Finally, we have something good to look forward too! Basketball season officially begins tomorrow as Purdue hosts Division I newcomer Northern Kentucky. I will have a preview available later, but in the meantime, I think I will pick every game in rapid fire succession and throw in some other Big Ten-centric predictions at the end.
Northern Kentucky - Win
Central Connecticut State - Win
Rider - Win
Eastern Illinois - Win
Siena - Win - Purdue has some serious issues if they lose any of the first five games. Only Rider, if they win their conference, is anywhere close to being an NCAA team.
Oklahoma State - Loss - Marcus Smart might be the Player of the Year, and things don't favor Purdue playing possible Players of the Year from Oklahoma at a neutral site.
Butler or Washington State - Win
Siena, LSU, Memphis, or St. Joseph's - Win - I think this game will either be St. Joseph's or LSU, most likely St. Joseph's if it comes on the loser's bracket side.
Boston College - Win - Purdue and Illinois are on the longest active win streak from either conference with four straight wins in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Eastern Michigan - Win - Yes, I would still pick last year's team to beat them. It was by far the worst loss for Purdue since the infamous Wofford game.
Butler - Win - This game lost its luster a bit when Roosevelt Jones was lost for the season and Brad Stevens left. Never overlook Butler though. They are still the state's premier basketball program in terms of recent postseason success.
Maryland-Eastern Shore - Win - UMES might be the worst team in Division I, so any close game is a disaster. We should be able to win starting Anfernee Brown, Stephen Toyra, Neal Beshears, and John McKeeman.
At West Virginia - Win - This is a turning point game for a young team in a true road environment. It's a potential resume win as well.
Ohio State - Win - I am not sold on OSU minus DeShaun Thomas, plus Purdue played them tough last year. This could be a close win.
At Minnesota - Win - Minnesota could be the worst team in the conference. Gotta beat them.
Nebraska - Win - Hold serve at home against the bad teams.
At Illinois - Win
Penn State - Win - Yes, the ingredients are there for a hot start in the conference with Ohio State the best team early on by far.
At Northwestern - Win
Wisconsin - Win - Remember the win in Madison last year? Replicate it at Mackey.
At Michigan - Loss
At Penn State - Loss - I really like their backcourt and Tim Frazier is good enough to get hot and steal a game or two. Penn State will be better than people think.
Minnesota - Win
At Ohio State - Loss - I am fine with a split.
Indiana - Win - Mostly because AJ think this is still going to be an easy IU win.
Michigan State - Loss
At Nebraska - Win
Michgian - Loss
At Iowa - Loss
At Wisconsin - Loss
Northwestern - Win
Final Record: 23-8, 11-7 Big Ten - This is greatly helped by getting the consensus bottom four of Northwestern, Penn State, Nebraska, and Minnesota eight times and only the likes of Michigan State, Indiana, and Iowa once.
Will Purdue win at least one Big Ten Tournament game - Yes
Will Purdue make the NCAA Tournament - Yes
Will Purdue win an NCAA game - Yes - I am very proud of the fact that Purdue has the longest active streak of first round NCAA wins at 14. I think if we get there, it keeps going.
NCAA teams from the Big Ten: Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Purdue
NIT teams from the Big Ten: Penn State, Northwestern, Illinois
A.J. Hammons - Will make one of the three All-Big Ten Teams
Terone Johnson - Will make one of the three All-Big Ten Teams
Ronnie Johnson - Will at least be honorable mention all-Big Ten
Bryson Scott - Will make all-Big Ten freshman team
Big Ten POTY: Gary Harris
Big Ten Coach of the Year: Fran McCaffery