With Connecticut’s 53-41 victory over Butler on Monday night, the 2010-11 basketball season is officially complete. Much to my disgust, the Big East won the national crown after I bashed the conference for being highly overrated all season. It looked smart early on in the tournament, as the Big East seemingly suffered an upset or more every day. OK, enough Big East talk. Here are my 12 things to watch in the Big Ten during the 2011-12 season:
The Big Ten men’s basketball regular season is over. Now, it’s time for the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse, home of the NBA’s Indianapolis Pacers and WNBA’s Indiana Fever. Watch now as Indianapolis prepares for the arrival of the Big Ten teams and as the Big Ten teams descend upon Indy for their chance to punch a ticket to the Big Dance.
Former Northwestern tennis player Katrina Adams flew under the radar as a high school star. A 16-year-old senior, questions over her young age kept many of the scholarship offers from coming. She wanted to play for Southern Cal or UCLA, among others, but the Chicago product had to settle on staying close to home. Adams isn’t bitter about how her tennis days played out, and for good reason. Adams had a great career at Northwestern and went on to win 20 doubles titles during her 12-year professional career.
The 2010 Big Ten men’s soccer season was a ringing success. Five of the conference’s seven teams made it to the final 16 of the NCAA tourney, headlined by Michigan’s fantastic run to the College Cup. The MLS, you can say, took notice. A total of seven Big Ten players were selected in the annual MLS draft and will now embark on their professional careers. Among the seven drafted was Indiana star Will Bruin, the Big Ten Player of the Year.
Michigan’s run of dominance at the Big Ten Women’s Gymnastics Championships was in serious doubt until the very end of the 2011 meet in Minneapolis. The Wolverines (196.600), however, finished strong on the beam and floor to edge out Penn State (196.375) and Illinois (196.075) en route to claiming their fifth straight Big Ten crown. The fact the victory was so close and that it came down down to the very end made it all the more rewarding, Michigan coach Bev Plocki said: “That makes it that much sweeter, because they did it under pressure.”
BTN host Mike Hall loves going across Big Ten country and learning how to play sports he’s not, um, very good at. Hall visited East Lansing, Mich., more specifically Munn Arena, recently to get some pointers from a trio of Spartans, Torey Krug, Drew Palmisano and Derek Grant. Hall isn’t the best skater in the world, so how did his session? Not all that well. Check out inside
Well, I didn’t envision writing 2011-12 Big Ten hoops look-aheads quite this early, but following Ohio State and Wisconsin’s Sweet 16 defeats, it’s that time. These will certainly change before next winter, considering possible roster changes and coaching moves. That said, check out way-too-early initial 2011-12 Big Ten hoops power rankings: