6. Michigan State’s Gary Harris, healthy and picked in the preseason as the league’s top player, should have a big year. Stars always help a conference’s buzz factor, but the marquee names are in other leagues. Andrew Wiggins was proclaimed king of college basketball before he unpacked his socks in his dorm room at Kansas. But Izzo predicted Harris will turn out to be “one of the great all-time guards at Michigan State.”
7. The Big Ten, considered a muscle league, should make a smooth adjustment to the new rule cutting down defensive contact. In other words, try to keep the total fouls under 70. You wonder what this might do to the Big Ten’s defensive ace, Aaron Craft, who is back for what, his seventh year at Ohio State? Thad Matta said Craft moves his feet well enough to not be bothered.
We’ll see how it all turns out, but Purdue’s Matt Painter warned that if the season games are called like some of the exhibition games have been, “We’re going to have a lot of good players watching basketball.”
8. The Big Ten should pick off a few of the juicy early non-conference showdowns. Michigan State over Kentucky, or Michigan over Duke, or Wisconsin against Marquette in a game for all the bratwurst.
9. Rutgers should get past its scandal before joining the league next year. That way, the Scarlet Knights won’t arrive carrying more baggage than a 747.
10. The Pitino magic should work at Minnesota, because the father-son story would be too good to ignore. “I talked to him several times a day about the little things,” new Gophers’ coach Richard said of Rick.
11. Nebraska should do something to merit notice because coach Tim Miles is a quote machine. Describing the pain of seeing his team picked to finish last again, Miles mentioned that, “I wanted to feel better and I came home to talk to my wife and she says, `Why aren’t you out recruiting?’”
Or this about Nebraska women’s coach Connie Yori: “Connie and I are both picked 12th. She’s 12th in the country and I’m 12th in the league.”
12. Those in need of revival should get it. That includes you, Purdue.