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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Big Ten Basketball Renaissance

The Big Ten is in the midst of a renaissance. With a deluge of elite coaches manning the ranks of the conference, the future is extremely bright for this old Midwestern college fraternity. With seasoned floor generals like Tubby Smith, Bo Ryan and Tom Izzo mixing with young proteges like Matt Painter and Tom Crean, each university is employing an elite basketball mind amongst its sidelines. With Thad Matta’s Buckeyes, Bruce Webber’s Illini, and Tom Crean’s Hoosiers all bringing in top ten recruiting classes next year, anything is possible for the conference with no real weak-links. Even annual doormats Northwestern and Penn State are showing signs of building competitive programs. No longer will the ACC be considered top dog for the next five years. No longer can Dick Vitale fawn over the mighty Blue Devil and Tar Heel basketball programs. And no longer can the Big 10 be associated with sluggish defensively focused basketball styles.
With all of this improved basketball on the pipeline, one wonders which teams will rise and fall? Next year Purdue will sport its best team since their ’94 Glenn Robinson Elite Eight team. The Boilermakers arch-rival; the infraction laden Indiana Hoosiers are beginning to rise from the ashes of NCAA sanctions by obtaining a highly rated recruiting class. Will both Indiana teams be able to share the throne of basketball power in Indiana? Same can be said for the three-headed monster of Michigan State, Michigan, and Ohio State. With each college fighting over recruits in the same fertile prep grounds of Michigan and Ohio; which school will see a decline in success? Tubby Smith’s arrival in Minneapolis has also spelled possible doom for Bo Ryan’s Badgers and their recent Big 10 success. Iowa’s hire of Todd Lickliter will also limit the effectiveness of the Ryan style of play and the many winning seasons it produced in Madison. Every team within this conference seems to have a shot at a special season within this upcoming decade. So sit back and enjoy the reemergence of one of the finest basketball conferences in the country.
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