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Big Ten Geeks: Wisconsin 2013-14 Preview

It’s gotten to the point of cliche. “As long as Bo Ryan is head coach at Wisconsin, put the Badgers in your top 25.” We Geeks take pride in scoffing at conventional wisdom, but don’t some things become cliche for a reason? This is one bit of conventional wisdom with which we can’t really argue. With most programs, we can look at returning minutes, returning freshman minutes, and prior season efficiency margin, and we’re most of the way to a solid projection. Sure, we still look at how the pieces fit together, what the team’s strengths and weaknesses were, and what

Big Ten Geeks: Purdue 2013-14 Preview

It was a frustrating and disappointing season for Purdue basketball. For just the second time in the Matt Painter era, the Boilermakers missed the NCAA tournament, and they really weren’t even that close. Will things be better this time around? First, let’s look at our standard preview numbers for the Boilermakers: 2013 Record 16-18 (8-10) Conference Offensive Efficiency 0.98 (9th) Conference Defensive Efficiency 1.04 (9th) Percentage of Conference Minutes Returning 60% Percentage of Conference Minutes Played by Returning Freshmen 40% Purdue returns a middling amount of minutes overall, but that preponderance of minutes going freshman-to-sophomore points to meaningful improvement. Those

Big Ten Geeks: Penn State 2013-14 Preview

It was a lost season for Penn State after Tim Frazier went down with an injury. Can the Nittany Lions make up for lost time in Frazier’s final go-round? On the perimeter, this edition of the Nittany Lions should be able to compete with anybody. Tim Frazier returns from a ruptured Achilles, and he’s a legitimate all-conference player when healthy. D.J. Newbill struggled with his efficiency last season, but he should fare much better in a reduced role. Allen Roberts was asked to do too much at Miami (OH), but a swap of usage for efficiency (as is usually seen with

Big Ten Geeks: Ohio State 2013-14 Preview

Last season, the Ohio State basketball program just kept on rolling. Its run to the Elite 8 made it four straight seasons that the Buckeyes reached the Sweet Sixteen or beyond. Now, in the final go-round for Aaron Craft, will Ohio State be good enough to do it again? On the offensive end, the problem is obvious and considerable: replace Deshaun Thomas. Statistically, Thomas was absolutely dominant before leaving for a pro career. He took a full third of Ohio State’s shots while he was on the floor, and he rarely left the court. Sure, Thomas was a chucker that

Big Ten Geeks: Northwestern 2013-14 Preview

Change is afoot in Evanston, as the Northwestern basketball program moves away from the Princeton offense and into a new era. Will that change bring immediate success? After 13 seasons, the Bill Carmody era has ended. It can be easy to forget after last season’s struggles, but Carmody elevated the Northwestern basketball program from “horrid” to “mediocre” in his time there. To wit, the Wildcats made four straight NITs before last season’s injury-plagued  campaign.  Four NITs might seem like a silly accomplishment to tout, but let’s not forget that this program went to only three NITs over its entire pre-Carmody

Big Ten Geeks: Nebraska 2013-14 Preview

Enthusiasm is running high as Nebraska basketball enters Year Two of the Tim Miles era. As our season previews roll on, let’s take a look at just how much improvement can be expected from the Huskers. Tim Miles’ first season in Lincoln would have to be called a rousing success. His Huskers won five conference games, finished ahead of both Northwestern and Penn State, and knocked off Purdue in the Big Ten tournament. That may not sound like much, but it was an impressive showing for a squad that was presumed a near-lock to occupy the cellar. Even more encouraging,

Big Ten Geeks: Minnesota 2013-14 Preview

Last year, the Gophers started out strong but ended the season on a low note. Soon after Minnesota was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament, Athletic Director Norwood Teague made a change at the top, dismissing Tubby Smith after 6 seasons at the helm. Richard Pitino has taken over the program at the ripe age of 31. He’s younger than me, and he probably doesn’t use Facebook much because it’s not cool anymore. 2013 Record: 21-13 (8-10) Conference Offensive Efficiency: 1.04 (4th) Conference Defensive Efficiency: 1.04 (8th) Percentage of Conference Minutes Returning: 48 Percentage of Conference Minutes Played by Returning Freshmen:

Big Ten Geeks: Michigan State 2013-14 Preview

Michigan State won 27 games last year, the 5th time in 6 years it’s won at least that many. But more is at stake this year. Below, I’ll look at whether Tom Izzo can get back to the mountaintop. 2013 Record: 27-9 (13-5) Conference Offensive Efficiency: 1.06 (3rd) Conference Defensive Efficiency: 0.97 (3rd) Percentage of Conference Minutes Returning: 86 Percentage of Conference Minutes Played by Returning Freshmen: 29 The Streak—Every four-year player that Tom Izzo has recruited, has played in at least one Final Four. Michigan State fans have this factoid locked and loaded for any debates about where Izzo

Big Ten Geeks: Michigan 2013-14 Preview

Last year Michigan started and finished the season on a red-hot streak, going 18-1 against teams from other conferences. This year, the team will be without its star point guard, but there’s still plenty of talent in Ann Arbor. 2013 Record: 31-8 (12-6) Conference Offensive Efficiency: 1.12 (2nd) Conference Defensive Efficiency: 1.02 (6th) Percentage of Conference Minutes Returning: 64 Percentage of Conference Minutes Played by Returning Freshmen: 53 Why is John Beilein still the coach at Michigan? I know that seems like a silly question, but consider that over his first four seasons, Beilein went 67-67, and amassed a conference

Big Ten Geeks: Iowa 2013-14 Preview

Last year Iowa returned to respectability, amassing 25 wins for the first time since Steve Alford was the coach. This year, I look at whether Iowa can realistically get its first Big Ten title since Magic Johnson was in college. 2013 Record: 25-13 (9-9) Conference Offensive Efficiency: 1.01 (6th) Conference Defensive Efficiency: 0.97 (4th) Percentage of Conference Minutes Returning: 89 Percentage of Conference Minutes Played by Returning Freshmen: 28 Considering how successful he’s been in rebuilding the Hawkeyes, the silence surrounding Fran McCaffrey’s impact on the program is deafening. Sure, the insiders and folks around Iowa City certainly believe in