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Thursday, December 29, 2011

NCAA Conference Power Rankings: Final list of 2011

In January I'll begin doing the Power 16 and soon my NCAATournament predictions while continuing the mid-major rankings.  I've been asked to do another conference power ranking this month and I think now is a good time.  This way we can kind of see how all the conferences stack up with each other before conference play really swings into full gear.

Matt Carlino's transfer from UCLA has been a
revelation for BYU and the entire WCC.
  1. Big Ten - The entire conference enjoyed non-conference play while picking up numerous quality wins including Kentucky and Duke.  Have eight or nine teams with legitimate NCAA Tournament aspirations while Ohio St. may be the best team in the country.  Non-conference record: 123-28.
  2. Big 12 - There's only 10 teams in the Big 12 this year and with the losses of Nebraska and Colorado the conference as a whole is improved.  Kansas, Baylor, and Missouri look like potential Final Four teams.  Non-conferenc record: 91-24.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Looking Back: Last Chance for Quality Wins

Happy Holidays everyone!  This week marked the last opportunity for many teams to make a statement before the conference slate begins this week.  Here are several games from last week that caught my eye:

Resume Building Wins

  • Creighton 87 - Northwestern 79: Creighton is now 3-0 against the best conference in the country, the Big Ten.
  • Oklahoma St. 69 - Alabama 52: This is a big victory by a team who's expected to finish in the middle of the Big 12.  Alabama is a strong contender for the SEC West crown but this loss should only provide further evidence about how much better the Big 12 is than the SEC.
  • Indiana St. 61 - Vanderbilt 55: Another big win for the MVC over a sure thing NCAA Tournament team.
  • Davidson 80 - Kansas 74: This is the biggest win for any team this season.  Davidson is now a legit mid-major at-large team.  
  • UNLV 85 - Cal 68: The Runnin Rebels have effectively moved on after being humbled at Wisconsin.  This is a team that could win a couple of games in March.

Missed Opportunities

  • Illinois 74 - Missouri 78: The Illini hung tough for the entire contest but never could get over the hump. If they struggle in BIG play then this loss will hurt.
  • Missouri St. 68 - West Virginia 70 (OT): This game is one that not only hurts Missouri St. but also affects the entire MVC.  Getting a win versus a quality Big East foe on a neutral court would've added to the credibility of the entire conference.
  • Dayton 64 - Seton Hall 69: Dayton will have a hard time finishing in the top three of the A10 this season so non-conference wins are a great opportunity to prove they're still an NCAA team. Losing at home to a bottom half Big East team does not help.
  • Northwestern 79 - Creighton 87: I know I've already mentioned this game but for a team who has NEVER (seriously, this is the only BCS school to have never made the NCAA Tournament) qualified for the Big Dance marquee wins are important. Finishing in the middle of the Big Ten won't be enough.

Damaging Losses

  • Xavier 82 - Hawai'i 84 (OT):  Their two losses to Oral Roberts and Long Beach St. shouldn't come as a surprise after the fallout from their fight with Cincinnati.  The loss to Hawaii, however, hurts. Xavier is an NCAA Tournament team, no doubt, but this one will hurt their seeding.
  • Purdue 65 - Butler 67: Losing a game you've led for 39 minutes to a team who is not expected to qualify for the NCAA Tournament hurts.
  • Washington 72 - South Dakota St. 93: This loss could really affect the RPI for the entire Pac 12.  Washington is arguably one of the top three teams so a bad loss to an average DI team in a non-power conference could have ugly ramifications.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

NCAA Basketball: Mid-Major Conference Predictions

We've gotten some decent traffic on the site when putting a new post up about mid-majors.  As a follow up to yesterday's post discussing my conference predictions and NCAA Tournament predictions, I've construed a similar post for the most successful mid-majors.  Take a look below:

Colonial Athletic Association
Conference Champ: VCU
Other contenders: George Mason, Georgia St., Old Dominion, Drexel
Multiple Bids?: 50%
We all remember what VCU did last season and though they lost several starters they appear to be the best team.  Georgia St. and George Mason are also right there and it's anybody's guess who wins the league. Based on the success of this conference in past NCAA Tournaments I could see a bubble team getting the benefit of the doubt on Selection Sunday.

Horizon League
Conference Champ: Cleveland St.
Other contenders: Milwaukee, Butler, Valparaiso.
Multiple Bids?: 25%
Cleveland St's loss to South Florida may prevent them from earning an at-large bid if they fail to win their conference tournament.  Still, they've looked the best in the early going and remain my pick to win their league.  Milwaukee looks to be their biggest challenger but I refuse to discount Butler after their success the last two seasons.  Valpo may be a stretch but have already beaten Butler to start the conference season.

NCAA Basketball: Conference Predictions

The non-conference portion of everyone's schedules draw to a close this week.  After a weekend off for the holidays, the NCAA basketball season really gets started with conference play.  Some conferences will sort themselves out quickly while others may not ever (see Pac 10 in 2009) have a clear-cut order.  One thing is sure: conference play is where the majority of teams build their resume for postseason qualification.  A strong showing in January and February can override a ghastly start in November.  With the NCAA Tournament now selecting 68 teams to the foray, there's an extra four bubble spots to be won. Below I've gone through all the "Power" conferences and projected how things will shake out.

Conference Champ: North Carolina
Likely Tournament Teams: Duke, Virginia, Florida St.
Need a few breaks: Clemson, Virginia Tech,  Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina St.
Wait til Next Year: Maryland, Wake Forest, Boston College
The two things that stick out the most to me about the ACC are 1) the conference isn't nearly as good as everyone thinks it is and 2) the only team capable of winning a championship is North Carolina.  Virginia has been a pleasant surprise and Florida St. is consistently a tournament team.  The middle of the conference will have a couple of teams receive bubble interest but I doubt more than five schools make the tournament with four the most likely outcome.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mid-Major Rankings: December 2011

It’s time for another Mid-major Power Ranking!  I’ve done a lot of thinking and have decided to overhaul the teams eligible.  There is no clear-cut definition of a mid-major in college basketball.  Obviously the Big Six are excluded (Big East, Big Ten, Big12, SEC, ACC, Pac12) but what about leagues such as the Mountain West which routinely sends multiple schools to the NCAA Tournament and has teams ranked all year long?  
I’ve decided that mid-majors should be classified as:
  • Leagues that do not have Division I football and
  • Leagues that hope - not expect - to have a school selected as an at-large bid.

For instance, even though the Missouri Valley Conference is at this juncture are the best mid-major conference, they do not have DI football and will therefore be included.  The Atlantic 10 does not have Division I football (the schools that do join another conference such as Temple with the MAC) but routinely expect multiple schools to participate in the NCAA Tournament and are thereby excluded.  Thus, the precedent is set and these are my rankings:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Major League Steroids

I'll save the longer, more in-depth analysis for Anderson, but with the announcement last night that 2011 NL MVP Ryan Braun has been busted for juicing, I had to write something.

I've heard there are studies out there that "prove" that steroid use does not correlate or cause increased performance. There is also the res ipsa loquitur approach of "the thing speaks for itself" that players getting busted are the ones putting up outstanding performances.

Whatever side you fall on, I need to say this...
  • Top 6 single-season Home Run Performances: Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, McGwire, Sosa, Sosa. All either proved, admitted, or super-duper highly suspicious users.
  • All-Time Home Run Leader: Barry Bonds. Also in the top 10: McGwire, Sosa, A-Rod...see above.
  • Oldest pitcher to win a Cy Young: Roger Clemens...same story. Also #3 all-time in strikeouts.
Even if you don't think PEDs can make you swing harder or throw faster, most people would agree that they speed recovery. That's the type of thing that can keep you on top of your game late into your 30s or even your 40s, thus padding the career/all-time stats.

If you take the "suspect" players off the single-season HR records list, only Babe Ruth (twice) and Willie Mays have hit more than 51 HRs after age 31. That's 3 completely honest performances by guys over 31 out of the top 31 overall. That should make you think that maybe power-hitting after 30 is quite a rare, HOF-worthy feat.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Marlins find money under couch cushions, add Jose Reyes

ESPN reported today that Jose Reyes agreed to a six year $102 million contract. I blogged earlier that the Marlins had money to spend but still actually seeing them use it is a bit of a shock. In 2011 Reyes led the league in batting average and triples and even scored 101 runs despite playing in only 126 games.  It was perhaps the finest all around season of his nine year career which is a good thing for a player in their prime years but perhaps a sign of caution for any team looking to sign him to a long-term deal.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Champions Crowned - Top 25 (12/4/11)

So many chances to give the BCS Committee a collective middle-finger this weekend.....squandered. Or maybe not. As Oklahoma State puts the finishing touches on Oklahoma, and Wisconsin  just took the lead after their own version of the Hail Mary revenge against Michigan State, I think it's safe to say we know who will be playing for the National Championship. But few outside the SEC are happy about it.

Read on, young souls.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Mid-Major Watch: Ranking Potential At-Large Teams

I don't know how much basketball everyone is watching and it's way too early to start talking about bubble teams for March Madness, but the talking heads over at ESPN keep saying it's going to be a "chalk year" in the NCAA Tournament.  What they mean is they expect the top seeded teams to move along without many upsets occurring along the way.  After watching several games the last few weeks, I've come up with the opinion that the major conferences are not that deep this season.  It may be a chalk year but I believe we can expect several mid major conferences to have multiple schools qualify for the Big Dance and this is something I like.
Below I've ranked a baker's dozen schools who could earn an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Creighton may rely upon Doug McDermott too much.
Then again, he's so good why not use him as much as possible?
  1. UNLV - When you beat the best team in the country your NCAA Tournament profile looks good.  They'll look for an encore in a bout with Wichita St. this weekend.
  2. Gonzaga - Play Illinois this weekend in a game that will say a lot about where the Zags are right now.  I believe they're the best team in the West Coast Conference and new addition BYU will only add to the conference resume.  Other non-conference games include Michigan St., Arizona, Butler, and Xavier.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Big Ten/ACC Challenge Preview Part 2

Well, that was interesting. The Big Ten took four out of the six games last night with Ohio St. stealing the show by routing Duke.  Tonight the BIG looks for their third straight Challenge title.

Indiana @ North Carolina St. (Wednesday ESPN2, 7:15pm)
Indiana looks improved this year and even has a couple of decent wins over Evansville and Butler as proof.  However, this looks to be their toughest game yet and will be used as a measuring stick for their progress.  They've done a great job shooting the ball and defending two point shots which may be largely attributed to freshman Cody Zeller. NC State also has been effective scoring this season and defending twos but have been burned by the three.  Taking care of the ball may be the Wolfpack's greatest strength so there likely won't be a lot of empty possessions on their end. IU will have to overcome this with excellent shooting of their own if they expect to prevail.
The Pick: IU gets hot from downtown and wins in a barn burner 80-74.

Big Ten/ACC Challenge Preview

This week the Big Ten/ACC Challenge will kick off for the thirteenth time.  ESPN created this event as a way to match the two best basketball conferences up against each other in an attempt to prove which conference had more game (ratings, anyone?).  The ACC won the first ten challenges, even winning eight of the eleven matchups in 2006 and 2007.  In 2009 the Big Ten finally proved victorious when Ohio St. beat Florida St. in the final game of the challenge. Last year the Big Ten won the challenge again by an identical score of 6-5.  With the addition of Nebraska, this year will mark the first time each conference has an equal number of teams (12) so no one will be left out.  Maryland has the longest active winning streak (6) and Iowa has the longest losing streak (5).  Here’s a look at this year’s matchups:

Michigan @ Virginia (Tuesday ESPN2, 7pm)
Virginia gets to host one of the BIG’s contenders in the tip-off game.  They’ve excelled on the defensive side of the ball thus far (Drexel only managed 35 points on Nov 19) while playing at a pace Wisconsin would be proud of.  Michigan’s only loss thus far came at the hands of Duke in the Maui Invitational.  Michigan loves to shoot a lot of 3’s but as a team are shooting 62% on their 2’s. It will be interesting to see if Michigan's offense can crack Virginia's stout defense.
The Pick: Michigan in a nail biter 61-58.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

One Week to Go - Top 25 (11/27/11)

I think we all know USC is banned from playing in the Pac-12 Championship and a post-season bowl game, but I didn't realize they were not even allowed to appear in the Coach's Poll and BCS rankings until this past week.

But back to pressing matters: for all the big ticket matchups and upsets of the past few weeks, the Thanksgiving rivalries resulted in almost no surprises. That sets everyone up for a weekend of Conference Championship games and last ditch efforts to play spoiler next week.

Here's where we stand.

Friday, November 25, 2011

BCS Bowl Projections

I started this post a few weeks ago, and then the big weekend of upsets happened and I didn't get back to it. Since tomorrow night I'll be hitting the bottle pretty hard (Ticknor's bachelor party), I figure tonight is a good excuse to do some blogging about the upcoming (and final) announcement of BCS qualifying schools.

Basic rules are that no more than 2 teams from a single conference can be selected to the 5 BCS Bowls (Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta, BCS Title) unless the #1 and #2 teams in the final BCS rankings are from the same conference, and by some miracle, neither is the conference champion.

[Scenario for that last bit: If Arkansas beat LSU tonight (say 13-10) and the new rankings reflected Arkansas #1, LSU as #2, and Bama as #3. Then Arkansas then loses to Georgia in the SEC title game. 3 SEC schools in BCS bowls (Georgia for the automatic bid, and LSU & Bama in a rematch for the Championship).]

The SEC champion is tied to the Sugar Bowl; the Big Ten and Pac-12 to the Rose Bowl; the Big 12 to the Fiesta Bowl; the ACC to the Orange Bowl. The Big East champion is guaranteed a BCS bowl entry through 2013 but is not tied to a specific bowl.

Finally, assuming that the #1 and #2 ranked schools in the final BCS rankings represent 2 conference champions (as in 2010 with Auburn and Oregon), their corresponding tie-in bowl games receive 1st and 2nd choice of remaining automatic qualifiers and at-large teams, respectively. They cannot "steal" schools based on the previous qualifications above.

If Notre Dame finishes in the top 8 of the BCS, the Irish get an automatic bid. A top 12 finish gives them a chance at one of the at-large spots, but they have only cracked the BCS three times since its inception in 1998. Any other school from a non-major conference can crack the BCS with a few other stipulations. Boise State is the best explanation by example.

Enough talk, more NUMBERS!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Early Season Observations: 3 Good & 3 Bad

There's been a lot of games early in the basketball landscape making it hard to digest all that's happened.  It's still way too early to believe everything you see but there have been some telling signs also.  Here are some of the things that have stood out to me thus far.

         The Good
  1.             The Big Ten: In my preseason Power Rankings I listed the Big Ten as the third best conference.  If I were to do an update now I’d say they are number two.  Ohio State still seems like the only team who will contend for a national title but rest of the conference have played better than expected.  The conference has a combined record of 36-5 with the worst loss being to Creighton on a neutral floor (though Penn St. was never in their game vs. Kentucky).
    2.       Kentucky Wildcats: Every year Calipari reloads with a top-10 recruiting class. And every year Calipari’s teams are among the youngest due to players leaving early for the NBA.  Well, this Kentucky team looks good and I expect them to be in the top 5 all year.
    3.       Creighton Blue Jays: Creighton was hyped up as being one of the top mid-major teams this preseason.  ESPN pumped them up so much I was sure they were doomed. Well, so far so good for these Blue Jays.  A nice win over UAB gave me hope they would play Iowa well in Des Moines in what Vegas had pinned as a close game (Creighton -1.5).  The game was never close as Creighton led by 16 at half time and won by 23.  This bodes well for the MVC.

    The Bad

    1.       Colonial Athletic Association: A year after sending George Mason, VCU, and Old Dominion to the NCAA Tournament last year, Drexel was voted as the preseason favorite in the coaches’ poll.  They’re now 1-2 with a loss to Norfolk St. (finished 269 in the RPI last year) and a loss to Virginia in which they only scored 35 points.   Old Dominion is 3-2 but was crushed by Northern Iowa and George Mason is in another rebuilding year.  There won’t be multiple bids in the conference this year.
    2.       Utah Utes: Last year the Mountain West was a pretty formidable conference and, although not good, Utah held their own.  Now in the Pac-12 it looks like it could be a long year.  In their opening game, Utah squeaked by San Diego Christian for a three point win.  They followed that up by getting crushed at Boise St (not a good basketball school) while Saturday they lost at home to Montana State.  Things don’t look to get any better this week when they take on a Harvard squad who returns their entire roster from last year.
    3.       UCLA Bruins: If UCLA were to play Utah right now I’m not sure who would win. UCLA is 0-2 with both losses coming at home, neither of which was to a power conference team (Loyola Marymount and Middle Tennessee St.). Also, neither was close.  The Bruins now head off to Hawaii where they’ll play Div II Chaminade in the first round of the Maui Invitational. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Upset Weekend - Top 25 (11/20/11)

As I write, I'm watching Andrew Luck finally get his chit together in the 2nd half, and it looks like Stanford will avoid being another top 10 victim this week. The same cannot be said for 4 of my other Top 10s from last week. I'll keep the commentary short for most of the winners to save room for the upsets.

But who deserves the title game?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Miami Marlins: A Major Player in Free Agency?

I recently read on that the Marlins are looking to make a splash in free agency and have hosted Albert Pujols.  At the end of his visit the Marlins made a contract proposal which they believe to be competitive in the hopes he will be in uniform next season to kick of their new stadium.  Now Miami (doesn’t that sound weird?) is looking at Jose Reyes and has recently said they would like to sign him in addition to Albert Pujols.  They are also considered the odds on favorite to land Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes.  Last season the Marlins ranked 13th in the National League in players salary.  This was actually an improvement as they ranked 16th (last), 16th, and 14th in 2008-2010. How can a team in their economic situation expect to be able to sign one – let alone two – free agents this offseason?  Or is this just a marketing ploy to show the fans that they’re trying to improve the club as they begin the next chapter in the franchise’s history?  

Follow the jump to see how realistic these aspirations really are.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Scandal Subsides, Football is Played - Top 25 11/13/11

I'm posting from abroad (Nebraska) today, so I'll keep it short and sweet. With a different channel lineup, there was less focus on the SEC games and more focus on the Big XII. Also, I had the opportunity to watch a full game featuring the Pac-12 since LSU v. Oregon in week 1.

Here's what this weekend taught me. Kansas State is better than I thought. Texas is worse than I thought. I was right about Oregon. Boise State still doesn't deserve National Championship consideration...and should focus on kicking more than trick plays.

Now, where does that leave us?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Preseason Conference Power Rankings

Obviously these rankings are compiled purely on my best guesses on what will happen during the season.  Once the games begin and we have some statistical evidence, my opinions will change. Basically, don’t put too much stock into these. Let the games begin!

1.       Big East - Every year this conference sends at least eight teams to the tournament. I expect that to hold true to form in 2012 with multiple teams vying for a 1 or 2 seed.
2.       Big 12 – No more Nebraska! No more Colorado! Really, these two schools weren’t that bad last year but they’re not tournament contenders either.  A ten team conference that sends five or six schools dancing plus a national title contender in Kansas make this conference look good.
3.       Big 10 – The BIG lost a lot of talent after last season but there are some great freshmen on campus.  Six teams will likely go dancing with the possibility of eight come March.
4.       SEC – Last year the SEC was just mediocre.  That’s partly due to it being young. Now Alabama is ranked, Kentucky seems poised to grab a 1 seed, and a few other schools look to join them in the Big Dance.  The divisions remain imbalanced so we’ll have to take it for it’s worth.
5.       Atlantic Coast – This is going to be a down year for the ACC.  Duke and North Carolina look good as usual but the bottom of this conference could be awful.  That’s never a good thing for your Strength of Schedule (SOS).
6.       Atlantic 10 – This conference isn’t really a power conference but it’s no mid-major either.  Xavier and Temple are two excellent programs who will make some noise this year. The middle of the conference appears average so expecting four bids again may be a stretch.
7.      Pac 12 – New additions Utah and Colorado won’t help this year.  This conference has been plagued by mediocrity of late and I’m not sure it’ll be any different in 2012.  Arizona is overrated in my mind while other contenders Washington, UCLA, and Cal all have big time flaws. The Pac12 is helped by its solid second tier.
8.       Missouri Valley – With the supposed reemergence of Creighton, the MVC appears to gaining steam as the top mid-major.  Also worth watching are Wichita St., Indiana St., and UNI.  This conference is always fun to watch; it’s kind of like the Big 10’s little brother in terms of style.
9.       West Coast – This is Gonzaga’s year!  I doubt that to be true but all the previews I’ve read expect a big improvement from last season. St. Mary’s remains very good, but the team that pushes this conference into the top ten is BYU.  That’s a very nice trio.
10.   Mountain West – New Mexico St. and UNLV appear to be the front-runners this year. No BYU will hurt the RPI but Colorado St. is improving and San Diego St. will still be good. Two bids is a safe bet and three won’t be a surprise.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

2011-12 BIG Basketball Preview: Season Predictions

Now that the individual team previews are complete I'd like to do my predictions.  Hopefully these will turn out to be more accurate than my 2011 MLB predictions.  Remember, the season kicks off Friday but Big Ten conference games won't begin until the final week of December.  That's a lot of games before the real season starts. We'll likely learn who's really good and who's really bad but won't learn how the middle of the conference stacks up until they begin playing each other head to head. 
A special thanks goes out to Ken Pomeroy for making advanced statistics available to everyone on the internet. His website made information gathering simple and has been a valuable tool in many of my NCAA basketball posts. 
Take a look after the jump to see my guess at how it'll all shake out:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

2011-12 BIG Basketball Preview: Wisconsin

Coach: Bo Ryan – 242-91 (.727)
Lost:  F Jon Leuer, F Keaton Nankivil, G Tim Jarmusz
Returning: G Jordan Taylor (Sr), G Josh Gasser (So), F Mike Bruesewitz (Sr), F Ryan Evans (Jr), C Jared Berggren (RS Jr), G Rob Wilson (Sr), F Duje Dukan (So)
Jordan Taylor can do it all. If not for some guy named
Sullinger Taylor would likely be the #1 candidate for BIG POY.
New faces:  G Traevon Jackson, G George Marshal, C Frank Kaminsky, PF Jarrod Uthoff(149), C Evan Anderson (Redshirt)

Preview: Every year Wisconsin finishes in the top third of the Big Ten. This year they’ll have their work cut out for them as two very important cogs graduated.  Luckily for Badger faithful 1st Team All Big Ten guard Jordan Taylor returns.  In 2010-11 Taylor only turned the ball over on 8.5% of his possessions while playing point guard. Low rates like that are unheard of. He’ll need to sustain his excellent shooting touch while taking more shots this season if the Badgers are going to remain at the top of the conference.  Also returning is sophomore Josh Gasser who shot 60% on his two’s but only 30% on threes.  He’ll need to improve his accuracy from long range to spread the defense and help relieve the load off Taylor.  Wisconsin returns a plethora of large bodies, none of which do anything that stands out but all of whom can be expected to be excellent rebounders while solid post defenders.  Typically freshmen do not make much of an impact in Madison but the team may be looking for that to change specifically in regards to Jarrod Uthoff.  Uthoff is listed at 6’8” and has a pretty good looking outside shot.  I think the team will hope he can take the role left by Keaton Nankivil as he grows into his body and learns the system. He may be the most athletic player on the team, too.  Regardless of how Wisconsin attempts to fill the void left by their departing seniors, I don’t think it would come as a surprise to expect them to play even slower than last season (58.0 possessions per game) in an attempt to maximize offensive possessions and to try to keep the game close.  Bo Ryan has his work cut out for him.
Shot in the dark at the starting the 5:
PG Jordan Taylor
G Josh Gasser
F Mike Bruesewitz
F Ryan Evans
F Jared Berggren

2011-12 BIG Basketball Preview: Purdue

Coach: Matt Painter - 138-64 (.683)
Lost: F JaJuan Johnson, G E’Twuan Moore
This was the last time Robbie Hummel stepped foot on a court in a
NCAA game.  Purdue fans are ready to put this image behind them
and hope Robbie can lead this young team back to a BIG championship.
Returning:  F Robbie Hummel (RS Sr), PG Lewis Jackson (Sr), G Kelsay Barlow (Jr), F DJ Byrd (Jr), G Ryne Smith (Sr), G Terone Johnson (So), F/C Travis Carroll (So), F/C Sandi Marcius (RS So), G John Hart (RS Jr),
New faces:  F Donnie Hale, PF Jacob Lawson, G Anthony Johnson (Redshirt)

Preview: Each of the last two seasons Boilermaker fans believed not reaching the Final Four would be considered a disappointment. We all know what happened.  Now Hummel is healthy (presumably) but without fellow classmen JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore.  Perhaps the most fundamentally sound player in the conference, Hummel is able to score from anywhere on the floor, is a strong rebounder, excellent passer, and a solid defender.  He will need to transform his game from facilitator to scorer in order for the offense to be successful, no small task for an unselfish player.  Also returning is waterbug point guard Lewis Jackson.  LewJack is grease lighting at getting to the rim but his inconsistent outside shot allows defenses to sag and clog up the middle. His intense on-ball defense and improved free throw shooting make him an asset to have on the floor.  Fellow guard Ryne Smith hit 44% of his threes last year and will need to duplicate that success again to keep defenses honest.  Kelsay Barlow and DJ Byrd are excellent role players capable of guarding the 1-4 positions while scoring just enough.  Without JaJuan Johnson a quartet of players will be looked upon to make up for his lost production. Travis Carroll and Donnie Hale are the more gifted offensive players while Sandi Marcius and Jacob Lawson (if he doesn’t redshirt) can cause nightmares on defense.  There will likely be a lot of mixing and matching throughout the season to maximize matchups.  But the team will be looking most anxiously at guards Terone and Anthony Johnson to be scorers. Terone struggled with his shot last year but showed he can slash to the basket.  Anthony can fill it up but will need to show his defense is ready to play for Painter.  It will likely take several games for these players to gel and find their roles on the court - and with Painter’s track record there’s little reason to expect they won’t – but once they do, with their bullying defense and methodical motion offense Purdue will be a team no one wants to face. 
Shot in the dark at the starting 5:
PG Lewis Jackson
G Ryne Smith
G Terone Johnson
F Robbie Hummel
F Travis Carroll