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Thursday, August 30, 2012
Expect big things from Big Ten

By Dick Vitale

Cody Zeller
Led by Player of the Year candidate Cody Zeller, Indiana is the early favorite in the Big Ten.

I recently ran into some Indiana fans and let me tell you, when you talk about energy and enthusiasm, they were talking that the Big Ten title was cupcake city this year.

I don't think you could convince Hoosiers coach Tom Crean of that. He would flat-out tell you that the conference, from top to bottom, is going to be tough.

For those in Bloomington who thought it would be an easy road to the Big Ten championship this season, forget about it.

Go ask the people in East Lansing, Mich. If you look at Tom Izzo's club, he has a Michigan State team which will have a legitimate say on who the winner is.

If you checked out the club in Buckeye land, you would know that Thad Matta's squad will be very tough. His kids will play ferocious defense and they will take advantage of the scoring ability of Deshaun Thomas. The return of Aaron Craft in the backcourt will give Ohio State great leadership, passing prowess and on-ball defense.

I cannot wait to see the diaper dandies at Michigan. I am talking about Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III. Robinson's daddy was a superstar at Purdue, the Big Dog. They will be a factor in the Maize and Blue. The key for John Beilein's team will be Trey Burke, who said no to the green of the NBA and decided to come back to Ann Arbor.

I think you get the picture, my friends. I have not even talked about Bo Ryan and his Badgers. He will also put together a competitive team on the court. Jared Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz, Ryan Evans and Ben Brust will help make up for the loss of Jordan Taylor.

Illinois has a new coach in John Groce, who had great success at Ohio University. They still have Brandon Paul, and he has terrific talent and great ability.

Tubby Smith is excited to get Trevor Mbakwe back. The Golden Gophers got some great experience by advancing to the final of the NIT last season.

It will not be cupcake city. It could be the first time that Northwestern makes it to the big dance. Bill Carmody's team is capable of making some noise.

This is going to be a special year once again in the Big Ten. From top to bottom, night in and night out, teams will lace 'em up and expect a dogfight. Fran McCaffery has the fans excited in Iowa City with a super recruiting class coming in, led by the big diaper dandy, 7-foot-1 Adam Woodbury.

Certainly Indiana will be the favorite, with Cody Zeller being the early choice for conference Player of the Year. The Hoosiers have a host of talented players returning, including Christian Watford, who won that big ESPY for that dramatic shot to beat Kentucky.

Indiana should be playing Kentucky this season. Oh yes, we all know it and that contest should have been a reality. I just had to get that off of my chest. No way should that be on the sidelines.

Let me get back to my original thought. Commissioner Jim Delany is going to be mighty happy this year because his conference is going to be awesome, baby with a capital A!