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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.