Big Ten Basketball: Team Preview — Teams in Need of Help — Part II
There are plenty of good teams in the Big Ten; good enough to play in the NCAA Tournament. Not all will ascend that far of course, a victim of league record and difficulty. The first part of the series predicted one team, Northwestern, as a team with little chance of making the tournament. Part two will discuss teams that at least have a shot at making the big dance, but good things will have to go their way. In short, help is needed, primarily from teams that falter, thought to be ahead of them.Four teams fall into this category. One of the four could slip into the tournament, but two or more is a possible but still improbable event. The four teams are Penn State, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Purdue. All have successful non-conference records, but so do the more premiere teams. Eventually, teams will lose enough games to fall under the 19 or so wins needed to be in true contention for tournament selection. Some of the above teams have played very average non-conference competition, frankly a good idea if thought to be headed for the bottom half of eventual conference standings.
Penn State is well coached and plays with very good focus. The best news is that premiere guard, Tim Frazier, returns after a season ending injury last year. Penn State finished the preseason at 9 and 4, playing many traditional area opponents. The Lions will have a nice blend of talent and experience.
Scoring has not been a problem this season for Penn State as the team averaged over 81 points in non-conference play. The foul shooting has been excellent. Three-point shooting is slightly above average, rebounding is average and seven players are averaging over seven points per game.
The guard play will decide Penn State’s ultimate standing within the league. Besides Frazier, the Lions will put on the floor Pitt transfer John Johnson and D.J. Newbill. The inside scoring remains a concern.
Nebraska is another team that has upgraded the basement of league teams. Raising the talent level will give Nebraska a real chance at league victories. Nebraska has lost four games during a decent non-conference schedule. The Huskers did provide the league a win over Miami in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.Nebraska continues to upgrade the athletic talent in the basketball program compared to the initial Big Ten Season a couple of years past. On the surface the combined statistics garnered so far indicate some ascendency. Still, it will be hard for Nebraska to crack the league standings enough to finish in the top seven. The close games will need to go the way of the Huskers.
Like Michigan, Nebraska has many talented 6’ 6” swingmen, led by Terron Petteway and Shavon Shields. Both are averaging around 15 points a game. Shields and big 250 pound Leslee Smith lead the rebounding, although the team has demonstrated no board dominance throughout the non-conference slate. Petteway is a good three-point shooter and overall the Huskers are shooting about 35% from deep. This is about a going rate for successfully using the three-point shot. Foul shooting has been typical (70%) and turnovers have been low. The Huskers have some good depth at true guard and swingmen.
Next up is a review of the other two teams that will need some help to finish high enough in the league standings to make the NCAA Tournament: Minnesota and Purdue.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Doc4Blu
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