RTC Big Ten Preseason Rankings: #9 to #5

Posted by Alex Moscoso on November 13th, 2014

We continue our preseason Big Ten rankings today with spots #9 through #5. The bottom tier of teams, #14 to #10, released earlier this week. These middle tier teams will be fighting to be on the right side of the bubble — and providing us with great drama — all season long.

9. Maryland

  • What they do well: Defense. Mark Turgeon has had a top 40 squad in adjusted defensive efficiency the past couple seasons and it’ll likely be his area of focus once again.
  • What they don’t do well: Retention. Seth Allen, Charles Mitchell, Nick Faust, Roddy Peters and Shaquille Cleare all transferred out of the program in the offseason — not exactly inconsequential players.
Dez Wells is one of the few familiar faces in College Park this year. (Charlie DeBoyace/The Diamondback)

Dez Wells is one of the few familiar faces in College Park this year. (Charlie DeBoyace/The Diamondback)

  • Get to know: Melo Trimble. The top 40 recruit will need to use his offensive skill set to help replace all the lost scoring from last season.
  • Why they’ll finish 9th: The exodus of key players and unfamiliarity in the Big Ten will cause some very sharp growing pains for the Terrapins.
  • Why they’ll finish higher: This team still has talent and is used to playing top-notch competition. If they can get all their new pieces to gel together, they can compete in a relatively down Big Ten.

8. Iowa

  • What they do well: Offense. Last season, the Hawkeyes were fifth nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency and they bring a majority of that roster back this year.
  • What they don’t do well: Mental toughness. Last season, Iowa wilted in close games against Villanova and Iowa State. Things really spiraled out of control at the end of the season when they lost seven of their last eight contests.

  • Get to know: Jarrod Uthoff. You may already know the talented junior forward, but with Roy Devyn Marble now graduated, Uthoff is well-positioned to move from sixth man to starter. If he can fill in Marble’s shoes, he may be a household name around the Big Ten by January.
  • Why they’ll finish 8th: That was quite the fall from grace Iowa took at the end of last season. It’s possible that the Hawkeyes won’t recover from it, especially with Marble gone.
  • Why they’ll finish higher: They return a majority of a roster that was at one time last season a dark horse Final Four contender. If they can get it together, they’re talented enough to compete for a conference title.

7. Minnesota

  • What they do well: Take the ball away. That patented Pitino family press helped generate 122 steals last year, which ranked as 10th-most in the nation.
  • What they don’t do well: Protect the ball. As many turnovers as the Golden Gophers forced last season, they committed nearly 13 miscues per game in conference play.
Andre Hollins has the potential to make himself a national star and take Minnesota with him. (AP)

Andre Hollins has the potential to make himself a national star and take Minnesota with him. (AP)

  • Get to know: Carlos Morris. The JuCo recruit, originally a top 100 recruit before becoming academically ineligible, will try to fill in Austin Hollins’ spot in the starting lineup.
  • Why they’ll finish 7th: The Gophers lost Austin Hollins, their senior leader and premier perimeter defender, to graduation.
  • Why they’ll finish higher: Because Andre Hollins has the potential to break out as a national star and carry this team back to the NCAA Tournament.

6. Illinois

  • What they do well: Defense. Given the Illini’s abysmal shooting performance last season, their ability to stop their opponents from scoring was their only saving grace.
  • What they don’t do well: Low post scoring. Their senior center, Nnanna Egwu, is an effective rim-protector, but gets most of his 6.9 PPG from the mid-range.
  • Get to know: Leron Black. The 6’7”, 220 lb. freshman may not get as much playing time as other newcomers like Ahmad Starks or Aaron Cosby, but his big body and high energy will turn some heads during the season and shine a brighter light on the Illini’s future.
  • Why they’ll finish 6th: Their shooting woes will be a thing of the past with the inclusion of Starks and Cosby, two competent long-range shooters, in their rotation.
  • Why they’ll finish lower: They still do not have a true point guard. With the introduction of so many new players, the lack of a distributor may prevent this team from developing into a cohesive unit.

5. Michigan

  • What they do well: Shoot threes. As long as John Beilein lives in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines will always be effective from long distance. This year Caris Levert and Zak Irvin will be launching bombs from deep.
  • What they don’t do well: Experience in the frontcourt. After losing Jon Horford, Mitch McGary and Jordan Morgan, Michigan will rely on two freshmen and one inexperienced junior for its inside game.
Caris Levert and his fellow guards will need to carry the Wolverines this season. (AP)

Caris Levert and his fellow guards will need to carry the Wolverines this season. (AP)

  • Get to know: Kameron Chatman. He’s a top 20 recruit who will be trying to fill the vacuum down low.
  • Why they’ll finish 5th: They have a promising backcourt trio of Levert, Irvin, and Derrick Walton Jr., each of whom can thrive in Beilein’s guard-oriented system.
  • Why they’ll finish lower: They simply lost too much talent over the last two years, and the relative inexperience of the frontcourt will prove to be too much of a vulnerability.
Alex Moscoso (170 Posts)

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