Steep competition in the Big Ten

By Nader Ihmoud

The college hoops regular season is roughly three weeks away from beginning, and there is no clear front-runner in the Big Ten.

Five teams from the Big Ten have been ranked in USA Today’s preseason poll. The University of Indiana Hoosiers, who were ranked No.1 in the nation by the poll, are also voted by a panel of media as the favorites to win their conference.

“The attention the team has gotten is good,” said Hoosiers’ Head Coach Tom Crean. “They have worked really had to get back into the conversation.”

The coaches shared a similar testament throughout media day on Oct. 25. The league is stacked with great coaching and competitive teams from top to bottom. Along with the Hoosiers, the Ohio State University Buckeyes and the Michigan University Wolverines in the top five in the nation. The Michigan State University Spartans are ranked No. 14 and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Badgers are No. 21.

Buckeyes Head Coach Thad Matta said during his press conference that he tries to keep his sanity by not thinking about Big Ten basketball until December, “especially knowing how good this league is going to be this year.”

Tom Izzo, head coach of the Spartans, claimed the day was ruined when asked about the Big Ten’s depth by a reporter, during his press conference.

The teams in the Big Ten that are ranked nationally all have the core of their teams still intact from the previous season. The Hoosiers are returning all five of their starters including Cody Zeller, sophomore forward and Sporting News Preseason Player of the Year.

“Zeller epitomizes so many things about the program,” Crean said. “He’s confident, but he has a humbleness, and he has a desire to improve.”

Zeller was also a unanimous selection to the preseason All-Big Ten Team. The Wolverines’ sophomore Trey Burke, the Nittany Lions’ senior guard Tim Frazier, and the Buckeyes’ junior guard Aaron Craft and junior forward Deshaun Thomas were also selected to the team.

This season, the Big Ten tournament will be played in Chicago at the United Center March14-17. The Northwestern University Wildcats’ Head Coach Bill Carmody downplayed any edge Chicago’s Big Ten team will gain from playing so close to home.

“I don’t think it’s an advantage, but the fans will be able to get there more easily,” Carmody said.

The Wildcats were picked to finish ninth in the conference. Last year, they finished seventh and had a record of 8-10 against conference opponents and a 19-14 record overall.