Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Top 4 return? and other questions

After watching most of the Big Ten teams play one game it is way too early to start making predictions about the league. So what better time to start making some predictions. The Big Ten again looks like MSU and the rest, and even MSU is not overwhelmingly talented. The national media doesn't think much of the league, and from what I have seen there isn't much reason to argue with that. Some may say the Big Ten has a ton of depth, but I would call that mediocrity. T-Rank has 11 Big Ten teams between #20 and #50. It should make for some exciting basketball on a night to night basis which should be a lot of fun.

Here are my takes on a couple questions. What do you think Torvik?

1) Who emerges from the group to challenge MSU?

Purdue is my guess here. They haven't finished outside the top 4 since 2013-14, and Edwards is a very good player. In a league that lacks quality big men, guards like Edwards can carry a team a long way. They have enough other talent to provide a challenge.

Dark Horse: Maryland

2) Who ends up on the All-Big Ten team at the end of the year.

Winston Jr

3) Does Bucky find their way back into the top 4 and avoid playing on Wednesday in March? Who ends up with them?

I think so, by a nose, and it will not surprise me if there are several teams tied. I think Happ will have a much better year with some better talent around him. With the league so down, I think that probably only translates to a 6-8 seed in the tourney though.

I'm throwing Maryland in as my fourth team, and dark hose to win the league. May seem foolish, as Maryland always seems to be a tease talentwise, and this year may be no different. I think they are probably the most talented team in the league with 2 quality big men, and some athletic wings. I love Cowan, and I think he could win player of the year if this team pans out. They have no meaningful senior players, Cowan is the only junior, and they have 8 underclassmen in the rotation. Defense will be a challenge with all those young kids used to playing AAU defense, and turnovers will probably be an issue as well. It's early in the season, so luckily there's plenty of time to forget this pick.


Sunday, November 4, 2018

First Impressions

After getting my first view of Bucky on Friday I thought I would get up some thoughts. My predictions for football this season have been complete shit, so it's time to turn to basketball.

Davison looks great. He dove to the rim over and over and got layups and free throws as a result. He lead the team in fouls drawn (new stat being tracked on UWbadgers.com that I love) and had 8 free throw attempts. Throw in 3 assists, no turnovers and 2 steals and it was a solid performance. He threw up a couple ill advised jumpers that UW didn't need, but after being forced to shoot those all last year out of desperation, it is not surprising that it may take some time to get that out of his system.

Happ had less than 23 minutes but looked very Happ like when he was out there. I'll talk about the 3s, since everything else was par for the course. He had 3 attempts and made one. The first miss was awful, and the second miss just rattled out. I hope he does not go the same way as Nigel and start jacking 3s at a rate of 3 per game. The shot still doesn't look good. I will be surprised if he takes them on a regular basis, and even more surprised if he makes them. Hopefully if the shooting is improved, we will see the results at the free throw line instead.

Reuvers played less than 17 minutes but picked up 4 fouls. When he wasn't fouling he was pretty productive on both ends. He had a play in the first half when he got bodied in the lane, but was still able to finish through contact. He wouldn't have made that shot last year. While he will start the halves with Happ, it looks like the intent will be to give both plenty of time on the floor as the primary post player in a rotation.

My buddy's dad asked me how did Iverson look, and I said "active". For the first 15 minutes of the first half he was everywhere, and I thought to myself this is the guy we have been waiting for, for the last 3 years. He finished in the post with his left hand, he was great guarding the perimeter, and I said if he can keep this up and not turn the ball over he could be great this year. Then he turned the ball over twice in 4 minutes. He finished leading the team in shot attempts (12), and had 3 assists and 3 turnovers in just 20 minutes. Active.

Trice and King looked about the same as they did before they got hurt last year. Trice is fitting back into running the team after they had to figure out how to do that without him last year. King airballed his first attempt and looked shaky early, but got more comfortable as the game went on. Both just need time to get their feet under them and find their role again. King sure looks like he could be the best guy on the court at some point in his career. There are a lot of tools there.

Pritzl looks like he will be the guy he was at the end of last year, which is not who I ever expected him to be, but is OK nevertheless. He was billed as the next JBo or Ben Brust, but more athletic and taller, but he is not like them at all. His shot is quick but not nearly as pure, and he doesn't hunt the 3 like those guys did. He has become a decent all around guard that doesn't eat up a ton of shots and takes what is there. He's more like Gasser on offense, just not as efficient/good. His effort on defense has gotten consistently better, but seems doubtful he'll ever be great there. 

The backup point guards weren't great, but at least we won't have to play McGrory in an actual game this year. Anderson looks like your old school distributing point guard. He also had an Aaron Rodgers like knee brace on. I can't believe he could even run with that thing on. Strickland is a busy guy, but out of control and will hopefully redshirt to get some seasoning. He racked up 4 fouls in less than 7 minutes played.

Thomas and Illikainen were the same, which is bad. Thomas was 1-5FG in 8 minutes, and Illikainen didn't even see the court until the last 2 minutes of the game. I have to imagine if Ford was healthy those guys wouldn't play at all, but they will be there to get backup minutes as needed throughout the year.

Overall this team will be better than last year which will surprise no one. If they stay healthy I think they are at worst a bubble team, at best they are a 4-5 seed and top 4 in the Big Ten. That would take some considerable growth from King, Davison, Trice, and Reuvers, but I don't think it's out of the range of this team. Those are 4 talented kids and Happ is still Happ, so they should be fun to watch, and have a shot to be good. 2 things I didn't say at all last year.