This is just another in my series of off-season college hoops notes. Enjoy!
- DeAndre Kane is transferring from Marshall to Iowa State. Kane is a big add for a Cyclone team that likely will be trying to avoid a rebuilding season after an excellent campaign this year.
- This year was also a good one for the Big Ten. Unfortunately, with teams such as Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois expected to be substantially worse next season, the conference likely will not have the same clout as it did in 2012-2013. The good news is that there are also some teams from the conference that seem to be poised for improvement. Penn State is one of those. The Nittany Lions were so bad this season that there is nowhere to go but up and there are other reasons for optimism in Happy Valley beyond that. This year was the definition of a rebuilding season for the young Lions, who lost their superstar point guard Tim Frazier four games into the season. With Frazier out, D.J. Newbill, more of a natural 2, filled in at the point and developed his game, eventually having a monster season as he adjusted to the point. Frazier and Newbill will both return next season and should form one of the conference’s best backcourts. The Nittany Lions could be a worst to
firstmiddle of the conference story. Nebraska also should take a step forward. Their incredibly young roster struggled at times to score this winter. As they move forward the offensive issues should begin to dissipate and the Cornhuskers will begin to move up in the conference. Perhaps the team that will make the biggest jump next season will be Purdue. They went a long way this past season; they managed only 44 points in a loss to a very mediocre Eastern Michigan team in November and later dropped 69 and 89 points respectively in March in wins over defensively tough Wisconsin and Minnesota. If they can keep the momentum going from the end of last season, they’ll be looking at a 20+ win season. The last team I’m going to talk about is Northwestern. The Wildcats represent just about the worst program in big time college basketball and were putrid this winter. They should be MUCH better next year, mainly because Drew Crawford will return after missing most of this season due to injury and because the Wildcats made a big upgrade (I assume) when they replaced Bill Carmody (who did a terrible job at NU) with rookie coach Chris Collins who spent the past decade and change at Duke under Coach K. Their offense should be WAY better and defensive improvements could be forthcoming too. I wouldn’t be so bold as to pencil the ‘Cats as an NCAA Tourney team next season (they’ve never been one before), but I can’t see any scenario where they’re not much better. With Ohio State and Michigan State expected to anchor the top of the conference, the Big Ten certainly won’t be that much worse next season. It certainly will be deep.
- Yes, yes, yes, the ACC will be incredible next season, but I think that, with everyone talking about how good the new ACC is going to be (Coach K has done nothing to quell the expectations), the new Big East is being overlooked. You take a look at a conference with Butler, Villanova, Marquette, Creighton, Georgetown, AND St. John’s and you have to get excited. I just mentioned more than half the conference and all of those six teams will enter next season in or around the top 25. That’s something special right there.
- Yeah, the ACC is insane too.
- George Washington is updating the look of their basketball court. The new court is terrific and even features a hashtag (!!!!!) beneath one of its baskets. In the court’s first season, George Washington should also be one of the better teams in the A-10, even without Lasan Kromah, who is transferring to UConn. Former Villanovan and excellent rebounder Isaiah Armwood should lead the charge for GW. Also, Danish forward Kevin Larsen, Argentinian wing Patricio Garino, and American (yawn) guard Joe McDonald should continue to grow after making up a fantastic freshmen trio last season. McDonald is an athletic 1 with great potential. Garino has good size and can do a lot offensively. Larsen, meanwhile, is a great front-court compliment to Armwood with a bright future. As the trio progresses, GW should start to see some wins pile up. They could be headed for their best season since 2007, while they play on one of the coolest basketball courts since…ever.
- Not basketbally, but Ohio State is expanding Ohio Stadium. Like it wasn’t big enough already…