5 things I'm confident about in 2013-14

As we still await Adreian Payne’s NBA draft decision, I thought it would be fun to take another way-too-early look ahead to the 2013-14 season. This time, I’ll do it in prediction form, offering five things I’m confident about in 2013-14. See all five in this post. Have a prediction of your own? Feel free to leave it as a comment.

1. Ronnie Johnson, not Yogi Ferrell, will be best point guard in Indiana – No disrespect to Ferrell, whose role is certain to increase in the wake of Indiana losing Jordan Hulls, Victor Oladipo, Christian Watford and Cody Zeller. Instead, Johnson is just that good, to the point that he could give Aaron Craft and Tim Frazier a run for their money when it comes to the Big Ten’s top point guard. Quick as a hiccup and an absolute blur in transition, Johnson can distribute and get to the basket with ease. Give him an improved jump shot, which his game desperately lacks, and he’s going to be scary good. Even if the stroke doesn’t come this year, with brother Terone Johnson and classmates Rapheal Davis and A.J. Hammons at his disposal, Johnson may lead the Big Ten in assists.

2. Michigan State will win the Big Ten – We’re still awaiting Adreian Payne’s decision on whether he’ll stay in school or enter the 2013 NBA Draft. Regardless of the outcome, the Spartans are the Big Ten favorite. Should Payne stay, a starting 5 of, say, Keith Appling, Denzel Valentine, Gary Harris, Branden Dawson and Payne is hard not to love. Should Payne leave, there’s still depth in East Lansing and the departure would open the door for Matt Costello and other talented youngsters. Lost in all the starpower Michigan State returns, Dawson also would be two years removed from ACL surgery. The junior-to-be didn’t show signs of rust early in the season, but as the year wore on, he struggled mightily on offense.

3. Penn State will be Big Ten’s most improved team – I’ve been on the 2013-14 Penn State bandwagon since late February, and even though the Nittany Lions went 2-16 in the Big Ten, things are looking up in University Park, Pa. A .500 conference clip, or maybe better, isn’t out of the equation for this team. Everything, of course, rides on Tim Frazier’s surgically repaired Achilles’ tendon. If the point guard can return to his 2011-12 level AND stay healthy the entire season, Penn State should play some kind of postseason ball. Frazier’s return is doubly important to his team, because not only is he one of the Big Ten’s elite talents, he makes his teammates better. No question, D.J. Newbill and Jermaine Marshall, the Big Ten’s leading returning scorers, will become more efficient and better all-around players due to Frazier’s presence. He’ll also make things easier for forward Ross Travis.

4. Iowa will be a legit Big Ten title contender – Why should you believe in the Hawkeyes? There are many reasons, actually. For starters, they’ve improved their win total by seven games in each of the past two seasons under Fran McCaffery (11 wins in 2010-11 to 18 in 2011-12 to 25 this past year). In addition, they’re a talented young team that returns all but one player (Eric May) from a squad that went 25-13, including 9-9 in the rugged Big Ten, and advanced to the NIT title game. Also, in Devyn Marble and Aaron White, Iowa features one of the conference’s better duos. Finally, let’s not forget, six of Iowa’s nine Big Ten defeats came by four points or fewer. This is a team that’s not far away from figuring it out.

5. LaQuinton Ross will break out, become a star – It’s no easy task to fill Deshaun Thomas’ shoes, but Ross has the game to do just that. The athletic and much-pubbed Buckeye finally found his groove during Ohio State’s postseason run, which included the Big Ten tourney title and an Elite Eight berth. Ross struggled to get consistent minutes most of the 2012-13 season, be it the result of poor/lazy defense or not blocking out on rebounds. But Thad Matta finally turned him loose down the stretch, and it offered a glimpse into what we can expect in the future. Here’s what we learned: Ross is a silky smooth scorer who isn’t afraid to hoist any shot – even game-winners in the NCAA tourney – and who will still have occasional mixups. But those issues can be hidden on this team, thanks to the defensive prowess of Aaron Craft, Shannon Scott, Lenzelle Smith and Amir Williams.

About Brent Yarina BTN.com web editor Brent Yarina covers football and men’s basketball for BTN.com. He writes the popular uniform feature “Clothes Call,” which also focuses on the latest cosmetic changes across Big Ten arenas and stadiums. Read all of his work here. You can subscribe to Yarina’s RSS feed and follow him on Twitter @BTNBrentYarina.


Your Opinion?
Show Comments (42 Comments)
Reality Check on 4/23/2013 @ 3:04pm EDT Said:

I don’t think even with Payne and Harris that MSU can be a match for McGary and Glen Robinson 111. Without Payne MSU will struggle to make the tournament, with them they finish
Third behind Michigan and Ohio State.

Kennster75 on 4/23/2013 @ 3:49pm EDT Said:

Michigan state will always be there at the top fighting for championships. If u think they will not make the tourney u know nothing about michigan state basketball and coach izzo.

You kidding me? on 4/23/2013 @ 5:06pm EDT Said:

@Reality Check… Payne is better than McGary. Harris is better than Robinson. End of argument.

Hawkeyecheesehead on 4/23/2013 @ 5:40pm EDT Said:

Iowa will finish in the top three in the conference ext year.

Delmar Jones on 4/23/2013 @ 6:25pm EDT Said:

Iowa could be very good next year, they came on strong at the end of the season. They should have been in the NCAA tournament but got passed over and went on to finish in the finals of the NIT. If Payne doesn’t stay Michigan state will be in trouble. Ohio State will win the Big Ten 2013-14 with to emergent s of LaQuinton Ross to go along with Aaron Craft leadership the Buckeyes have a great chance to get back to the final four. GO BUCKS

Reality check on 4/23/2013 @ 7:50pm EDT Said:

Correct Delmar Btn recognizes that Ohio State and Michigan are the class of the league Iowa may indeed grab third and push MSU to fourth

Will on 4/23/2013 @ 8:10pm EDT Said:

back when McGary was out of shape midway through the season, Payne may have had the upper hand. not so much anymore, especially without Nix to help him

    Delmar Jones on 4/24/2013 @ 9:04am EDT Said:

    Hey Will you could say the same thing, that without Burke McGary might not be the same player so we’ll have to wait and see won’t we. Their style of play really isn’t that similar anyway Payne can step out and hit three as well as the mid range jumper where as McGary plays more of an around the basket game wouldn’t you agree.

P Rosazza on 4/23/2013 @ 9:18pm EDT Said:

The Hawkeyes will win the Big Ten next season!!!

    Delmar Jones on 4/24/2013 @ 9:11am EDT Said:

    The Hawkeyes will be a much better team this coming season but lets not get carry away. There’s no way that they’ll win the Big Ten regular season title or tournament. Sorry

Ronman on 4/23/2013 @ 10:07pm EDT Said:

I agree that Penn St. will be improved next season, but to make the jump to .500 or better in the Big Ten will be tough to achieve.

Alex Moir on 4/24/2013 @ 8:51am EDT Said:

Shut the hell up and let’s play the games shall we?

Josh on 4/24/2013 @ 9:44am EDT Said:

Penn State will be improved because they only won 2 conference games, but Nebraska will be the most improved. They only had 7 guys on scholly last year for pete sake!!! Add 3 more scholarship players with more athleticism that fit Miles system = much better!

James D. on 4/24/2013 @ 11:11am EDT Said:

Even if Payne leaves Costello was still Mr. Basketball and we just signed a 6’9″ PF from Chicago, who’s being compared to Draymond Green, so to say the team will finish behind Michigan, Ohio State, or Iowa (laughs all around) is absurd. Thomas scored half of OSU’s points last year and he’s gone. McGary only played well for a few games and only when every team left him wide open in the paint. Robinson was touted highly at the start of the season but was obviously overshadowed by Gary Harris as the year went on. Riding off an Izzo team is the dumbest mistake any opponent can make year to year.

Michael on 4/24/2013 @ 11:19am EDT Said:

to the unrealistic Spartan fans…McGary is BETTER than Payne, Robinson III is BETTER than Appling. both UM players were projected as lottery picks. Plus I didn’t see msu in the title game, am I missing something?

Lichty12 on 4/24/2013 @ 11:36am EDT Said:

Really like #1. Ronnie was not talked about much this year, due to a down year for the Boilers. Purdue will compete w/ PSU for most improved team. Should be another great year for the BigTen!!

John Murphy on 4/24/2013 @ 11:40am EDT Said:

I’m digging everyone writing off my Hoosiers. Two top 4 recruiting classes in a row. By the end of the year, next year’s team will be better than this year’s.

Tom on 4/24/2013 @ 11:57am EDT Said:

Nebraska will finish in the top half!!!

Doug on 4/24/2013 @ 12:20pm EDT Said:

Hye Michael, McGary better than Payne? I ddin’t bother with the rest of your post after reading that. Reality check, AKA Mark, without Burke and Hardaway, Michigan will fall to 4th if they’re lucky.

Kurt on 4/24/2013 @ 12:54pm EDT Said:

Until it happens otherwise the Badgers will contend right to the end in the B1G. Still haven’t finished lower than 4th since Bo Ryan has been there.

Pundit on 4/24/2013 @ 2:28pm EDT Said:

With Burke, UM finished tied for 4th place (and the 5th seed). No returning player for UM could create their own shot or handle the ball. In short, they did nothing when Burke wasn’t on the floor. Beilein is 2 games over .500 in B1G play. He’ll be lucky if he doesn’t drop down to a losing conference record after his 7th season in a big boy league.

    Delmar Jones on 4/24/2013 @ 8:18pm EDT Said:

    Well it’s not gong to be easy to replace a guard like Burke but if you think that Michigan won’t be in the the Big Ten race you didn’t watch Big Ten basketball this year. Spike’s no Burke but the kid has game and they not going to miss Hardaway Jr. as much as you would think. Remember he didn’t really show up in the tournament and a lot of his game or the lack of was exposed. GR 3 will get better as will McGary and the rest of the team. I wouldn’t be burying the Wolverines so soon if I were you.

esqjeff44 on 4/24/2013 @ 3:03pm EDT Said:

McGary/Payne- I think comparing the two is silly — their games are entirely different– I don’t think I have never seen McGary shoot a 3 fellas. McGary is quite nimble for a big man, and hit lots of key shots in the tournament– he has soft hands and is physical– I see Payne has having tons of raw talent, but needs quite a bit of development– like Cody Zeller, he is not ready for the pro game in my mind– in terms of comparing their talent– both are top caliber players– this from a non-partison IU fan.

Reality Check on 4/24/2013 @ 3:09pm EDT Said:

Have to disagree with you there Doug (AKA MSU Owns Belien) Glen Robinson 3 has a tremenduous upside, I bet you dont know he is the son of an NBA all star.

ryan dorsey on 4/24/2013 @ 4:12pm EDT Said:

The Big Ten will once again be the top conference in the country next year. Illinois will take a step back and Nebraska will be bad but I look for the other 10 to all compete for a spot in the tourny. Mich, MSU and OSU should all be hanging around the top 10 the entire year and Wisconsin and Iowa are going to be great also. Wisky getting Gasser back is going to be huge and Dekker will be a star.

Chris Cotant on 4/24/2013 @ 4:21pm EDT Said:

Next year’s 2013-14 Hawkeyes week in and week out, and game in and game out, will be everyone’s worst nightmare.

Not sure where they will finish in the Big Ten but know they will be a post season terror in both the Big Ten and NCAAs.

This team is way too deep, way too hungry, just enough too talented and really well coached.

Oh btw the same thing is going to be a repeat in 2014-15 and 20l5-16.

Doug on 4/24/2013 @ 6:41pm EDT Said:

Hey Mark, GR 3 is no where near as talented as his dad, just like Hadaway JR wasn’t, wake up !!!

Indianabanners on 4/24/2013 @ 8:37pm EDT Said:

Man, these UM fans are huge homers. Gary Harris is way better than anyone on Michigan’s roster and is the reason why the Spartans will win the Big Ten, with or without Payne. GRIII and McGary had their chance to be lottery players and they gave it up. They’re both good players, but McGary will be 22 in a draft deep with young talent. GRIII should still go in the first round, and UM will be good, but the hyperbole here is ridiculous.

And I’m an IU fan! Yogi Ferrell had more assists and fewer turnovers than Ronnie Johnson AND shot a higher overall FG%, 3P%, and FT%. Ronnie is fast, but Yogi is even faster. Yogi unquestionably had a better season than Ronnie this year and will have a better season than Ronnie next year too. Those floaters aren’t going to start dropping for Ronnie for a few years yet.

Kennster75 on 4/24/2013 @ 8:51pm EDT Said:

Remember who the coach is for msu enough said. Never bet against izzo and always bet on green

GopherTheHawkeyes on 4/25/2013 @ 8:07am EDT Said:

I’m a Hawkeye and Gopher fan, but oh my the expectations in Iowa City are rising exponentially every day it seems. A 9-9 Big Ten record is never anything to sneeze at but it was accomplished with a far easier schedule than is the upcoming Big Ten slate. If the Hawks are to come anywhere close to living up to some of these expectations they are going to have to be able to score late in games when it counts, i.e. when Sparty or the Hoosiers turn up the heat defensively and force the offense further and further from the basket. As for the Gophers, welcome to the Big Ten Coach Pitino, glad to have you on board.

Boiler1fan on 4/25/2013 @ 8:12am EDT Said:

Robinson and mcgary excelled because of Burke and hardaway. Without those threats, and all that Burke did, those 2 won’t be as productive. Robinson and mcgary are not creators and dribble drivers. Purdue will be much better with increased defensive pressure and another year of experience. MSU will need height added if Payne leaves. Osu Wisconsin MSU are top 3

    Alex Moir on 4/25/2013 @ 11:24am EDT Said:

    Purduche is still a second tier squad. MSU/OSU (should be capitalized!)Iowa then Wisconsin then Indiana. Purdue still 7th or 8th (depends on some decisions/recruiting at ILL) but probably 8th, good enough for NIT but another year on the sidelines for the Big Dance.

      Delmar Jones on 4/25/2013 @ 1:34pm EDT Said:

      The Big Ten will again be the best conference in the country, as I see it .Team like OSU Mich. St and Michigan will probably be as good as last season. Wisconsin and Indiana might drop a little because of graduation and players leaving for he NBA. Iowa and Purdue and will be a lot better and Ill. and Minn. will also loss players to graduation. The Penn St.s, Nebraska’s of the world will be what they have away been just plain bad. So let stop being fans, hating on one school or the another be a basketball fan and a fan of the Big Ten. I’m a Buckeye fan but this year I was proud to be a Big Ten fan as well. The Confence was the best in all of college basketball and they lived up to it in the NCAA tournament.

Mark on 4/25/2013 @ 2:45pm EDT Said:

Until Ronnie Johnson can prove he can make a FT throw at the rate of a mediocre high major PG, I will go with Yogi Ferrell as the better point guard. And I won’t even mention the defensive side of the ball where it isn’t even close.

I like MSU if Payne is back. If not, OSU, MSU and Michigan will be in a tight race.

Iowa will be in the mix in that next tier.

Jeff Palin on 4/25/2013 @ 6:29pm EDT Said:

Ronnie Johnson will just be another Johnson for Purdue.

Ted on 4/28/2013 @ 2:05pm EDT Said:

@Jeff Palin

Just another Johnson for Purdue? So a consensus first team all-american like Jujuan was a few years back? Im cool with that…

Doug on 4/28/2013 @ 8:59pm EDT Said:

As an MSU fan, I appreciate the other big ten fans realizing Michigan was just a flash in the pan. With Harris and Payne back for MSU, it’s theirs to lose next season. Good luck to your teams !

    Delmar Jones on 4/28/2013 @ 10:21pm EDT Said:

    I’m not one of those fans that think that Michigan was flash in the pan and if you and those others think so then you all will be in for an rude awakening. Yes Burke is gone and so is Hardaway but they’ve got a lot left in the tank and you’re fooling yourselves if you don’t recognized it. Their loaded with players that saw a lot of playing time and they will not have the problem that other team would have because of it. So don’t be surprise when the young Wolverines are right back in the thick of the Big Ten race next year. I’m a Buckeye fan and I won’t be. GO BUCKS

      Alex Moir on 4/29/2013 @ 8:19am EDT Said:

      UM had a very good recruiting year, second only to Indiana. The loss of Burke and Hardaway will be assuaged by the inclusion of Indiana’s Mr. Basketball, a fine point guard. MSU and OSU will claw it out followed by scUM, Iowa, Wisconsin and Indiana. And don’t be surprised if Iowa surprises everyone.

ZeroCool on 4/30/2013 @ 10:32am EDT Said:

I am a huge Purdue fan but personally I do NOT think Ronnie is better than Yogi at this point. Ronnie’s biggest weakness is the fact that he has yet to develop even a semblance of a right hand (how that is possible at this level I have no idea). Yogi can go left or right with ease, it actually seems as if he prefers going left. Ronnie can ONLY go left. Defenses force him right and he ends up either turning it over or trying to force a shot with his off hand resulting in a block or ugly miss. Until Ronnie learns how penetrate using either hand, his potential to dominate a game will never come to fruition.

Yogi is also a much better shooter. I really like both players but I can’t agree with Ronnie Johnson as the better PG right now.

No need to wear blinders on this one just because I am a Purdue fan; this is Indiana and you better understand the game.

    Alex Moir on 4/30/2013 @ 2:05pm EDT Said:

    Makes sense ZC.

BoilerBob on 5/15/2013 @ 12:05pm EDT Said:

As the General once said “If you can’t play defense, you play zone” IU played too much zone and when Yogi has to man up hes not nearly as effective. Losing 4 starters will hurt Yogi because he was the 5th option on offense. Now he will be second, likely behind Sheehey. Ronnie will be improved. But only time will tell who is more effective. They are both equally gifted and should both have nice careers barring any injuries. Be carful IU on depending on freshman. Purdue saw the effects of this as did Kentucky. Top recruit doesn’t mean top class college player. That’s why they play the game.