ROSEMONT, ILLINOIS— In a quiet media room, where most Big Ten coaches kept their times at the podium short and sweet, John Beilein took time to talk about the preseason rankings— specifically how much he disagrees with them.
In the first Big Ten unofficial media poll, here’s how the team were ranked:
Full voting in this year's official unofficial Big Ten media poll:— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) October 10, 2018
1. Michigan St
8. Ohio St
11. Penn State
Beilein talked about these rankings and mentioned how it doesn’t make sense to see teams returning many of their starters ranked so low.
“I think we’re in for a heck of a year. We all know it’s well-documented, we had four teams in last year. There was a reason for that: it’s that we’re a young league, and we have teams that have almost everybody back that are going to be terrific. They’re not going to be the 10th or 11th team in this league like some of you project.”
Beilein couldn’t recall the exact teams he was thinking about when asked further, but it is fair to think that the teams ranked 6-12 could shake out in any way. Wisconsin returns all five of its starters, which includes the star of the team in Ethan Happ. Indiana has DeRon Davis, the addition of Romeo Langford and other players with a lot of Big Ten playing experience.
Maryland has a very young team this year, but Mark Turgeon has had success with young teams last year and proved Maryland to be a solid Big Ten team even with the loss of Melo Trimble.
Ohio State lost a core of players, but Chris Holtmann showed last season that it doesn’t matter how long the players have been there or how they have played previously. He cna coach his newcomers to another NCAA Tournament.
Minnesota will be lead by Jordan Murphy who is as hungry as he has ever been win in this league and leave Minnesota in the best way he can.
Iowa returns Tyler Cook and Luke Garza, as well as Jordan Bohannon, who will be difference- makers for this Iowa team.
Penn State lost Tony Carr but they have strong veteran leadership this year, which they have not always had in the past.
Northwestern lost Bryant McIntosh, Gavin Skelly, and Scottie Lindsey. Vic Law and Dererk Pardon return. Anthony Gaines is back, AJ Turner’s redshirt year is over, they’ve added a prolific scorer in Ryan Taylor and a strong freshman class that includes Pete Nance.
Beilein mentioned that the players who were young in the Big Ten last year have played a whole season and teams are now going to perform better as a result. He also said that the new influx of freshman, transfers, and graduate transfers will impact the rankings as well.
His team is ranked No. 2 in the unofficial preseason poll, but adds a lot of new talent as well with departures of many of the key veteran players who were on the National Championship Runner Up team. The players that departed include Duncan Robinson, Muhammad-Ali Abdur- Rahkman and Mo Wagner, who departed early for the NBA.
“I think it’s more than just the players, it’s the style we could play [last year]. We had a guy Muhammad- Ali had 135 assists and 35 turnovers. He led the country in that category,” said Beilein. “You have a shooting big that can make 69 threes, it changes everything. I have think it’s that. Duncan Robinson, allowed us to play four-on-four.”
Beilein says a lot of change is coming to his team and the team is going to adjust based on the new talent they have.
“It’s not just that, but the style that we’re going to have to play, we have to adapt again. He we had to adapt last year, midway, to some things,” Beilein noted. “Again, I think that’s what I love: embracing change, trying to change your team both offensively and defensively what can work. I think we have a chance to be a good defensive team again, but I think offensively we’re a work in progress.”
With veteran teams returning players and no coaching changes in the Big Ten this year, Beilein is right, there is no way of knowing how the Big Ten will shake out this year.