OK, so Dan Monson quit even sooner that I expected. Obviously, he reads Hawkeye State.
But, before we get to the next two teams in the Big Ten preview, a couple of things.
First, after last night, I believe Irish Hawk is right. Iowa should be behind Boiler, so make the requisite adjustments.
Second, the Big Ten/ACC Challenge was a sham. The Worldwide Leader (who puts on this ridiculous annual exercise) gave the ACC one extra home game. There are only eleven Big Ten schools, so someone has to get an extra. But look at the schedule. Every game that looked competitive on paper before the season (except for ILLINI-Turtles) was played on an ACC court: tOSU-UNC at Chapel Hill. BC-MSU in Boston. Michigan-NC State in Raleigh. Virginia Tech-Iowa at...wherever it is that VT plays. In the meantime, the games where there was no chance of an ACC win were on Big Ten home courts. It's amazing the Big Ten did as well as it did.
Of course, it gave Dick Vitale another reason to complain. He actually started complaining about last year's tournament field (specifically, the Maryland omission) during the UNC-tOSU game. It's a mid-major world now, and Vitale still can't deal with it. And ESPN is his enabler.
That being said, the Ohio State-North Carolina game was one of the most impressive displays of college basketball I've seen in a long time. If Greg Oden is as good as advertised (hell, if he's 65% of what's advertised), they're practically unstoppable.
OK, back to the countdown:
6th Place, Big Ten Conference (a.k.a. The Best of the Rest): BIG BLUE
The Good News: They have a whole helluva lot of talent. They return a lot of scoring (Lester Abram, Dion Harris), some size (the overrated Courtney Sims), and enough youngsters to fill out a pretty decent starting five.
The Bad News: It's not enough to make up for the fact that Tommy Amaker is coaching. Seriously, is there a college with more incompetence in important positions that Mich? Amaker, Carr, Mary Sue Coleman (that's just bitterness, but still).
Best Name on the Roster: Ekpe Udoh, whose name is made better by the fact that he's from Edmond, Oklahoma (pop. 68,315). He grew up quick, and he grew up mean, and his fists got hard and his wits got keen, I'll tell ya life ain't easy for a boy named Ekpe Udoh.
All-Time Great: Normally, this would be tough. Glen Rice. Rudy Tomjanovich. The Fab Five. But when I was a kid, my dad used to hip check us out of the paint and block every shot, and every time he did it, he claimed to be UM center Loy Vaught. So you know what? Loy Vaught is the greatest Big Blue cager ever.
Program High Point: National Champion, 1989.
Program Low Point: I believe there was something involving a time out...I think I saw something about that on the television...
Projection: 11-3 non-conference, 7-9 conference, 18-12 overall.
Again, I'm sorry, but I'm tired. This weekend, the final 5.