RTC Big Ten Preview: The Top Tier (#7 – #1)

Posted by Alex Moscoso on November 11th, 2015

We continue our Big Ten microsite predictions and superlatives with the second half of our preseason standings. We presented our preseason standings with teams #14 – #8 on the microsite yesterday; today, we unveil the top half. These are the teams that we as a group believe will finish near or atop the league when all the dust settles and will result in the likely conference representatives in the NCAA Tournament.  Enjoy!

It's Jarrod Uthoff's turn to lead the Hawkeyes to another NCAA Tournament.

It’s Jarrod Uthoff’s turn to lead the Hawkeyes to another NCAA Tournament.

  • 7. Iowa: With Aaron White now graduated, all eyes turn to senior Jarrod Uthoff to take the baton and lead the Hawkeyes to a third consecutive NCAA Tournament— something this program hasn’t accomplished since the early 1990s. With players like Adam Woodbury, Peter Jok and an experienced backcourt to work with, Uthoff will have a supporting cast with enough talent to get it done.
  • 6. Michigan: The Wolverines are a talent-laden team with a number of players similar to Caris LeVert who fit perfectly into John Beilein’s prolific three-point offense. Both he and Derrick Walton were sidelined with injuries for the majority of last season, which gave the rest of the young roster experience to draw from this year. Now fully healthy, Michigan is set up for a comeback campaign pushing toward the top of the Big Ten.

  • 3. (tie) Indiana: The Hoosiers return one of the most high-powered offenses in the country, as Yogi Ferrell, James Blackmon Jr. and Troy Williams combined for 45.0 PPG last season. To get to this position in the league standings, Indiana must make progress on fixing its atrocious defense. If they can’t get there, then the Hoosiers are likely to sink fast and ultimately cost Tom Crean his job. This team will be one of the best ongoing Big Ten storylines throughout the season.
  • 3. (tie) Purdue: The Boilermakers are back in the top echelon of the league because of the retention of most of their NCAA Tournament roster and the arrival of one of the most heralded recruits in school history, Caleb Swanigan. He’ll team up with A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas to comprise an excellent frontcourt; if the Boilermakers’ backcourt can keep up the pace, this group has enough talent and potential to win the league.
  • 3. (tie) Wisconsin: There is one factoid that is so often repeated that it’s become a tired cliché: A Bo Ryan team has never finished outside of the top four in the Big Ten standings, And it’s true. But it’s also true that Ryan has never lost four major contributors from a two-time Final Four team including the National Player of the Year (Frank Kaminsky). That said, Ryan returns a nice inside-outside duo in Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig. Look for Vitto Brown and Zak Showalter to also make significant leaps in their development with expanded roles, and for the Badgers to once again find their way among the Big Ten’s best.
  • 2. Michigan State: Tom Izzo has come a long way from where he sat one year ago, when he seemed generally melancholy about a team not much was expected from and he was openly lamenting the state of recruiting in college basketball. Since then he’s added another Final Four banner to the Breslin Center and has most of that roster returning for another season. He’s also turned around his recruiting fortunes somewhat by getting McDonald’s All-American Devonta Davis to East Lansing. The Spartans are once again poised and ready for another Big Ten and Final Four run.
  • 1. Maryland: Here are three reasons why the Terps are our preseason favorites: 1) They have the most talented roster; 2) They have the league’s best player in Melo Trimble; and 3) They have the league’s most heralded freshman in Diamond Stone. As we wrote earlier, chemistry issues could derail this team’s significant talent advantage, but if they can come together in a cohesive way, they’ll not only win the Big Ten but might also be cutting down some nets in Houston next April.
Alex Moscoso (170 Posts)

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