Big 8 Conference Outlook
As we make the transition from the field to the hardwood, I have decided to preview and predict the upcoming Big 8 basketball season.
For starters lets look back for a moment at last season and how it may relate to this year on the court.
The Madison Memorial Spartans were the conference champions from a year ago and will look to repeat as conference champs.
This season, the Spartans return a couple of standout players from a year ago headlined by forward Jester Weah who earned Honorable Mention All-Conference last year.
You may be familiar with Weah as one of the states top wide receivers from this past season and also a First Team All-Conference player in the Big 8. Weah will look to lead the Spartans to another conference title and will be relied heavily upon to do so.
Nick Fuller, a guard/ forward for the Sun Prairie Cardinals, earned the conferences Most Valuable Player award from a year ago and was a unanimous First Team All-Conference player.
Fuller will return for his senior season and try to lead the Cardinals to a conference championship. One of which the basketball team would love to add to the schools trophy case along side this past seasons football conference championship trophy.
Other players that shined as underclassmen from a year ago are junior guard Andre Neal from Beloit Memorial, who earned Second Team All-Conference honors as a sophomore, and diaper dandy freshman standout Nick Noskowiak who will look to have a star studded year alongside Fuller for the Cardinals.
Noskowiak returns for his sophomore season and him and Fuller will make what appears to be one of the top backcourts in the entire state if all goes well for the Cardinals.
This season will be very fun to watch and one that will be full of buzzer beaters and headlines aplenty.
Madison Memorial has the inside track at defending the conference crown because of the talent this team puts on the court night in and night out.
Weah will undoubtedly have a strong season, but also look for players like Tyler Lindquist and Julian Walters to have breakout seasons as well.
Other teams that will compete for the conference crown are the aforementioned Sun Prairie Cardinals, behind Fuller and Noskowiak, along with Madison West, Madison East and perhaps a team like Middleton and even Beloit Memorial.
The Madison West Regents will rely heavily on guard Malik Clements to win this team some ball games this season after a stellar 2011-2012 campaign. Currently Clements is rumored to be a lock for All-Conference mentions and could possibly give Fuller a run for his money with the conferences MVP award.
Neal will also need to have a standout season for Beloit Memorial if the Knights hope to contend for the championship.
This 6’5” junior will need to team up with fellow junior and quarterback turned shooting guard, Denzel Barnes, for the Knights to compete in this conference.
I feel as though this conference could potentially be a four to five team race this year in the Big 8. With Madison Memorial and Sun Prairie welcoming back the most talent, it could be perceived as a two horse race but I think this season will hold a couple of surprises.
My conference outlook and how the season will play out is as follows…
Conference Champion: Sun Prairie has too much talent on their team with the duo of Fuller and Noskowiak to be stopped. But look for Madison Memorial and Madison West to really put the pinch on the Cardinals for conference supremacy.
Near the middle: After the top three or four teams fall into place, I think squads like Madison East, Middleton and Beloit Memorial will fit into the four through six or seven slots in the conference. Depending on how this season shakes out, one of these teams could bid for a conference championship but right now as the season sits, I feel these teams will remain in the middle of the pack.
Conference MVP or P.O.Y: Nick Fuller will repeat as conference MVP. Unless a player like Clements from West or the Cardinals very own Noskowiak overtakes him.
Dark Horse Surprise Team: The Beloit Memorial Knights will be the conferences surprise team. I know I just got done saying that they will finish near the middle of the pack, but this team has a lot of talent that head coach Jay Bryant can put on the floor. If the Knights come together and work as one throughout this season, then Beloit Memorial could have the opportunity to surprise a lot of teams in this conference.
By: Tyler Zavadsky Twitter:TylerZonESPN
ESPN 1380 Prep Reporter
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