November 11, 2010

The State Of Indiana: Pre-Season

Get it? It's a play on words. Hell to the yeah. 

But seriously, the State of Indiana Hoops in generally is a mish-mash of big name schools and mid major power. Let's take a look at the rundown, best to worst.

#1 Purdue Boilermakers

Arena: Mackey Arena; 14,123
Conference: Big10
In-Season Tournament(s): Chicago Invitational Challenge, 1 game (Chicago, IL)
This should be an obvious number one. Robbie Hummel's injury will not be as devastating as some pundits make it out to be, especially because it happened before the pre-season even began. While I definitely will miss watching him play (this would have been year-eight, four years in high school as my rival and four years as a team I watch when they're on and no one else is), fellow Region Rat E'Twaun Moore and Indy native JaJuan Johnson will carry the Boilers to a very successful 2010-2011 campaign. To make a successful tournament run, Purdue will need someone to step up to lead the team in the same way Chris Cramer did.
IN State: 1st
Season Prediction: Top 15
Conference Prediction: 3rd
Post-Season Prediction: NCAA Tournament, Elite Eight

#2 Butler Bulldawgs

Arena: Hinkle Fieldhouse; 10,000
Conference: Horizon League
In-Season Tournament(s): Diamond Head Classic, 1 game (Honolulu, HI)

Losing Willie Veasley and Gordon Hayward is going to hurt. Butler has a difficult road ahead of them, but Brad Stevens is a tremendous coach and is able to get every ounce of talent out of his guys. Depending how much Matt Howard progressed with his mid-range game and if he learned to avoid fouling so often, the Dawgs should have yet another successful season.
IN State: 2nd
Season Prediction: Top 20
Conference Prediction: 1st
Post-Season Prediction: NCAA Tournament, Sweet Sixteen

#3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Arena: Joyce Athletic Center; 9,149
Conference: BigEast
In-Season Tournament(s): Old Spice Classic (Orlando, FL)

Notre Dame brings some stud wing shooters back in Tim Abromaitis and Ben Hansbrough, but Luke Harangody's absence in the  post is going to be a hard one to replace. One major positive is that they were incredibly disappointing last year so they have little to live up to heading into the new campaign. The BigEast scheduling will definitely help their conference tournament hopes, but they won't have a 'breakout season'.
IN State: 3rd
Season Prediction: Top 40
Conference Prediction: 5th
Post-Season Prediction: NCAA Tournament, First Round

#4 IUPUI Jaguars

Arena: The Jungle; 1,215
Conference: Summit League
In-Season Tournament(s): CBE Classic (Spokane, WA, Oxford, OH); Holiday Hoops Classic (Las Vegas, NV)

IUPUI and Indiana State are both tied for fourth. Over the last two years, they split their series as the home team won their respective game. If they played this year I'd be shocked if it didn't go into overtime. The Jaguars lose a ton of offense and post-presence, graduating three keys to their success last year, but Freshman Donovan Gibbs and Junior Christian Siakam should fill those gaps well. Dayton transfer Stephen Thomas, pre-season All-Summit League first team wingman Alex Young, and second team wingman Leroy Nobles should do most of the production.
IN State: 4th
Season Prediction: Top 90
Conference Prediction: 3rd
Post-Season Prediction: CBI/CIT, Quarterfinals

#5 Indiana State Sycamores

Arena: Hulman Center; 10,200
Conference: Missouri Valley
In-Season Tournament(s): Loyola Classic (Chicago, IL); ESPN Bracket Busters (TBA)
The Sycamores play in a much harder conference than IUPUI, and their record will reflect it. They were able to dismantle the Jaguars during IUPUI's quite successful 2009-2010 run but heir schedule, like IUPUI's, has a lot of "at (Successful Non-Conference Team)". If Indiana State wants to succeed, which will be difficult, they have plenty to work on. [It should be of note that their overall record will be a tough indicator of their true talent. Against even a slightly easier schedule they could go 18-12 or better.]
IN State: 5th
Season Prediction: Top 150
Conference Prediction: 7th
Post-Season Prediction: None

#6 Indiana Hoosiers

Arena: Assembly Hall; 17,472
Conference: Big10
In-Season Tournament(s): Las Vegas Classic (Las Vegas, NV); 
IU fans, quit your bitchin'. The Hoosiers are simply some guys playing in the same jerseys that true champions once played in. Harsh? Definitely. But most IU fans are convinced they are shoe-ins for the National Championship every year, no matter how bad the team REALLY is. Against any of the top 5 teams in Indiana (and maybe a couple below...) on a neutral floor, Indiana would absolutely lose. This year's team should do better than last, but Tom Crean is still about two seasons away from being a contender in any capacity. The exhibition against Ferris State should be a big red (lots of pun intended) flag.
IN State: 6th
Season Prediction: Top 175
Conference Prediction: 10th
Post-Season Prediction: None

#7 Valparaiso Crusaders

Arena: Athletics-Recreation Center (ARC); 5,000
Conference: Horizon League
In-Season Tournament(s): Lou Henson Award Tournament (Detroit, MI); ESPN Bracket Busters (TBA)
Valparaiso (V-A-L! P-A-R! A-I-S-O!) has a long way to go to get back to the Tournament, but with Homer Drew at the helm anything is possible. It will be near impossible to win the Horizon in the near future, but Homer is able to keep Valpo v Butler games extremely good, no matter how good or bad either team is. Don't expect too much from the Crusaders, though with their schedule they could eek out a couple decent wins. Unfortunately their decent wins won't be better than IU's, mainly because of the conference they play in.
IN State: 7th
Season Prediction: Top 175
Conference Prediction: 7th
Post-Season Prediction: None

#8 Evansville Purple Aces

Arena: Roberts Municipal Stadium; 11,600
Conference: Missouri Valley
In-Season Tournament(s): None
The Purple Aces are Indiana's southern most Division-1 program, and absolutely the most up and down team fielded in the state. Last year they lost to Butler by just four, beat Northern Iowa, but went 5-20 between that. The Sophomore-heavy (six of them) team will continue to improve, even if it is slowly. 
IN State: 8th
Season Prediction: Top 225 
Conference Prediction: 9th
Post-Season Prediction: None

#9 IPFW Mastodons

Arena: Gates Sports Center; 11,500
Conference: Summit League 
In-Season Tournament(s): Great Alaska Shootout,(Anchorage, AK)
The 'Dons won 16 games last season, the most in the entirety of the 2000's. They could reach that number again this year, but they'd be hard pressed to do it. They will play some very winnable games (SIUE, North Dakota, Chicago State, Tennessee-Martin), but face teams like Valpo and Purdue on the road, as well a less-than-scary Toledo team that could come in to Gates Sports Center and stomp them. This mid-to-low Summit League team will disappoint yet again.
IN State: 9th
Season Prediction: Top 250
Conference Prediction: 7th
Post-Season Prediction: None

#10 Ball State Cardinals

Arena: Worthen Arena; 11,500
Conference: Mid-American Conference 
In-Season Tournament(s): Great Alaska Shootout (Anchorage, AK)
The MAC is a surprisingly middle-of-the-road conference in basketball, despite having Division-1 football at all of its member schools. That being said, Ball State is one of the worst teams in the conference. I think they will manage a few victories, and they certainly not the worst. Look for another mediocre season from Cardinals.
IN State: 10th
Season Prediction: None; Top 270
Conference Prediction: 9th
Post-Season Prediction: None

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