We're approaching the Midnight Madness date for most of the country, or if you're Kentucky or Illinois, it's already passed! Although we're always excited about college basketball, it seems the rest of the blogosphere is starting to wake up to the sounds of a new season.
ESPN has apparently sent Dana O'Neil to hang out with Big 10 teams in the preseason. "Access" stories are my favorite kind, as opposed to the analysis pieces (yikes!). O'Neil has some stuff up about "Old Man" Marcus Landry, Bo Ryan's conditioning methods, and the trying times of being a basketball player on a football campus. Catch this bit of ESPN attention before the network returns to its regularly scheduled Big Ten bashing.
But other sites are starting to give some projections on the coming season. The Big Ten is not getting much respect this year (sniff), but that's nothing new. Neither is the notion that the Big Ten plays boring basketball, but that doesn't mean we can't defend our conference! So Storming the Floor, we respectfully disagree that Michigan State is "blander than bland." We're not even sure what it is that STF finds boring about the Spartans, but we can't imagine it's the style of play. MSU rarely shoots 3s, is a tenacious offensive rebounding team, and makes a high percentage of shots. You know who else is just like that? Media darling UNC, that's who! So if the Spartans are boring, then the Hustlin' Hansbrough's are equally dull, I say.
Not to pick too much on STF, but I think it's strange to predict a "breakthrough" season from Purdue. After all, this is a team coming off a 24-win season. The better time to predict a breakthrough might have been between the 05-06 and 06-07 seasons, when the Boilers went from 9 wins to 21. I certainly think the Boilers are headed for an excellent season...but that's not going to sneak up on anyone. If there is a breakthrough candidate in the Big Ten (Northwestern? Penn State perhaps?), it ain't Painter's team.
KJ has an excellent post up on the Spartans' defense. Goran Suton rates well, statistically, as I would expect. Consensus lock-down defender Travis Walton, on the other hand...well, maybe the numbers don't capture it, or maybe Nichols' Law is alive and well in the college game.
The Kelvin Sampson Situation just Won't. Go. Away. Tom Crean has a big job ahead of him. It's definitely a tough situation at IU, especially considering Crean was walking away from his most talented Marquette team this side of Dwayne Wade.
And finally, From the Barn has an interesting post that's sure to be fodder for signs in hostile arenas.