Friday, April 6, 2012

2012-2013 Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings

I understand the constant obsession with reading stories, analysis, and prognostications about sports.  Heck, it's why we started this blog, to have yet another place where you can get your fix of offbeat Purdue updates.

Therefore, I can't argue with the "why" of posting basketball projections less than one week after the season ends like folks have already done over and over - writers need topics and people love looking ahead, dreaming and scheming.  But what I can complain about is people getting all up in arms over these rankings, especially when it's not related to your own team.

Sure, it's natural to feel slighted when your team isn't viewed by the "professionals" as well as you'd expect, and to get giddy when your team is generating top-level buzz so many months prior to the first game.  Let those feelings last a few minutes, and then move on. Players may leave for the NBA or get injured, team chemistry can change, coaches can be lured away for better gigs, and the world can end on December 21.  It's not that hard to tell which teams are most likely going to be good and which teams aren't, but any effort to rank them right now is a waste of time.  You're probably assuming that I'm implying this due to the current basketball landscape, but rest assured this issue was just as frustrating even when Purdue was receiving media love prior to the 2010-2011 season.  A lot can change.

The only way to stop the early-April Madness is to stop caring.  Stop commenting on these posts, giving them page views (check out my links above that you thought were rankings), and wasting your time and energy debating the rankings to death.  Just stop.

I'm reminded of a quote from that famous hit of the 90's, The Critic: "It’s very simple: if you stop going to bad movies, they’ll stop making bad movies." If you stop caring about the most inane ultra-preseason rankings, maybe, just maybe, they'll go away.

So on that note, here are my 2012-2013 Big Ten Basketball season predictions!  Did you expect I'd take the high road? If other people can make rankings based on assumptions of what will and won't happen this off-season, mine are just as valid.

12. Nebraska

Famed athletic director, Tom Osborne, decides to pay attention to sports not named "football," and after hiring new coach Tim Miles, he lobbies the NCAA to make every other team's upperclassmen ruled ineligible so that his Huskers can have a "fresh start."  The Children of the Corn still lose every road game by more than twelve points.

11. Minnesota

Tubby Smith lives up to his nickname and gains 400 pounds in the off-season, making it impossible to leave his couch and coach the Gophers.  His son takes over, and as everyone expects, fails miserably.

10. Penn State

The Nittany Lions are exhausted after being forced to also play on the gridiron after half of the football team transfers.  Tim Frazier still builds off of his great junior season to lead the team in points, assists, and blocked field goals and gives the university something to be proud of, despite the losing record.

9. Michigan

The free-fall starts when Trey Burke leaves for the NBA.  Then, Glenn Robinson and Tim Hardaway both are suspended from the team when they brawl over whose father was better in the NBA.  The suspension only happens because the fight is caught on camera and injures 16 bystanders.  Also, Mitch McGary has academic "issues" and is ruled ineligible.

8. Northwestern

The team leads the league in turnovers after repeatedly passing to the ghost of John Shurna, who is still alive, although playing basketball in the wastelands of Eastern Europe.  The Wildcats again disappoint on their way to missing the NCAA tournament, but Cobb and Crawford have solid seasons.  Freshman and recipient of many "best name" awards, Sanjay Lumpkin, wins Big Ten Freshman of the Year in a shocker.

7. Iowa

Aaron White, representing highly underrated Strongsville, Ohio, has a fantastic year, and the team really gels with their large freshman class.  The team narrowly makes the NCAA tournament and rides a string of upsets to the Sweet Sixteen.  Fran McCaffery resigns at the end of the season to take a more lucrative job coaching women's basketball at Northern Iowa, stating "We've peaked!" on his way out.

6. Ohio State

While the Buckeyes are used to losing raw uncoordinated big men to the NBA, they can't fully recover when Deshaun Thomas and Jared Sullinger depart early (with graduating senior William Buford) to be grossly overpaid in the NBA.  Aaron Craft's winsome smile helps endear the team to the referees allowing the Buckeyes to average 25 free throws per contest, but without strong leadership the team under performs despite great talent.  It is later discovered that during a 7-game stint of conference play, Thad Matta is replaced with actor Gene Hackman and nobody notices.  The team goes undefeated during Hackman's tenure, making the NCAA tournament but failing to make the Sweet Sixteen after a narrow loss to South Florida.

5. Indiana

Cody Zeller shocks Notre Dame football fans statewide when he announces his intention to enter the NBA Draft, wisely realizing that his stock will never be higher after a depressing dinner with his brother, Tyler, who is heard muttering, "Stay in school, they say.  Win a national title, they say. Jackasses!"  Tyler is later drafted 22 spots behind Cody.  Christian Watford, realizing the Hoosiers are his team again, shoots an atrocious 33% on the year and is often seen bickering with the more talented freshman, Hanner Perea.  Jordan "Jordy" Hulls is unwilling to take a backup role to Freshman point guard Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell, arguing that he was there first and his nickname is "way cooler."  Tom Crean is hospitalized during the Big Ten Tournament and unable to coach the Hoosiers in the NCAA Tournament after clapping so hard the skin peels off of his hands.  Under assistant coach Tim Buckley, the team's play improves, leading them to the Sweet Sixteen where they once again lose to Kentucky, albeit a roster of completely different freshmen.  After the final game, a drunken Derek Elston is arrested for repeatedly trying to trip a police officer.

4. Wisconsin

Tide goes in, tide goes out.  Never a miscommunication.  Wisconsin finishes in the top four in conference play, led by a cadre of indistinguishable white goofballs.  You can't explain that. 

3. Illinois

Under new coach John Croce, Illinois experiences a renaissance.  Meyers Leonard's departure to the NBA makes everyone on the team happy, and DJ Richardson and Brandon Paul lead the Big Ten in shots taken, and surprisingly, shots made.  Playing most games with a 5-guard lineup, the Illini tear through the season but eventually lose to Kansas in the Sweet Sixteen after Bill Self reminds Illinois who's in charge.

2. Michigan State

Tom Izzo does it again.  Big man Adreian Payne dominates inside and is named first-team All Big Ten, and Derrick Nix showcases a new-found work ethic and slimmed down physique after kicking his weed habit. Sophomore Branden Dawson and Freshman Gary Harris have amazing seasons but wither under the hatred of the Paint Crew during their match-up in the Big Ten Tournament. In March, Michigan State returns to the Final Four, where they lose in a close game with Butler.

1. Purdue

C'mon, if I was going to make this as ridiculous as possible, of course that means the Boilermakers win and hang a banner.  I can't even bring myself to explain how this might happen, but that's how ridiculous off-season rankings can be. Just stop.

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