Big Ten Preseason Superlatives: POY, COY, FrOY

Posted by Alex Moscoso on November 11th, 2016

The season-opening tip-offs are set for tonight and the RTC Big Ten microsite has arrived at our predictions for the coming year. We’ve huddled our clairvoyant minds together and selected our conference preseason Player of the Year, Newcomer of the Year, and Coach of the Year. Some of these predictions are likely to miss, but the three individual profiled below are definitely worth keeping a close eye on during the regular season.

Thomas Bryant is the RTC Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year (USA Today Images).

Thomas Bryant is the RTC Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year (USA Today Images).

Player of the Year: Thomas Bryant, Indiana. This was by no means a unanimous choice among our group. While we believe our other two Badger candidates — Nigel Hayes and Ethan Happ — will each also have a terrific season, we settled on Bryant for a couple of reasons. First, he is one of the nation’s most talented big men in an offense full of second options — expect him to significantly improve on his 11.9 PPG and 5.8 RPG freshman tallies with an added a year of experience. Second, he is the anchor of a reigning Big Ten champion that is expected to contend for a second consecutive title and a deep NCAA Tournament run. Given the talent and opportunity here, we believe that Bryant is ready for a monster year.

Newcomer of the Year: Miles Bridges, Michigan State. There was greater consensus with this selection. Bridges is the most highly ranked (#10 in incoming freshman in the Big Ten this season and a possible one-and-done player. The Flint native alredy has an NBA-ready body, above-the-rim athleticism and the ability to play multiple positions. He’ll be a starter for Tom Izzo from day one and should excite and entertain Big Ten fans for the next five months.

Coach of the Year: Greg Gard, Wisconsin. Gard was a runner-up for this postseason award last season, recognized for his leadership in turning around Wisconsin after his mentor, Bo Ryan, abruptly decided to retire. He won’t be climbing uphill this season, though, as his Badgers’ squad is one of the favorites to win the Big Ten. Even if Wisconsin finishes a little short of a banner, we think Gard will ultimately get considerable credit for keeping the Madison machine moving forward with Wisconsin basketball remaining a national presence.

Alex Moscoso (170 Posts)

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