[quote=“PSUQuaker, post:2, topic:405”]Northwestern: A+. I’m amazed with how well they’ve handled the Coble injury…maybe that first NCAA tournament bid is still well within their reach, something I didn’t think I’d be saying three weeks ago.
Purdue: A. They’ve lived up to expectations. I still think missing Jackson (possibly for the year?) could hinder them. But they do have good depth and a healthy Hummel makes all the difference…didn’t we see that last year in the postseason. I think they’re a near lock for a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the dance and they could be in line for their first Final Four in almost 30 years.
Michigan State: B+. Seems like another typical Izzo team. They’re super talented, yet not even close to playing at their potential at this point in the season. So, they’ll take a couple losses against good teams in the typical murderer’s row of conference play. I think the Big Ten comes down to them and Purdue, not that that is any kind of breaking news.
Ohio State: B+. Aside from the national runner-up team (Oden was just that good), I’ve felt Ohio State didn’t equal the sum of its part the past few years…and I’m probably not the only one to feel that way. I think this team, however, could be…and they might be the challenger to MSU/Purdue at the top of the league. I think having Lighty back really helps them defensively.
Wisconsin: B+. Maybe they could be in the A range, but I guess I’m a tough grader. Coming in, I thought this might finally be the year that they slid back a little bit to 7th or maybe even 8th in the conference. As usual, I’m wrong. They look really solid to me…but I guess we’d expect nothing less from Bo Ryan.
Illinois: B. Last night definitely helped the GPA for these guys. I’m not as sold on the young guys as NittanyIllini is, but I think they’ll definitely get better and be really tough in February…while still having an occasional game where they just look like freshmen. Weber has done a nice job rebounding there, because I thought after the misses on top recruits, Scheyer and Gordon, along with that putrid '07-'08 season, things were getting a little dicey for him. Still in my bottom rung of Big Ten teams that I personally like, but have to give them tons of credit…especially for showing some toughness last night.
Penn State: B-. Charleston is the only thing keeping this down for me. If it had just been one disappointing loss, I think it would be a B or a B+. But we, am I allowed to say we?, looked so uninspired those last two games. Not really anymore analysis than that, since things have been covered in other threads, but I’m still really, really looking forward to watching this team play (even though I know there are going to be frustrating nights).
Indiana: C+. Up front, I don’t like IU and wish a thousand plagues on the hallowed halls of Assembly Hall. But this team does give maximum effort and Crean has them on the bench if they don’t. So, they’re sort of, somewhat fun to watch. I really like Watford and Creek…good young players. I think they’ll beat some conference teams at home, too.
Minnesota: C. Three-game skid, but I still think these guys are pretty good. Maybe the grade is a little low, especially since every loss has been by two possessions or less. At the same time, however, they sort of remind me of Ohio State (a less star-rated crew) of the past couple years. There are a lot of nice parts, but they don’t seem to be playing well together. Hopefully they don’t start doing that until after their Big Ten opener on Dec. 29 against you know who.
Michigan: D. Most disappointing team, by far, to me. I may have overrated them for sure, but I thought they’d be in the mix as the league’s third best team. I’ll also acknowledge they’re probably the team I’ve seen the least of, having only watched their Old Spice opener against Creighton and bits and pieces of a couple other games. But they’ve looked like they looked in Happy Valley last year…just wildly jacking shots off one or two passes. I still think they have enough to be a second weekend NCAA tournament team, but they have really underacheived in my mind.
Iowa: F. The effort was there against Texas and Hokie Tech…but other than that, these guys look awful. This isn’t a Sampson job at IU, this is the team that Lickliter has somehow brought upon himself (with the exception of the Jake Kelley situation). He ran off Alford’s guys. He ran off JUCO guys that he brought in. He ran off some of his own recruits. I’m sure they’ll still pull a shocker or two in conference play (just please say it’s not us again), but 3-15 in league play is something for which they should strive.[/quote]
Good stuff Quaker. You’re a little tougher on the grades, but I also take into account what these teams were expected to do this season and factor that in. So as poor a team as they are, I find it hard to give Iowa an “F”. Maybe Michigan deserves that letter…but for other reasons ;D
As for the Illini, I think I got a little caught up in the afterglow of the great comeback. They will probably be like Minnesota this season and be up and down, as exhibited by their Jekyll and Hyde act in the first and second halves of Wednesday’s game. B+ is more like it for now. But I have been very impressed by both Paul and Richardson. Those two led the team to the comeback with tremendous play on both ends of the court.