College basketball fans can breathe a little easier today. Certain milestones come along during October and November that make the season seem that much closer. Midnight Madness, conference media days and the release of your go-to preseason magazine all show incremental progress toward that first tip-off. On Monday afternoon, the second of the two major college basketball preseason polls was finally released, meaning that we really aren’t very far away now — just 11 days, in fact. A total of six Big Ten teams were on the AP voters’ initial ballots — Maryland, Michigan State, Indiana, Wisconsin, Purdue and Michigan — so here are a few quick takeaways from today’s release.
- Best Conference Debate: Many pundits feel that the ACC and Big Ten will be battling all season for the crown as best conference this season. Score round one for the B1G, as the league put two more teams inside the Top 25 (six) than the ACC (four). The Big 12 also has four teams listed in the AP poll, while the SEC and the Pac-12 each have three. Give credit to the ACC, however, for listing three teams (UNC, Duke, Virginia) among the top six. The ACC also has four more teams listed within the next 10 of the “Others Receiving Votes” category, while the Big Ten only has one (Iowa). We’ll have to wait for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in early December and the rest of the non-conference portion of the schedule to see how this particular competition between leagues plays out.
- Purdue and Michigan Get Extra Love: Maryland (#3), Michigan State (#13), Indiana (#15), and Wisconsin (#17) all start in the exact same spot in both polls, whereas Purdue and Michigan both ended up with a slightly better position in the AP poll. The Boilermakers were tied for 24th in the Coaches’ Poll but will tip off at 23rd in the AP. Michigan just barely finished outside the Coaches’ Top 25 by two points, but they cracked the AP by taking the place of West Virginia in these rankings.
- Plenty of Chances Against the Top 25: There will be at least 16 games where Big Ten teams will have a chance to knock off a Top 25 team, as of the current rankings within this poll. Many of these games were already highlighted in our previous posts. In addition to these match-ups, there are also 10 possible games in tournaments, where if the bracket plays out a certain way, more resume-enhancers will be available for the league.