At this point, you probably already know who the three ranked Big Ten teams are. Or if you don’t you can guess. Michigan State clocks in at No. 10, Michigan hold down the No. 19 spot, and Purdue sneaks in at No. 24.
Is that fair? Eh, who knows. Beyond the top 5, which are the teams the media see as possible title contenders, it’s all crapshoot after that. What it does tell me is that (once again) the Big Ten is unlikely to have any true title contenders this season, which has unfortunately become par for the course. Michigan State might eventually make it, but the voters know how much talent Tom Izzo’s team lost from last season.
Michigan and Purdue are in the same bucket. Their biggest impact players are gone, and while there is talent coming back, these rankings are based not so much on returning talent as it is respect for what Coach Beilein and Coach Painter have been able to accomplish over the past several seasons.
So, should anyone else from the Big Ten have been ranked?
Indiana, Nebraska, Maryland, and Wisconsin all received votes, so apparently at least a few voters think the Big Ten deserved another team or two. I’m impressed with whoever voted for the Badgers (assuming they don’t live in Madison). That’s a non-obvious pick that could end up making those voters look really smart down the road.
Indiana has proven nothing yet, and just because the entire southern half of the state has anointed Romeo Langford as basketball Jesus, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. (It could be, though. I’ll keep an open mind until I see him against good competition.)
I’d also pump the brakes on the Nebraska hype train. They lost to pretty much every quality opponent they played last year. They have some great guards coming back, but they’re not enough to play last year’s KenPom No. 55 into the top 25. The wildcard here is Isaiah Roby. If Roby is as good as I think he might be, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Tim Miles and Nebrasketball spending some time in the Top 25 this year.
And then there’s the age-old question of Maryland. Do they have a lot of talent? Yes. Can they use it together correctly and cohesively? History says kinda sometimes, until the Terps play a game that really matters. Still, my rule of thumb for preseason polls is to lean towards talent ahead of just about everything else. I guess if I was going to pick a fourth team to include, I’d take the Terps, but they don’t really deserve it.
Really, this is just another facet of the giant mushy mess that this offseason has been. Look at the (ugh) SEC in contrast. They had Tennessee and Auburn tie for the league title last year. Tennessee, who desperately wants to be a basketball—well, not blue blood, but maybe the right term is “big shot”. And little ol’ Auburn who never really cared about roundball, but they went out and hired Bruce Pearl, who is not only controversial in the extreme (ask an older Illinois fan about Bruce sometime and watch the blood boil), but also still beloved in Tennessee.
Oh and Kentucky has a Top 2 recruiting class in the country (again), Florida fans are still holding out hope Mike White is the next Billy Donovan, and LSU is somehow ranked. Meanwhile walking meme Tom Crean just got hired at Georgia.
That’s the stuff that makes for a fun offseason.
In the Big Ten, the top teams all take a step back, and there are a bunch of teams looking to rise up from the mushy middle, but nobody really knows who. There are no new coaches in the league, which means no new systems to prep for. It’s just business as usual.
Really the best news about the AP Poll is that its release means we are less than three weeks away from the start of the season. Offseasons can be interesting. This one wasn’t. Let’s play basketball.
Which of the Others Receiving Votes has the best case for being ranked?
This poll is closed