If you look back, I am not too far off.
That does not make me a prophet, or anyone of particular consequence. Actually, it just means that I am lucky enough to have seen a few basketball games over the past couple years. It also means that I was either going to be right or wrong. Strange concept. But we are now in my favorite month of the year.
Here is the way I saw things ending up for each team:
Ohio State: If this team stays healthy, I would be shocked if they did not reach at least the Elite Eight. They are one of the two best teams in the league, and will duke it out with the Badgers for BT supremacy. I see 25-30 wins and a 1 or 2 finish in the BT race.
March 1 edit: Well, they are at 26 wins, top of the BT, and the top ranked team in the country. It did not take a rocket scientist to figure this team would be 'there' in the end. And, very few people will have them losing in the first two rounds of the Big Dance.
March 1 edit: With a win on Saturday at home against Penn State, the Hoosiers will be at 20-9 overall. Also, Gordon did change his mind and become a Hoosier. In the latest "Bracketology", they are a 10 seed. I guess two out of three is not bad.
Illinois: Another 20 win season and a trip to the NCAA Tournament is in the works. But, it will not be a very long-lived trip to the dance floor.
March 1 edit: 21-9 heading into the final game of the regular season in Iowa City this weekend. "Bracketology" master Joe Lunardi says they are an 11 seed.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes might surprise some people, but not me. I just cannot see them being more than a 5th place team in a league stacked with new talent. If they can gain some confidence and win a few games they are not expected to, the dim chance of getting an NCAA bid might be brighter. But, I see 17-18 wins and an NIT berth for now.
March 1 edit: After losing at PSU last night, the small amount of air left in the Iowa NCAA Tourney bubble was released. They are 16-13 and are headed to the NIT unless a miracle happens March 8-11.
Michigan: Amaker's boys will win 22-24 games and a 3-5 seed in the tournament. With a good draw and good health, a Sweet 16 run should be the worst scenario. But, at Michigan, strange things usually happen.
March 1 edit: The Wolverines are 20-10 overall, with a date against OSU this weekend. So, I missed on my prediction for them as far as wins. However, if they put something together in the Big Ten tourney and win it, I think a 3-5 seed is not too far out of the question.
Michigan State: I see around 20 wins and a top four Big Ten finish. With a possible Sweet 16 run in the Dance, because, remember, Mr. March is their coach and that has to count for something.
March 1 edit: Sparty sits at 21-9 overall and in a tie for 5th. They travel to the KC this weekend, and very few teams have won their in the Bo Ryan era - five to be exact. But, if they somehow win, coupled with an Iowa win against the Illini, MSU will be in a tie for 4th and have 22 wins.
Minnesota: When it is mind over matter, things get a bit dicey. For the Gophers, that will be the key all season. I just cannot see them improving much on what they did last year. If it were not for Ryan and Izzo, Monson is the best coach in the league. Around 15 wins and a date with the television in March.
March 1 edit: Dan Monson is no longer the coach at Minnesota. The team has won just 9 of 30 games played. And they are in dire straits on the recruiting trail. I think I gave too much credit for coaching, or the lack thereof.
Northwestern: While they may win a game, or two, that they have no business winning, it is going to be another long season on Chicago's north shore. The good news is they get the education paid for at an amazing institution AND get to play for a good coach. Perhaps that makes it easier to cope with winning just 12 games this year.
March 1 edit: The Purple folks actually have 13 wins, but have yet to beat anyone that could be called an upset. Maybe the DePaul game, but that is about it.
Penn State: Perhaps they slip back into the back side of the NCAA Tourney, but they would have to win eight games in the league to do that. I would love to see good guy DeChellis have that chance, but it is highly doubtful. 17-18 wins and NIT berth are in the cards...for now.
March 1 edit: I was definitely wrong on this one as the Nittany Lions have just 12 wins are in the cellar of the BT standings. But, in the beginning of the season you cannot predict injuries to key recruits and key players. Those are things that PSU could not afford.
Purdue: With Landry and Teague returning, this is a team that will win a lot of games. I see them making the NCAA tournament on the bubble...winning 17-20 games. Look for Matt Painter to be brushed with a few more endearing names this year.
March 1 edit: With one game left against Northwestern at home, the Boilers are sitting at 19-10. Painter has been dubbed the BT Coach of the Year by ESPN TV Analyst Steve Lavin, and by more than a few others. Landry is a 1st team all league performer scoring 19 per game, and Teague is adding 14. I think one win in the BTT gets them in the Dance.
LOOKING FORWARD and BACK
It is strange to see how things turn out. Outside of Minnesota and Penn State, I was pretty much on par with every team. I think I gave Michigan a little too much credit for having an upperclassmen dominated roster.
After the smoke clears, I see 5-6 teams making the NCAA Tournament. The locks: Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Indiana. The near locks: Michigan State. On the bubble: Illinois, Purdue, and Michigan. Who I think will end up in: OSU, UW, IU, and MSU. If anyone else gets in, it will be Purdue or Michigan.
I did not predict Wisconsin in the preseason, per se. However, I would have said 25-30 wins and a top two finish in the league. I also would have said that if a national championship was going to be won in Madtown, this would be the year.
I guess time will tell on that one. But when you have a great coach and good kids on a team, good things usually happen. Will it be a title?
Well, let's start with the Big Ten Tournament and go from there.
After all, it is March. Things begin to heat up now.