As the upcoming college basketball season nears, there's going to be an increase in preseason polls, rankings, predictions and so on. Athlon Sports, whose preseason preview has actually been hitting the newsstands recently (saw it at my local Kroger the other night), has posted their preseason top 25 online. The list includes a handful of Big Ten programs, none of which are that big of a surprise all things considered.
Making Athlon Sports' Preseason Top 25:
- #4 Maryland
- #12 Michigan State
- #16 Purdue
- #17 Indiana
- #19 Wisconsin
- #22 Michigan
The highest team in the list is Maryland coming in at fourth. While the Terps were first in the last ESPN preseason poll, I have a feeling fourth is going to be a more common landing sport for the Big Ten program. The reality is regardless of how good Maryland can be, the media tends to shy away from less proven commodities and the Terps haven't be a title contender as of late compared to schools like Kentucky, Duke and even North Carolina. Either way the ranking might actually be a good thing, as if the Terps end up landing there in the actual polls it will bring quite a bit less pressure than being the top team in the nation.
Next up is a Michigan State team that returns a ton of talent, adds some interesting faces (Eron Harris) and is coming off of a Final Four appearance. Then in a move that will definitely please the fan base, Athlon put Purdue above Indiana in a move that not everyone has been making. Purdue, who beat Indiana decisively twice last season, arguably returns more talent than the Hoosiers and might have gotten a bigger off-season acquisition in power forward Caleb Swanigan. Of course if we want to complain, Athlon does seem a tad high on a Vanderbilt team that has missed the NCAA Tournament the last three seasons under Kevin Stallings, even if they retain a star like Damian Jones.
Closing out the rankings for the Big Ten are Wisconsin and Michigan, coming in at 19th and 22nd respectively. The inclusion of Michigan isn't a surprise because the team should be healthy and returns mostly everyone, while being ranked at 22nd isn't overstating the Wolverines or automatically assuming they're going to be a drastically improved program. The Badgers seem a bit high after considering all of the turnover on the roster, but Bo Ryan has historically been great in Madison forever so it makes sense for a team just missing out on a national title to be included.
Out of all the teams not included, the only two with any potential complaint would be Ohio State or Iowa, both of which also missed out on Athlon Sports "also considered" listing of an additional seven teams. Iowa, which returns plenty of familiar faces and should compete in the middle of the Big Ten, isn't really a snub. The same can be said for an Ohio State team if you go by what they're losing/returning, though an absolutely loaded recruiting class with a five-star freshman (Jaquan Lyle) and a trio of four-star players (Daniel Giddens, Austin Grandstaff, A.J. Harris) means Thad Matta Could get this team up and running and highly competitive by the time March comes around.
Anyway, thoughts on Athlon Sports preseason top 25? Agree or disagree on which teams made the cut? Where they landed? Let us know in the comments section.