Words of Wisdom From The Windy City

CHICAGO-In HoosierNation.com's coverage of Sunday's Big Ten Tip-Off Luncheon, read what Michigan State's Paul Davis and Iowa Coach Steve Alford had to say about the Hoosiers' lofty preseason media ranking; who Alford would have picked as his preseason top three; and how Matt Leinert has nothing on Illinois' Dee Brown when it comes to class selection.

Paul Davis, who joins Dee Brown and D.J. White on the preseason all-conference team, thinks that as many as eight or nine Big Ten teams can make the NCAA tournament this year. That may sound like a stretch, but that was the norm on Sunday as everyone from Bruce Weber to Tom Izzo to Steve Alford to Mike Davis talked about the depth of this year's Big Ten.

MSU's Davis mentioned four teams when asked whom he thought would challenge for the Big Ten - Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and of course, the Spartans.

"I think it depends on how Indiana comes out and starts the season," Davis said. "Not just the Big Ten season, but the season in general. I think they're going to be one of the top teams."

And what does Davis think about IU's newest big man, Marco Killingsworth, a player that the 6-11 Davis will get to meet up close and personal under the basket when the two teams meet on Jan. 11 in East Lansing?

"I think he's from Auburn, big guy, 6-8 or something," Davis started.

"It just adds to their team," he continued. "Getting a transfer into a conference or onto a new team, he's out to prove something, so everyday he comes out he's gonna prove something. Playing against a Michigan State or an Illinois, a Wisconsin, the powerhouses of the league, when those games come around those transfer players are going to want to come out and make a name for themselves.

"We look forward to that, we welcome the target on our backs," Davis said. "We're just going to go out and play basketball and let our playing speak for us."

Alford not so sure
Iowa coach Steve Alford isn't quite sure where the dip from contenders to pretenders takes place this year when you look at the Big Ten.

It's his theory that in any conference you can tier the league, something along the lines of putting the premiere teams up top, followed by the sleeper and the average teams on the next level and finally on the bottom tier the bottom feeders.

When it comes to this year's Big Ten, Alford's having trouble seeing the divide.

"I think it's hard to get a clear cut favorite and I think it's hard to tier this league this year," Alford said from his table in the ballroom on Sunday. "I think a majority of the teams are going to be better…I think every team likes what they're seeing this year better than last."

At the same time, Alford, the former Hoosier guard, did somewhat question IU's selection as the third best team in the league.

"I've always been a firm believer, and it's the players the same way, that those that have been on top they stay on top until somebody proves them different," Alford said. "You know Indiana sneaked in there - I think you all had Indiana in there - that may be a little bit different because Wisconsin hasn't done anything to warrant not being talked about in the top three. I think my picks today would have been Illinois, Michigan State and Wisconsin.

"Those are three teams that have been there and they know what it's about and the players know what it's about and until someone else can say differently, that should be who's ranked in the preseason," Alford said.

Save the last dance
Much has been made in the national media about USC quarterback Matt Leinart, last year's Heisman Trophy winner, playing this season while taking only one class at Southern Cal – ballroom dancing.

Well, Leinhart can't hold a candle to Dee Brown, let alone a tap shoe.

Brown, who put his name into last year's NBA draft only to remove it after breaking the fifth metatarsal in his right foot at the Chicago pre-draft camp, hasn't seen a classroom this year.

"I have no classes, so all day my life is stress free," Brown said. "I just got to worry about watching film, getting better and make my teammates better. So I'm living a wonderful college life."

Brown is completing an internship with the Illinois Sports Information Department, the last requirement needed for his bachelor's degree in sport management.

During his trials and tribulations with the Illini SID's office Brown has gained a little insight into the press that on this day spent a lot of time trying to gain insight into him.

"The media loves to eat," Brown said. "You all love to eat. You all write, you all love free meals."

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