B1G Basketball Primer

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Last updated: 11/09/2012 5:45 AM
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Men's Basketball
Big Ten 2012-2013 Basketball Primer
By Tony Gerdeman

The college basketball season gets kicked off tonight so what better time to get you primed for what promises to be a memorable Big Ten basketball season.

Here's a glimpse at what each team has returning this season.

Illinois
Last Season: 17-15 (6-12)
Returning Starters: 4
Lettermen Returning: 9
Non-Conference Notables: Georgia Tech, at Gonzaga, vs Missouri

New head coach John Groce will look to bring his explosive three-guard attack to Champaign, and he's got the guards already in place to do it. Point guard Tracy Abrams will lead the way for scoring guards D.J. Richardson (11.6 ppg) and Brandon Paul (14.7 ppg). The Illini also add graduate transfer Sam McLaurin (10.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg) from Coastal Carolina, who is that school's all-time leader in blocked shots (155).

Indiana
Last Season: 27-9 (11-7)
Returning Starters: 5
Lettermen Returning: 11
Non-Conference Notables: vs UCLA/Georgetown, North Carolina, vs Butler

The Hoosiers are the preseason #1 team in the nation, so that should tell you the level of talent returning. Sophomore center Cody Zeller averaged 15.6 points per game and 6.6 rebounds per game last year, and is a National Player of the Year candidate. Christian Watford, Jordan Hulls and Victor Oladipo all return this season after each averaging over 10 points per game last year. Top newcomer Yogi Ferrell could be the team's point guard.

Iowa
Last Season: 18-17 (8-10)
Returning Starters: 3
Lettermen Returning: 10
Non-Conference Notables: at Virginia Tech, Iowa State

Iowa returns three starters, all at least 6'6" and who can shoot from the perimeter. Shooting guard Roy Devyn Marble is the leading returning scorer (11.5 ppg), and is joined by versatile forwards Aaron White (11.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg) and Zach McCabe (7.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg). Much is expected of White this season after a promising freshman campaign last year. Speaking of freshmen, look for the Hawkeyes to start a freshman point guard, as well as a center this season. Point guard Mike Gesell scored 18 points in 19 minutes in Iowa's last exhibition game, and rookie center Adam Woodbury is a talented 7'1" prospect.

Michigan
Last Season: 24-10 (13-5)
Returning Starters: 3
Lettermen Returning: 10
Non-Conference Notables: NIT Tip-Off, NC State, Arkansas, vs West Virginia

Much is expected of the Michigan Wolverines this season, as they find themselves ranked fifth in both the Coaches and AP polls. Point guard Trey Burke (14.8 ppg, 4.6 apg) is the key returnee this season, after toying with the NBA last season. Shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (14.6 ppg) also returns, and will look to improve upon his consistency. Several other guards will highlight Michigan's three-point shooting attack, but keep an eye on freshmen wings Glenn Robinson III, who has impressed during the exhibition contests, and Nik Stauskas. Also, freshman Mitch McGary was one of the top prep centers in the nation over the last couple of years.

Michigan State
Last Season: 29-8 (13-5)
Returning Starters: 3
Lettermen Returning: 11
Non-Conference Notables: vs UConn, vs Kansas, Texas

The Spartans lose Draymond Green, but return fellow big men Derrick Nix (8.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg) and Adreian Payne (7.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg). If they are both on the court at the same time, they should do very well in terms of interior defense. Point guard Keith Appling (11.4 ppg, 3.9 apg) is one of the Big Ten's best players. Swing man Brandon Dawson (8.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg) has recovered from an ACL injury, and he will need to provide some scoring on the wing. Freshman guard Gary Harris, a McDonald's All-American, is expected to begin the season in the starting lineup.

Minnesota
Last Season: 23-15 (6-12)
Returning Starters: 4
Lettermen Returning: 11
Non-Conference Notables: vs Duke, at Florida State, at USC

The return of monster forward Trevor Mbakwe from his knee injury will tell the story for the Gophers this season. As he improves, so will they. Supremely athletic forward Rodney Williams (12.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg) also returns, and will bring an array of dunks with him. Guards Julian Welch (9.5 ppg), Andre Hollins (8.7 ppg), and Austin Hollins (9.2 ppg) provide a very balanced backcourt for Tubby Smith. Joe Coleman (5.8 ppg) provides a fourth guard, but the Gophers have to find some help in the front court.

Nebraska
Last Season: 12-18 (4-14)
Returning Starters: 1
Lettermen Returning: 8
Non-Conference Notables: at Wake Forest, USC

The Huskers return one starter from last season in forward Brandon Ubel (6.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg). Other than that, Nebraska and new head coach Tim Miles are going to be looking for anybody they can find to provide minutes. The entire roster is filled with players who have yet to really live up to what little billing they have. It is going to be a rough first year for Miles, as Nebraska should bring up the rear of a talented Big Ten conference.

Northwestern
Last Season: 19-14 (8-10)
Returning Starters: 4
Lettermen Returning: 7
Non-Conference Notables: Maryland, at Baylor, Butler, Stanford

Northwestern will not only have to find a way to replace the school's all-time leading scorer John Shurna, but they'll also have to find somebody to take his minutes in the paint. Swing man Drew Crawford (16.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg) was a third-team All-Big Ten selection last season, and will be one of the top scorers in the conference this season. The Wildcats return a slew of other guards as well, including point guard Dave Sobolewski (8.3 ppg), who was a member of the Big Ten's All-Freshman team last year.

Ohio State
Last Season: 31-8 (13-5)
Returning Starters: 3
Lettermen Returning: 9
Non-Conference Notables: vs Marquette, at Duke, Kansas

The Buckeyes lose Jared Sullinger and William Buford, but return one of the Big Ten's best offensive threats in Deshaun Thomas (15.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg), as well as the conference's best defensive threat in point guard Aaron Craft (8.8 ppg, 4.6 apg, 2.5 spg). Lenzelle Smith Jr. (6.8 ppg) and Craft will be the conference's best defensive backcourt. The Buckeyes have to find another wing that can score, and they need to find a reliable center, but those players should be fairly easy to locate.

Penn State
Last Season: 12-20 (4-14)
Returning Starters: 3
Lettermen Returning: 9
Non-Conference Notables: vs NC State, Boston College

Point guard Tim Frazier scored 18.8 points per game last year (second in the Big Ten) and led the conference in assists with 6.2 per game. He is a Big Ten Player of the Year candidate, but too often finds himself on the losing end of a valiant effort. Guard D.J. Newbill is a transfer from Southern Miss who scored 9.2 ppg and 6.2 rpg as a freshman two years ago. Penn State needs their front court to emerge so that Frazier doesn't put too much on himself.

Purdue
Last Season: 22-13 (10-8)
Returning Starters: 2
Lettermen Returning: 8
Non-Conference Notables: vs Villanova, at Clemson, Xavier, vs Notre Dame

Purdue loses Robbie Hummel and three key members of their backcourt from last season. Guard Terone Johnson (7.1 ppg) is the leading returning scorer and will have to better his numbers from last season. Anthony Johnson (5.4 ppg) and D.J. Byrd (5.7 ppg) will help round out the backcourt. Watch out for true freshman point guard Ronnie Johnson as well. Center Travis Carroll (2.0 ppg, 2.4 rpg) has 20 career starts, but the Boilermakers need more production than he can provide. Big freshmen Jay Simpson (6'9") and A.J. Hammons (7'0") will have opportunities.

Wisconsin
Last Season: 26-10 (12-6)
Returning Starters: 3
Lettermen Returning: 12
Non-Conference Notables: at Florida, vs Creighton, Virginia

Bad news struck a little over a week ago when guard Josh Gasser tore an ACL and was lost for the season. His shooting will be missed greatly. His absence will need to be picked up by guard Ben Brust (7.3 ppg), who twice made seven three-pointers in a game last season. The front court of Jared Berggren (10.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg), Mike Bruesewitz (5.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and Ryan Evans (11.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg) returns, and will continue to provide elbows and defense. Another guard will need to emerge, perhaps sophomore Traevon Jackson (1.1 ppg).

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