MSU
Craft aOSU

2nd Team:
Dekker Wisconson
Sheehey IU
Smith aOSU
T. Johnson Purdue
Appling MSU

*Denotes POY candidate in 2013

Sandi: We Hardly Knew Ye.

The BS Curse? (and other football notes)