Thirteen times in the 21-year history of the NCAA championships Big Ten teams have gone at least as far as the semifinals, a remarkably consistent record of achievement. As most of the coaches will agree, a share of the credit belongs to the high schools in the area, which every year produce a flood of fine players who not only star in the Big Ten but are recruited to strengthen rosters from coast to coast. At MICHIGAN STATE this year Coach Forddy Anderson will have no height, little experience and only the pretense of a bench, which means the Spartans will be extremely dangerous; Forddy will be improvising, and he is the best coach in the league when it comes to transmuting dross to gold. How he defends against the giants whom State must face should be interesting. He does have speed, in the persons of Horace Walker, Dave Fahs, Lance Olson and Dave Scott. Leading candidates to join them as regulars are Art Gowens, Jim Bechinski, Bill Golis, Bud Fanning, Dave Richey, John Young and Tom Wilson. Run, pass and shoot will be State's offense, and the shooting will be the most important feature, since the team cannot hope to rebound with the rest of the conference. INDIANA will field a tall, all-veteran outfit that was the best-shooting team in the school's history last season. This starting crew includes only one senior, Frank Radovich, which means that the Hoosiers will also be a powerhouse next year. With Radovich up front are LeRoy Johnson and a 6-foot-11 boardsweeper named Walt Bellamy who is also a fine shooter. This lanky trio averaged 39 points a game last year. Bellamy pulled down more than 15 rebounds each time, and hit on better than 50% of his field goal tries. Tough as it appears, a 6-foot-7 sophomore, Gordon Mickey, may well replace one of the forwards by the end of the season. He is easily the best of a list of talented newcomers. Regular guards are the slick and speedy Herbie Lee and Gary Long; Bob Wilkinson, a fine play-maker, returns after a year of scholastic ineligibility to fight for his job. Reserves include the veterans Norbert Witte, Allen Schlegelmilch and Glen Butte and sophomores Bill Altman, Jerry Bass, Charles Hall and Ernie Wilhoit. The Hoosiers lost five of their last seven games a year ago, chiefly because of inexperience; this time around they may be one of the best in the nation. Ohio State and Illinois (and the pesky Forddy Anderson) will give Indiana the most trouble in the title race. At OHIO STATE a fine bunch of sophomores moves up to join three veteran starters and make up a tall, fast squad that shoots well and rebounds strongly. One of the most talked-about sophomores in the nation, 6-foot-8 Jerry Lucas, will start at center, with double-figure scorers Dick Furry and Joe Roberts on either side of him. Roberts, an extremely graceful and talented athlete, has been something of a disappointment in the past because he has played up to his ability only in streaks. He is a senior this year and appears far less erratic. Another sophomore starter, Mel Nowell, will enjoy the benefit of veteran guidance when he lines up next to one of the best guards in the conference, Larry Siegfried, who led the team in scoring last year. In addition to a starting five which averages slightly over 6 feet 5, plenty of reserve height is furnished by Richie Hoyt, Howard Nourse and John Cedargren. Another sophomore receiving starting consideration is Forward John Havlicek, whose classmates, Bob Knight (a superb shooter), Gary Gearhart and J. T. Landes, give OSU a vastly improved bench. ILLINOIS has lost its sparkplug Guard Roger Taylor, but picks up plenty of compensating power. The squad has balance, speed, depth and rebounding strength. Harry Combes, who has never had a losing team in his 12 years as coach, has four returning starters who average almost 6 feet 5, and a plentiful supply of reserves and sophomores with similar measurements. The all-veteran front line includes Govoner Vaughn, an accurate jump shooter, and Ed Perry and junior Center John Wessels. One of the league's better guards is Mannie Jackson, who will be joined by Lee Frandsen, Lou Landt or sophomore Gerald Colangelo. High-jumping sophomore Ed Searcy, 6 feet 5, is a strong boardman and may earn a starting spot up front. Reserve forwards are lettermen Al Gosnell and Bruce Bunkenburg, while 6-foot-8 Verne Altemeyer adds depth at center. Sophomores Doug Mills, Bob Starnes and Jerry Curless complete the squad. Popular John Kundla returns as coach at MINNESOTA, where he starred as a player, with all the prestige that is rightfully his after having coached the professional Minneapolis Lakers to six world championships. In the future he will undoubtedly attract to the university many of the better high school players of the state; and Minnesota has lately taken to basketball with the fervor of Indiana and Ohio. Despite their ninth-place finish last year, the Gophers are valid championship contenders now. Kundla has six veterans who alternated as starters last year, including 6-foot-7 Center Ron Johnson, the only junior named to the all-Big Ten team. He was the team's top scorer last year, with a 20-point average, and its best rebounder. Kundla had already earmarked him for the Lakers before he decided to take the coaching job at Minnesota. Veteran Gerald Butler switches from center to forward, where he joins senior starter Tom Benson. The team's best guard, junior Paul Lehman, is hampered by a knee injury but will start alongside Mario Miller. Forward Dick Erickson is the sixth returning starter, and Tom Skadeland has also lettered. Reserves Bob Griggas and Noel Rahn return at guard, where letterman Curt Thalberg regains eligibility at midyear. Kundla's biggest problems are to coax more scoring from the forwards and to develop a floor leader in the backcourt. Sophomores who will play often include Forwards Ray Cronk and Norm Grow, Guards Wes Hiller and Cal Sabatini. IOWA has endured hard times for the past few years, but three veteran starters, plus the return of spirited Guard Ron Zagar to eligibility, give Coach Sharm Scheuerman a measure of hope for a first-division finish. The team's biggest problem is lack of experience and scoring punch up front, where 6-foot-7 Nolden Gentry is almost alone. Frank Mundt and Denny Runge, 6 feet 8 and 6 feet 9 respectively, saw limited action last year, as did Mike Dull. The Hawkeyes are deep in talented guards, with starters Mike Heitman, Bob Washington and Zagar. Pete Schebler, Bob Carpenter and Les Kewney are backcourt reserves. The looked-for increase in point production will have to come from sophomores, the best of whom is 6-foot-5 Forward Don Nelson. Others who will make the squad are Mike Woods, Joe Novak, Gary Lorenz and Dave Maher. The rest of the league must also look to sophomores as the key to any first-division plans, NORTHWESTERN faces a major rebuilding job after losing four regulars, including all-conference Center Joe Ruklick and the team's three top scorers. Forward Willie Jones and Guard Floyd Campbell will lead a team that has exceptional speed to compensate for barely adequate height and a weak bench. Two sophomores, Ralph Wells and Bill Cacciatore, are competing for the other starting guard position, but Ed Radtke is the only new prospect in the shallow front line. Lack of experience in the pivot means the Wildcats probably will shuttle three men, Chuck Brandt, Jerry Greer and Bill North, under the basket. The only other returnee is Forward Brad Snyder, PURDUE, which shares with Wisconsin the distinction of having won the most Big Ten titles (13 apiece), faces a substantial drop in the standings. Stripped of his six top players by graduation, Coach Ray Eddy must prepare four sophomores for eventual starting assignments. They are Center Terry Dischinger and Forwards Darrel McQuitty, Phil Wills and Jerry Berkshire, with an average height of 6 feet 5. The guards are 1959 reserves Bob Orrill and Dick Mitchell, while the only other returning reserves are Forwards Paul Conwell and Bob Motsinger. Last year's Boilermakers had great talent that never jelled; this year's crew has the advantage, at least, of not being expected to take first place. WISCONSIN'S fine old tradition of good basketball took its worst beating last winter when the Badgers tumbled into the Big Ten cellar for the very first time. A new coaching staff, headed by John Erickson, hopes to reverse the downward trend, but doesn't have the happiest of prospects. If the Badgers go anywhere at all, much help must come from sophomores Jack Kotter, an alert 6-foot-7 center, Jack Ulwelling and Tom Hughbanks. Starting Forwards Bob Barneson and Jim Biggs are the only first-string holdovers. Reserves include Fred Clow, Dick Dutrisac, Rick Murray, Bob Rossin, Bob Serbiak, Dick Box, Marty Gharrity, John Krueger and John Zwakman. Erickson hopes to use a running game, a considerable break with the past, but that depends primarily on board control, and his squad may not be up to such performance. The best team MICHIGAN had in 11 years is gone. M. C. Burton, Big Ten rebounding and scoring champ last year, prepares for medical school, and Coach Bill Perigo prepares to rebuild. John Tidwell, who plays anywhere, is the heart of this year's team, along with Guard Terry Miller, its floor leader. These two are the only ones who have shown scoring ability. Center Lovell Farris, only 6 feet 3, characterizes the squad's serious lack of height. Most likely new starters are rugged Scott Maentz and Bob Brown, who will be available now that the football season is finished. Reserves include Rich Donley, Gary Kane, Dale Kingsbury, Rich Robins, Jim Burns, Arlen Parker, Denis Robison, Dick Clark and Bob Brown.
CHALK TALK by Coach Fred Taylor helps prepare Ohio State's tall, talented squad. At far left is Jerry Lucas, on the record the hottest sophomore prospect in the nation.
HAM-HANDED Walt Bellamy comes down with the rebound for Indiana. He does it so often that he is the principal reason the Hoosiers are favorites in the Big Ten race.