The national championship team and three outstanding members of the victorious U.S. Olympic basketball squad add special interest to this conference race, OHIO STATE has four starters back from last year's NCAA winner. Coach Fred Taylor has lost only starting Forward Joe Roberts and top reserve Dick Furry. This is essentially the same crew that led the nation in scoring and was third in rebounding. All-America Center Jerry Lucas averaged more than 26 points as a sophomore, making an astonishing 64% of his field goals. Two all-conference players in their own right are Forward John Havlicek, a relentless competitor, and Larry Siegfried, a guard who excels in high lead passes to Lucas. Junior Guard Mel Nowell, with a 13-point average, is the fourth starter, and the other forward slot goes to 6-foot-4 veteran Bobby Knight. Top reserves at guard are Gary Gearhart and Richie Hoyt, while two sophomores, Doug McDonald and Dick Reasbeck, contribute to a bench that is not as deep or as tall as last year's. Only INDIANA, which beat Ohio State once last year, appears to have a strong chance of taking the conference crown away. Walt Bellamy, 6 feet 11, is back to lead the Hoosiers. Remarkably agile for his size, Bellamy has improved so each year that his return compensates in large measure for the loss of three starters. Junior Forward Charlie Hall and senior Guard Gary Long also ease the transition, but the real cause for high hopes here is a bunch of five sophomores, two of whom will start. Forward Tom Bolyard, 6 feet 4, plays a fast, rugged floor game, while thin Jimmie Rayl is the best shooter to arrive on campus in years. A third newcomer, Guard Ray Pavy, also has an imposing collection of shots. Another prominent figure in Coach Branch McCracken's plans is Gordon Mickey, 6-foot-7 junior forward. Three more very perpendicular sophomores are Center Winston Fairfield, 6 feet 10, Forward David Granger, 6 feet 7, and Forward David Porter, 6 feet 4. Indiana is still on probation and thus ineligible for the NCAA tournament, but could take Big Ten honors, PURDUE has its entire starting five back, plus two top reserves. Hub of the team is lean 6-foot-6 junior Center Terry Dischinger, who as a sophomore won the Big Ten scoring title with a 27.4 average, was a consensus All-America. The scrappy Dischinger has tremendous spring and maneuverability. Two more juniors, 6-foot-5 Darrell McQuitty and 6-foot-4 Jerry Berkshire, provide reasonably competitive height in the corners, while the guard posts are manned by the only two seniors, Bob Orrill and Dick Mitchell. The Boilermakers need more height and more scoring from their guards to go with their chief assets—speed, experience and Dischinger. ILLINOIS has been at once hard hit by graduation, losing 34 points a game with the departure of Govoner Vaughn and Mannie Jackson, and pleasantly invaded by three gifted sophomores. Bill Burwell, 6 feet 8, 243 pounds, should be the Big Ten's top soph. Dave Downey, a fast and clever forward, and 6-foot-2 Guard Bill Small also start their varsity careers with rave billings. Coach Harry Combes's only returning starter is 6-foot-7 Center John Wessels, who will now alternate at forward and center, as will 6-foot-5 letterman Ed Searcy, a junior. Two junior guards, Jerry Colangelo and Doug Mills, return from last year's reserves. Illinois is tall, fast and composed of good shooters. Their weakness, if any, must be lumped under the category "inexperience." Of the three other teams contending seriously for a first-division finish, MINNESOTA shows the best balance. Coach Johnny Kundla has many fine young players, three of whom are likely starters as sophomores. Although the new men give the team more depth and speed than it has had in years, the Gophers will use a pattern offense until they find a big, dependable rebounder to trigger the fast break. Tallest of the three sophomores is high-scoring center Tom McGrann, 6 feet 7, who will start with classmates Eric Magdan, a 6-foot-6 forward, and Guard Bob Kammerer. Senior co-captains Dick Erickson, a 6-foot-5 forward, and Guard Paul Lehman, who recently had a cartilage removed to cure an old knee injury, will steady the sophomores. Front-court men Jerry Butler and Tom Skadeland are back, and so are reserve Forward Norm Grow and Guard Bob Griggas. The anticipated return of 6-foot-6 Ray Cronk will help. Currently out because of scholastic troubles, Cronk may be eligible at the start of the winter quarter, NORTHWESTERN has lost three top scorers for the second year in a row, but the return of both starting guards and a multitude of big, strong sophomores add up to a team capable of doing real damage late in the season. The two speedy backcourt men, juniors Ralph Wells and Bill Cacciatore, drive a towering forward wall led by 6-foot-9 sophomore Center Bill Woislaw. Sophomores John Miller and Ken Lutgens, both 6 feet 5, and Dave Bone, 6 feet 6, are most likely to succeed up front. Sophomore Guard Bill Gibbs will make the old hands work for their jobs in the backcourt, too. Reserves include Brad Snyder, Ed Radtke and Warren Kauber. The squad is tall, fast and probably a year away, IOWA will be fast and unpredictable again. Sharm Scheurman, the crafty young towhead who starts his third year as coach, has some speedy little guards and clever, short forwards. With eight lettermen gone, the heart of the team is 6-foot-5 junior Forward Don Nelson, a 16-point scorer who is one of the best in the Midwest. Nelson may operate a double post with Frank Allen, a 6-foot-6 sophomore who will start at center. Reserves Bob Carpenter, Dennis Runge and Mike Woods, and 6-foot-6 sophomores Tom Harris and Dick Shaw are scrambling for the other corner. At guard Ron Zagar runs with either Dave Maher or sophomore Matt Szykowny. Reserves include Gary Lorenz and Joel Novak, and sophomores Joe Cahalan, Joe Reddington and Tom Purcell. MICHIGAN STATE was hard hit by graduation. Six of eight lettermen, including Horace Walker, the best rebounder in Big Ten history, are gone. The Spartans are bursting with sophomores: there are 13 of them on the squad. Coach Forddy Anderson, refreshingly optimistic in a profession crowded with tight-lipped crape-hangers, is pleased with his team. Once again the Spartan attack will rely more on quickness and balance of attack than sheer speed. Anchoring the offense are last year's starting guards, 5-foot-9 Dave Fahs and 6-foot-1 Art Schwarm. Up front, they're all brand-new. Jack Lamers, Dick Hall and Lonnie Sanders, one of the most talented athletes ever to come to MSU, average 6 feet 3 at forward, while 6-foot-7 Ted Williams gets the nod at center over classmate Ron Sabo. Returning reserve Bob Sparvero and sophomore Duane Kilbride complete the nine-man nucleus. WISCONSIN'S second-year Coach Johnny Erickson installed a fast break that lifted the youthful Badgers out of the doldrums last year. He is now looking for an aggressive big man (who isn't?) to join starting Guards Marty Gharrity and Jack Ulwelling and starting Forward Tom Hughbanks. Several promising newcomers flunked out of school, but two big sophomores, Center Tom Gwyn and playmaking Guard Ken Siebel, are good enough to start. A 6-foot-10 soph, Tom Black, is learning fast at center, and rebounding depth will be added if 6-foot-5 Pat Richter, star football end, recovers quickly from a broken collarbone. Lettermen Jim Biggs, Bob Powers and Dave Vandermeulen, and five more tall sophomores provide a good bench. Stronger rebounding and scoring make Wisconsin a decidedly better team this year, but it will have trouble moving up in rank against generally improved rivals. MICHIGAN'S hopes of recovering from the worst season in history depend on a handsome, 6-foot-3 senior forward, John Tidwell, who averaged nearly 22 points last winter and is still improving. Coach Dave Strack replaces Bill Perigo, whose final season was marred by injuries and ineligibilities. Strack is grooming three sophomores for starting roles: Forwards Don Petroff and Tom Cole, and Guard Tom Eveland. Seven reserves are back, but two of the most important ones, Center Bob Brown and Forward Scott Maentz, are football ends and so have missed almost all of the preseason practices. Guard Jon Hall and Forward Charles Higgs were regular reserves who will play even more this season. Steve Schoenherr, Dick Clark and Rich Donley are other returning reserves. The Wolverines have good speed and shooting but are sorely lacking in height, depth and experience.
DRIVING THROUGH or around special defenses is normal chore for slender Purdue All-America Center Terry Dischinger, an extremely fast and deceptive floor man.