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Thursday, December 24, 2009

BCS Tournament - Round 2

Back for round 2. At this point, we've exhausted all the available bowls from cutting out the 6-6 teams. I suggest we continue the "rotation" of BCS stadiums for the final 7 games, including a new BCS bowl in San Antonio.

Currently, San Antonio hosts the Alamo Bowl which typically features mid-level Big XII and Big Ten opponents, and takes place on or after January 1. I think they can turn that place around and get an even bigger crowd in the 65,000 seats by featuring a 2nd round matchup the week before the Alamo Bowl.

Rose Bowl, Part 1 (Pasadena, CA) - 12/26
(1) Alabama vs. (8) Ohio State
Avg. Temp - 55 degrees
Avg. Precip. - less than .1 inches (none)
Avg. Wind - 7 mph (light)
Average Result - Alabama def. OSU 95% by score 26 to 6
Random Result - Bama 33 - OSU 10
Story: By the averages and numbers, you can see this one was never in doubt. Bama ran well in the first half, including 3 TDs of 20 yards or more. Ohio State managed to slow the bleeding, but the Tide kept kicking FGs in the 2nd half to put it away. Terrelle Pryor never got things going (8-22, 87 yds, 1INT) and neither did the Buckeyes offense.
POG: Mark Ingram (198 total yards, 1 TD)

Sugar Bowl, Part 1 (New Orleans, LA) - 12/26
(2) Texas vs. (10) Iowa
Avg. Temp. - indoors (70 degrees?)
Avg. Precip. - indoors
Avg. Wind - indoors
Average Result - Texas def. Iowa 100% by score 35 to 7
Random Result - Texas 35 - Iowa 3
Story: You might see this score and think, "Mack Brown and the Longhorns finally won a 'big' game decisively!"...not the case. Adam Robinson rushed for over 100 yards at about 7 per carry, and Iowa scored first on a FG. However, Colt McCoy managed 2 TDs and only 1 INT to ensure Texas made it to the semifinal. So where did the other 21 points come from? 7 field goals!
POG: Hunter Lawrence (7-7 FGs: 21,36,37,41,41,48, & 49 yds - 23 points)

*NEW* Lone Star Bowl (San Antonio, TX) - 12/26
(3) TCU vs. (11) Virginia Tech
Avg. Temp. - indoors (70 degrees?)
Avg. Precip. - indoors
Avg. Wind - indoors
Average Result - TCU def. VT 90% by score 33 to 13
Random Result - TCU 37 - VaTech 3
Story: TCU dominated every facet other than the passing game while the Horned Frogs D made Tyrod Taylor look awful. Hokies are usually a rushing team, and they managed just 91 yards on 2.3 per carry. TCU had 4 times as many rushing yards, with Tucker and Turner combining for 4 TDs on the ground.
POG: Joseph Turner (22 car, 152 yds, 3TDs)

Fiesta Bowl (Glendale, AZ) - 12/27
(4) Cincinnati vs. (5) Florida
Avg. Temp. - 53 degrees
Avg. Precip. - nearly 0
Avg. Wind - 5 mpg (light)
Average Result - Florida def. Cinci 95% by score 35 to 17
Random Result - Cincinnati 9 - Florida 30
Story: Florida's defense regains its form by shutting down Tony Pike and Mardy Gilyard. Apparently the Bearcats had a few too many coaching changes going into this one. Gilyard did provide a spark returning kicks with a 32-yard average, but offensively, Cincinnati didn't get on the board until the 4th quarter. Meanwhile, Florida rushed for 360 yards, with Tim Tebow out-rushing AND out-passing Tony Pike.
POG: Tim Tebow (204 pass yds, 2 TDs, 0 INT; 54 yards rushing)

Based on the blowouts in the Quarterfinal round, it seems to make more sense to run a 6-team playoff, I suppose. Iowa and Virginia Tech did manage 1st round upsets, but both lost by an average of more than 20 in this round (to be fair, so did Ohio State). I imagine Boise State and Oregon wouldn't lose quite as badly in the same matchups since both are known for high-scoring offenses, but that's not the way the cards fell.

Next week I'll finish this tournament up with the semifinals and finals. So far, not a whole lot of room to argue about the final 4...unless you're a die hard Blue Bronco!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Dec 21: Power 16

I'm going to start a feature here. Each Sunday I'll post a ranking of the top 16 (theoretical 1-4 seeds) teams in college basketball.  Here we go:

Team Record Key Wins
1 Texas 10-0 N-Pitt, N-UNC
2 Kansas 10-0 Michigan
3 Kentucky 11-0 N-Stanford, UNC
4 Purdue 10-0 N-Tenn, Wake Forest, @Alabama
5 Duke 9-1 N-Uconn, St. John's, N-Gonzaga
6 Syracuse 11-0 N-Cal, N-UNC, N-Florida
7 West Virginia 8-0 N-Texas A&M
8 Villanova 10-1 N-Dayton, N-Maryland, Mississippi
9 New Mexico 12-0 Cal, N-Texas A&M
10 Wisconsin 8-2 N-Maryland, Duke, Marquette
11 Mississippi 10-1 N-Kansas St.,  So. Miss
12 Kansas St. 10-1 N-Dayton, Xavier, @UNLV
13 Michigan St. 9-2 Gonzaga
14 Tennessee 8-2 none
15 Georgetown 8-1 Temple, N-Butler, N-Washington
16 Temple 9-2 Siena, Villanova, @Seton Hall

Comments are welcomed

Saturday, December 19, 2009

If I were GM of the Braves for a day...

By not offering 1b Adam LaRoche arbitration, one would hope the Braves had a plan on how to fill the void at first base and right field.  So far there's been no activity on their part while Nick Johnson, Hideki Matsui, Mike Cameron, have already signed.  It's pretty evident Atlanta has no interest in the top two free agents Jason Bay and Matt Holliday as well.  Well, then who should they sign to help the offense?Right now, it appears Atlanta's everyday lineup looks like this:

c: Brian McCann L
2b: Martin Prado R
3b: Chipper Jones B
ss: Yunel Escobar R
lf: Matt Diaz R
cf: Nate McLouth L

Bench: David Ross c, Diory Hernandez inf, Gregor Blanco of, Omar Infante inf/of

If/when Atlanta trades Derek Lowe they will have anywhere from $10-15 million coming off the books plus another $5-7 to spend.  Here is what I recommend:

1. Sign Vladimir Guerrero. Just do it. Pay him what he wants, seriously.  Vlad was hoping to be somebody's designated hitter but it seems those spots are all taken. Even Milton Bradley was traded to the AL to take up another DH spot.  Sign Guerrero and put him at 1b.  I don't care if he sucks over there. The Braves are desperate for a right-handed power hitter and Guerrero fits the bill.  Guerrero would probably demand a 2-3 year deal for $9-12 million annually.

2. Sign Randy Winn to a two-year deal. Randy Winn would be a perfect fit in right field and it's doubtful he would demand more than two years.  Atlanta could probably get him for $3-4 million also.  Winn also gives Atlanta leverage in 2011 on what to do with Matt Diaz and his arbitration case.

3. Give Jason Heyward an extended look in spring training.  Heyward is the #1 hitting prospect in baseball and deserves a shot to make the team.  If he does make it he would form the left-handed side of a platoon with Winn/Diaz in the outfield and give the team added depth when Guerrero goes down.

If these moves are successful here's what Atlanta's batting lineup would look like in 2010:
1. Nate McLouth cf
2. Martin Prado 2b
3. Chipper Jones 3b
4. Vladimir Guerrero 1b
5. Brian McCann c
6. Yunel Escobar ss
7. Randy Winn rf
8. Matt Diaz lf

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mike Cameron to BoSox: What does it really mean?

The Red Sox signed Mike Cameron to a 2-year deal this week with the intention of putting him in left field. Cameron is easily one of the best five or ten defensive centerfielders in baseball. When Jason Bay spurned the Red Sox for free agency Boston wisely snatched Cameron, whose overall value is underrated. There have been several articles/blogposts about how Cameron's value is at least equal to that of Bay.
All that is nice but I can't help but feel this move was made with something bigger in mind. Boston is the one park where you can hide a terrible defensive left fielder (Manny) for 81 games.

No, the recent rumors of Boston trying to trade for Adrian Gonzalez would seem to have merit. Any trade for Gonzalez would likely include Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz (hence Boston also signing John Lackey). If Boston doesn't make a big trade then they'll just have to settle for having what is likely one of the greatest defensive outfields of all time.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Most Overrated Outfielder traded to White Sox

Juan Pierre was finally freed of his role as "4th outfielder" with the Dodgers. The unfortunate thing for Chicago is that 4th outfielder is his perfect role. Juan Pierre - owner of 13 career home runs in 1400+ career games despite playing two and a half seasons in Coors Field - doesn't hit for enough (any) power to be considered a viable every day player. Yes, he does hit for a decent average (.301) but it's likely that once that skill starts to fade his OBP will really suffer as well since he doesn't walk much(career high of 55 in 2003). The skill he is most associated with is his speed until recently wasn't a very good baserunner despite being a threat to lead the league in steals. He takes poor routes to the ball as a center fielder and it's possible the only two outfielders with worse throwing arms are Johnny Damon and Jacoby Ellsbury. What makes this trade a real doozy is that he is owed a ton of money. These are the main reasons why I nicknamed Pierre "Moo" a few years ago (Most Overrated Outfielder).
That being said, Moo is still a player with uses. He's a left-handed hitter who makes good contact. Despite not having the power to be a prototypical corner outfielder he's above average defensively there. The main concern should be the fact he turns 33 in August. With his lack of secondary skills (power, OBP) it could be a fast, precipitous fall for Pierre. Combining his age with his personality complex (Spanish first name, French last name) would cause me to shy away from acquiring him.
I don't know where the Sox plan on playing Pierre this season but a LF platoon with Andruw Jones would make the most sense while playing Rios in CF and Quentin in RF. This could be a decent outfield but I wouldn't bet on it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Another blockbuster!

When Roy Halladay is involved in a trade you expect a lot of players to be moving. But would you expect one of those to be Cliff Lee? Me neither. Let's break it down.

Philadelphia receives: Roy Halladay SP, Phillippe Aumont RHP, Tyson Gilles, Juan Ramirez RHP
Yes, the Phillies get Halladay (and his 3 year extension + club option for a 4th) but was it worth trading the only real prospects they had? Only time will tell. Halladay is a top five pitcher in baseball and moving to the National League should provide a nice bump to his stats. But trading Lee for him doesn't improve the team much as you might think. This trade was most likely initiated due to Lee's unwillingness for a discount as opposed to Halladay who just wants to play for a winner. If he stays healthy it's likely his performance boost will be enough to cause Halladay's name to be mentioned as a possible electee to Cooperstown.
Aumont is a prospect with a decent arm but really, I don't see him turning into much more than a #3 starter. It's also possible he ends up in the bullpen. The only thing I know about Gilles is that he's perhaps the fastest player in the minors. Another Michael Bourn perhaps? Juan Ramirez is another guy who has tons of "stuff" but no idea how to use it. He could end up anywhere from a dominant reliever to a guy who never makes it.

Seattle receives: Cliff Lee LHP
Cliff Lee, as we all know, is a former Cy Young Award winner who made the transition to the Junior League with no problems. He was also the best pitcher in October last season. How Seattle found a way to finagle themselves into this deal is beyond me, but they will love seeing Lee take the ball every fifth day right behind Felix. This team just got a lot better.

Toronto receives: Kyle Drabek SP, Travis d'Arnaud C, Michael Taylor OF
Toronto is getting some really nice prospects here but where's the major leaguer? If Toronto could've pulled in someone like Brandon Morrow or even Michael Saunders this would be a huge get. Unfortunately neither was included leaving the Jays to hope that these three prospects hit their projected ceilings.
I love Kyle Drabek as a starter and agreed with the Phillies last year when they refused to include him in any deal. I know my buddy Keith Law feels there's nothing special about him (he'll probably say as much in his trade analysis) but I humbly disagree. Michael Taylor is a monster of a prospect who would make their outfield sickening except for the fact they turned around and traded him to the A's (more on that below). Travis d'Arnaud is a solid catching prospect and could end up performing like a young Jason Kendall (without the speed) but I think that's a little optimistic. I'm wondering if including him allowed Philadelphia to gain some leverage in this trade considering Toronto didn't have a single catcher on their 40-man roster Sunday.

Later, Toronto traded Michael Taylor to the A's for 3b prospect Brett Wallace. I'm not sure I really understand this but let me take a gander. Brett Wallace is not a good defensive player and it's possible he won't be able to play the hot corner for long. He appears to have the ability to hit for high average but I'm not sure he'll ever be much of a power hitter. I think this is what motivated the A's to deal him. Wallace is ready for an extended look in spring training and I won't be surprised to see him start the year with Toronto in 2010.

For Oakland, Michael Taylor immediately becomes the best prospect in the system. The A's have several prospects who can hit but only one who hits for power. Oakland tends to be moderately difficult on power hitters and I don't know how well Taylor's power will translate to Oakland's home park, but perhaps management felt it translated better than Wallace's skills since Oakland is known for suppressing batting average.

Philadelphia gets a win for improving their team (although slightly) this season. I'm still on the fence on whether or not they will be improved in 2014 because of it.

Seattle, tell your fans to get excited. With the league's best defense and now an incredible 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation, the Mariners have to be considered legitimate post season contenders. If they are able to shore up the bullpen then this team could be scary. Big win here.

Toronto gets some prospects I love but are missing the one major league player that allows me to say they get a win out of this deal. Instead they likely walk away getting a #2 starter whose had some history with injuries, a 3b who will hit for average, and a catching prospect who will be a solid but not spectacular starter.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

BCS Tournament: The Better Option

How to fix the NCAA postseason? Tournament! Not a 64-team tournament like basketball. Not a 32 or even 16-team tournament either. I want 12 teams like the NFL...4 top seeds get a 1 week "bye" and the rest have to pull off a wildcard style run for the title. ESPN has their tournament simulator up, but I don't like the formatting and result readouts, so I've done my own.

To accommodate for the extra games needed in a tournament, I say no more .500 schools get a bowl game. When you play 12 regular season games, 6-6 is not bowl worthy. My final stipulation is no more than 2 teams from any conference make the tournament. I am using's SimMatchup program, and I have set the field preferences to the average conditions for each of the stadiums involved (various websites).

Teams Out
  • Wyoming (6-6) - New Mexico Bowl (12/19)
  • Marshall (6-6) - Little Caesars Pizza Bowl (12/26)
  • Texas A&M (6-6) - Independence Bowl (12/28)
  • UCLA (6-6) - EagleBank Bowl (12/29)
  • Minnesota (6-6) - Insight Bowl (12/31)
  • Iowa State (6-6) - Insight Bowl (12/31)
  • Florida State (6-6) - Gator Bowl (1/1)
  • Michigan State (6-6) - Alamo Bowl (1/2)

Fortunately, there are an even number of teams above and no team that went 7-5 or better was left out of a bowl. If we can combine the widowed opponents from the above dismissals and use the vacated bowls at early rounds in the BCS Tournament.

BCS Tournament Seeds
1. Alabama
2. Texas
3. Cincinnati
4. TCU
5. Florida
6. Boise State
7. Oregon
8. Ohio State
9. Georgia Tech
10. Iowa
11. Virginia Tech
12. BYU (LSU & PSU would be 3rd from their conference)

New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque, NM) - 12/19
(5) Florida Gators vs. (12) BYU Cougars
Ave. Temp. - 35 degrees
Ave. Precip. - less than .1 inches (none)
Ave. Wind - 8 mph (light)
Average result - UF def. BYU 75% by score 30.3 to 14.6
Random result: Florida 30 - BYU 23
Story: The Cougars defense held Tebow to 39 yards rushing and took a 23-13 lead into the 4th quarter. However, Tebow tossed two TDs in the 4th, including the go-ahead with just over a minute to play.
Player of the Game: Tim Tebow (39 yds rushing; 10-14 for 136, 2TDs, 1INT)

Independence Bowl (Shreveport, LA) - 12/19
(6) Boise State vs. (11) Virginia Tech
Ave. Temp. - 58 degrees
Ave. Precip. - less than .2 inches (none)
Ave. Wind - 9 mph (light)
Average result - VT def. Boise 55% by score 31.8 to 33.1
Random result - Boise 37 - VTech 38
Story: Back and forth game featuring LOTS of offense for both teams. Avery rushed for 3TDs for Boise, but Brotzman missed 2 long FGs for the Broncos. Meanwhile, Ryan Williams had almost 300 yards rushing alone. Down 6 with 11 seconds to go, Tyrod Taylor threw the game-winning TD.
POG: Ryan Williams (24 carries, 297 yds, 2TDs)

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl (Detroit, MI) - 12/19
(7) Oregon vs. (10) Iowa
Ave. Temp. - indoors (70 degrees?)
Ave. Precip. - indoors
Ave. Wind - indoors
Average result - Oregon def. Iowa 65% by score 26.8 to 22.9
Random result - (UPSET) Ore 14 - Iowa 47
Story: Not representative of the average result, but that's why there are upsets. Ducks ran like crazy, but couldn't get any passing from Masoli. Meanwhile, Adam Robinson & Brandon Wegher combined for 5 TDs. Oregon scored first, but Iowa outscored them 31-7 in the 2nd half.
POG: Adam Robinson (25 rush for 143, 3TDs; 2 rec for 14 yds)

EagleBank Bowl (Washington, D.C.) - 12/19
(8) Ohio State vs. (9) Georgia Tech
Ave. Temp. - 46 degrees
Ave. Precip. - less than .1 inches (none)
Ave. Wind - 10 mph (medium)
Average result - OSU def. GT 95% by score 43.5 to 18.5
Random result -Ohio State 58 - Georgia Tech 27
Story: I'm a bit shocked by the number of points the Buckeyes put up in all the games! Georgia Tech was still in this one for a while, only down 8 entering the 4th quarter. Jonathan Dwyer rushed for 3 TDs for the Yellow Jackets, but 4 different Buckeyes combined for 7 touchdowns on the ground. OSU rubbed it in by kicking a FG with 7 seconds left to make up for the missed PAT on the previous possession.
POG: Terrelle Pryor (18 car, 67 yds, 2TDs; 9/18 passing, 168 yds, 1TD)

Round 2 Next Week!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

3 Team Blockbuster: Is the winner who you think?

I'm only going to blog a short bit on this because the media is probably going to overly analyze it.

Yankees get: Curtis Granderson CF
Granderson is considered a superstar by many though that is inaccurate. He has decent pop, plays very good defense, and is still fleet of foot. The problem is his complete inability to hit left-handed pitching. A .600 OPS isn't going to get it done. I just heard someone on ESPN say that part of Granderson's appeal is his personality. He's a guy everyone will love talking to and can handle any media market. For once I agree with you, ESPN. Touche.

Diamondbacks get: Ian Kennedy, Edwin Jackson
Why Arizona felt the need to become involved in a trade like this is somewhat baffling. Trading five years of Scherzer for Edwin Jackson fresh off a career year is puzzling. The only thing that I can conjure up is that Arizona feels there's an excessive inherent injury risk associated with him. Despite failing miserably in 2008, Ian Kennedy is worth taking a flier on. Sure he flopped in New York the first time around but he could be a fine back-end starter in the JV league.
If you're going to trade your best and most marketable player you better get something good in return. Luckily for the Tigers it appears they did just that. Austin Jackson was the Yankees #1 prospect in 2009 and will be expected to immediately step in to fill Granderson's shoes. Scherzer could go one of two ways. He could figure things out and be one of the top starters in the AL or get moved to the bullpen and become a dominant reliever. Schlereth is probably going to end up in the bullpen also but should be an excellent reliever. He's still a prospect so if Detroit wants to give him another go as a starter you couldn't blame them. Phil Coke is a failed starter that should be a LOOGY in the pen.

Verdict: The Tigers are probably the big winners here. Picking up four players who can step in and help the team contend for a division crown for a combined 22 years is an impressive haul. The fact that the team is saving almost $15 million makes this a huge win for the franchise.

With free agents Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui questionable to return, the Yankees get the missing piece to their outfield while giving up only #1 prospect and fringe arm. The only negative is if Granderson's production begins to tail off as he ages, it could become a bit of an albatross. Either way I think this move propels them back to the World Series.

Arizona gets a solid mid-rotation starter who last season threw harder than everyone else in the AL and a finesse pitcher whose skills were once overrated. I don't think we'll be able to properly analyze this trade for the Diamondbacks for several years. I'm not ready to call them the big loser just yet, but it would not be surprising if they end up that way.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

NCAA Top 25 - Week 13

Championships happened, and most of the teams I WANTED to win, didn't. I think everyone expects Texas to hold spot and take on Alabama for the Championship, even if there are other more exciting teams who could be there. This will be my final Top-25 poll for the season, since Bowl games are considered the post-season anyway. I'll do a Top-10 when it's all over.

1. Alabama - I didn't want to believe it, but Bama played good and hard and did what they had to, including making Tebow cry!
2. Texas - This game was exactly what I expected. Texas plays down in "big" games, and this was no different.
3. Boise State - Another meaningless ripping of a conference opponent. Can the MWC at least offer them a spot?
4. TCU - Had to think they were cheering pretty hard for a Husker upset as that might have put the Horned Frogs into a Title shot.
5. Cincinnati - Never expected a score that high. Weather hurt the Bearcats some, but helped them near the end when Pitt missed a PAT and only went up 6. Tony Pike saves the day and the BCS Bowl berth.
6. Florida - Didn't want to drop them this far, but they played bad and there are still 5 other undefeated teams.
7. Ohio State - bye they know for sure its Oregon Ducks in the Rose Bowl.
8. Oregon - Shootout for 3 quarters turned to a defensive battle in the 4th. I wish these guys could play Georgia Tech instead. That would be a highly entertaining bowl game I think.
9. Virginia Tech - It may not make sense that the Hokies are ahead of the Yellow Jackets since GaTech won the matchup earlier this year, but timing of losses is huge.
10. Penn State - Probably won't get a BCS Bowl since it will likely go to Iowa, but I think PSU is better right now anyway.
11. BYU
12. Georgia Tech
13. Utah
14. LSU
15. Iowa
16. Miami
17. Arizona
18. Central Michigan
19. Stanford
20. USC
21. Pitt
22. ECU
23. Nebraska
24. Oregon State
25. Wisconsin

Coming Soon:
BCS Tournament...the "better" option.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

2009-2010 Big Ten Preview Part 2

5. Michigan
Coach: John Beilein hopes this is the year. The entire starting lineup is returning from last season and another solid recruiting class adds depth. Sims and Harris are stars while Perry, Gibson, and Novak are great role players. The conference schedule is always tough but with a couple of superstars and a tricky zone defense this is the type of team that can get hot and make some noise in tournaments.
Lineup: G Laval Lucas-Perry, G Manny Harris, F Zack Gibson, F Anthony Wright, F DeShawn Sims
Bench: Zack Novak, Stu Douglass, Darius Morris, Matt Vogrich
Star: One of the most versatile players in the Big Ten, Manny Harris contemplated going pro at the end of last season. Not only is he the most likely player to lead the conference in scoring, he's also a threat for a triple double every night.
Top Freshman: Darius Morris is a big guard that will be a role player this season. Next year though - especially if Harris leaves - expect him to be on nightly highlight reels.
NCAA Seed: 7

4. Minnesota
Coach: Tubby Smith coaxed a fourth place finish out of last season's Gopher squad. This year the expectations are even higher. Ralph Sampson III is expected to take the next step to team with veteran guards Al Nolen and Lawrence Westbrook. The fact that Tubby seems to like coaching in Minnesota (as opposed to using this as a stopgap for a more prestigious program) has had a great effect on the recruiting. Once again, the Golden Gophers have a top recruiting class. The added depth and quality give this team an outside shot at the Big Ten title.
Lineup: PG Al Nolen, SG Lawrence Westbrook, SF Damian Johnson, Rodney Williams, C Ralph Sampson III
Bench: Colton Iverson, Devoe Joseph, Blake Hoffbarber, Paul Carter
Star: Nagging injuries have prevented Lawrence Westbrook from playing an entire season. If he's able to make complete a year unscathed, Minnesota will get some recognition on the All Big Ten team.
Top Freshman: Royce White. Minnesota's Mr. Basketball chose to stay in-state instead of attending other high profile schools like Kansas and Michigan St. A possible red-shirt season is likely to keep him off the court this year but he may be the best Gopher player since Kris Humphries or Bobby Jackson.
NCAA Seed: 6

3. Ohio State
Coach: Thad Matt has won two Big Ten championships, has gone to the national title game, and averages 25 wins a game. What more does he need to accomplish to be considered one of the elite coaches? For three straight years Ohio State has lost a 7'0" freshman to the NBA. Next season it is almost certain they will be without Turner. Luckily 2010 is probably the nation's #1 recruiting class. I don't know what else Matta can do to increase his recognition but winning 2 games in the NCAA Tournament seems likely yet again for the Buckeyes.
Lineup: SG David Lighty, SG William Buford, SG Jon Diebler, SF Evan Turner, Kyle Madsen
Bench: Dallas Lauderdale, Jeremie Simmons, PJ Hill
Star: Evan Turner is the best player in the Big Ten. No one else is capable of filling up a stat sheet as consistently. Without a true PG, Turner fills in. When the team needs to go small, Turner plays power forward. Expect him to be a lottery selection in the NBA draft.
Top Freshman: No freshmen on roster.
NCAA Seed: 4

2. Michigan State
Coach: Tom Izzo reached the national title game last year for what seems like the tenth time. This year's squad returns all the guards and has some solid freshmen as well. Unfortunately three big men have graduated leaving a gaping hole down low. Expect some struggles early in the year against taller teams particularly North Carolina. But these games will allow Izzo's youngins to grow into their roles as the Big Ten season gets underway. I think Ohio State is a better team but Izzo has worked magic before.
Lineup: PG Kalin Lucas, SG Durrell Summers, F Delvon Roe, F Raymar Morgan, F Garrick Sherman
Bench: Draymond Green, Chris Allen, Korie Lucious, Derrick Nix
Star: Kalin Lucas doesn't look like a typical big-time scorer but that's just what he is. The junior averaged 14.7 ppg last year and also took home the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Top Freshman: Garrick Sherman is starting as a freshman. Although he doesn't have the high ceiling most other freshman starters have had under Izzo, he'll be a solid Big Ten player for four years.
NCAA Seed: 3

1. Purdue
Coach: Matt Painter's desire to recruit players that will stay four years and gel into a team has paid off. The Baby Boilers are no more, instead they're a team ranked in the top ten that expects to compete for the Final Four. It's possible Johnson or Hummel could leave at the end of the season. If that's the result of a Final Four appearance I think most Purdue fans will tell you it's worth it. The 2010 recruiting class is similar to the one three years ago so it's hopeful the cycle is about to begin anew.
Lineup: G Kelsey Barlow, G E'Twan Moore, G Chris Kramer, F Robbie Hummel, C JaJuan Johnson
Bench: Keaton Grant, Ryne Smith, DJ Byrd, Patrick Bade
Star: Robbie Hummel's ability to hit the timely three and find the open man are qualities that make the Purdue team tick. The Boilers really struggled when he went down with a back injury last season.
Top Freshman: Kelsey Barlow is taking over at PG due to Lewis Jackson's foot injury. Long and quick, he has the potential to be an elite on-ball defender.
NCAA Seed: 2