It’s Time to Discuss If Michigan Was Overrated Coming Into the Season

Posted by Jonathan Batuello on November 29th, 2013

One game doesn’t prove anything is drastically wrong with a team, but after Michigan‘s 63-61 loss to Charlotte last weekend, the preseason top 10 team’s struggles have already raised some eyebrows. The Wolverines now sit at 4-2, which could have very easily been 3-3 given its comeback overtime win over Florida State in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, but the loss certainly exposed plenty of issues across the board against an inferior opponent (Pomeroy had the 49ers rated 196th coming into the game). Michigan was outrebounded, it only had eight assists, and shot only 30 percent from the field and 22 percent from three-point range in the loss. The two players who everyone expected to lead this team were dismal, with Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary combining for 10 points. Robinson was particularly rough, failing to connect on any shot in his nine minutes of playing time. Nik Stauskas continued his season-long strong play with 20 points, but Zak Irvin’s 3-of-14 effort offset anything Stauskas was able to do.

Glenn Robinson III has struggled out the gate for Michigan. (US Presswire)

Glenn Robinson III has struggled out the gate for Michigan. (US Presswire)

So the real question is to wonder how much is this cause for concern for a team most analysts had picked to be second or third in the Big Ten? Does the Charlotte loss represent just one really bad night or was Michigan overrated as a top-10 team after losing two NBA draft picks and the reigning Player of the Year in Trey Burke? The easy answer is yes to both questions. Michigan likely had a really bad collective night to cause the loss, but the Wolverines haven’t really shown yet this season that it deserved to be so highly touted. Read the rest of this entry »

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Big Ten M5: 11.21.13 Edition

Posted by Jonathan Batuello on November 21st, 2013

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  1. Thad Matta thought he had a team that could play spectacular defense this year, and holding Marquette to 35 points on Saturday certainly proved it will be this team’s strength. What may be scary, though, is some Ohio State players think it can get better. Shannon Scott told reporters he would rank it “as an A playing that game (against Marquette). If we get to A-plus, we can beat all the best teams out there.” With his veteran squad, led by the well-known defensive stalwart Aaron Craft, Matta has players that know how to rotate and play help defense. Even with an offense that is still shaky (the 52 points against Marquette and 63 against American last night indicate that), if the Buckeyes can get to an “A-plus” level it may not matter.
  2. Mitch McGary is still working his way back and John Beilein plans to continue to ease him back into games. After playing 22 minutes in Michigan’s loss against Iowa State over the weekend, McGary will likely come off the bench in the Wolverines first game at the Puerto Rico Tip-off against Long Beach State today. His play is needed for Michigan to reach similar heights as it did last season, but as Beilein indicated in the article, it could take up to a month before McGary is completely back up to speed with conditioning and feeling comfortable with everyone on the court. The quicker that happens, the better for Michigan.
  3. Everyone is talking about Wisconsin’s scoring output this season (even if Bo Ryan and the Badgers players indicated before the season the team will be playing faster) and it’s 103-point game with Frank Kaminsky setting the single-game scoring record with 43 points. What’s been overlooked in the Badgers getting more baskets, though, is how this team has been giving up more as well. North Dakota shot 54.5 percent as it scored 83 points against Wisconsin. It may not be a huge issue for Wisconsin if it can continue to score at this rate, but North Dakota had players getting dribble penetration and hitting 3-pointers. Part of the issue could be inexperience on the inside and go away with time, but for a team that has been known for slow play and defense under Ryan, it certainly seems like an issue that could manifest itself later.
  4. It hasn’t always been easy for Purdue this season like it was last night in its 83-55 win over Eastern Illinois. That isn’t necessarily the worst thing according to Matt Painter, who likes that his team has had to face some adversity in its 1-point win over Northern Kentucky and 4-point win over Rider. It has also helped him see how strong his entire line-up is in pressure situations. This experimentation with rotations and different player groups is helping Purdue to build some depth for later this year. With the new rules and fouls increasing so far, it certainly helps Purdue to have players like Jay Simpson, Bryson Scott, and Sterling Carter getting meaningful minutes now should they be called upon for large stretches during the Big Ten season.
  5. Everyone knew about Tim Frazier and DJ Newbill coming into this season for Penn State. Well, at least everyone following Big Ten basketball new of the Nittany Lions backcourt duo, but these two haven’t been the only ones scoring so far. As Penn State has gotten off to a 3-1 start, including a solid 79-72 win over A-10 competitor LaSalle, it has gotten contributions from multiple players on its roster. Donovon Jack, Ross Travis, and Brandon Taylor contributed more than half of the team’s points in the LaSalle win and are making sure Frazier and Newbill don’t have to carry this team. For Penn State to be competitive in the B1G it will need this trend to continue. Certainly Frazier will still be the go-to player, but a solid starting cast surrounding them could help pull Penn State from cellar-dweller to middle of the pack.
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Big Ten M5: 11.20.13 Edition

Posted by Brendan Brody on November 20th, 2013

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  1. Tom Crean channeled his inner Gene Hackman when asked about his team’s upcoming trip to Madison Square Garden for the finals of the 2K Sports Classic. Crean said, “It’s still a 90- foot court with 10 feet from the floor to the rim ,” when he was asked about how it would be different for his young team to go on the road for the first time. While Indiana is a bit more athletic and not nearly as much of an underdog as the fictional Hickory High from the movie “Hoosiers,” they will be tested by their games against Washington in the opener, and against Boston College or Connecticut in the second round. Keep an eye on the point guard match-up in the first game, as Yogi Ferrell squares off against freshman Nigel Williams-Goss.
  2. Those that expect Mitch McGary to live up to all of the preseason hype he received might have to curb their enthusiasm for at least a week or two. John Beilein said on Tuesday that he is going to stick to playing McGary around 18-22 minutes a game for the upcoming tournament in Puerto Rico. McGary alternated between being a dominant presence and someone who needs to play himself back into shape in Michigan’s loss on Sunday to Iowa State. Look for more of the same as he builds toward a potentially dominant season once B1G play starts in January.
  3. All is not well in East Lansing despite Michigan State being the newly-minted number one team in the country when the latest polls came out on Monday. Tom Izzo is upset about the lackluster crowds at the Breslin Center for both Friday and Monday night’s games. November games against teams like Columbia and Portland aren’t necessarily going to move the needle too much in terms of getting a packed house, and it’s safe to assume this will be a non-issue once they play someone like North Carolina in two weeks. With Michigan State’s football team likely heading to the B1G Championship game, and with the number one team in basketball, Michigan State essentially doesn’t have much to complain about athletically right now.
  4. Purdue struggled for the second time in three games against Rider on Sunday. A big reason was the fact that A.J Hammons was saddled with foul trouble, which caused him to miss the majority of the first half. This came after Hammons registered seven blocks in his first game back from suspension against Central Connecticut. A big reason he got into foul trouble was because he had to help his guards who were getting beat of the dribble and getting into the paint too easily. Regardless, this can’t be the start to the reason Hammons was hoping for as he looks to live up to the hype of being a potential lottery pick in the future.
  5. Finally, if you had money on Frank Kaminsky being the talk of all of college basketball for something other than maybe getting viciously dunked on by somebody, then you’re are a rich man/woman. Kaminsky set a Wisconsin single-game record last night scoring 43 points in the Badgers’ 103-85 victory over North Dakota. Kaminsky followed up his 16 point-8 rebound game on Saturday against Green Bay with this record-breaking output. Lost in the shuffle a little bit is the fact that Wisconsin also scored the most points as a team since 1995. Bo Ryan probably wasn’t thrilled giving up 83, but he has to be thrilled his squad has started off 4-0 with two great resume wins against St. John’s and Florida.
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Michigan Provides an Early Test for Iowa State

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 17th, 2013

Michigan and Iowa State are both off to white-hot starts this season. While neither have played competitive teams (their four combined opponents average out to a lowly KenPom rating of #320), the Wolverines and Cyclones have looked terrific in the early going, despite each team being without their best frontcourt player. Neither Melvin Ejim nor Mitch McGary have played a single minute this season, and while that would make a dent in most teams’ rotations, Fred Hoiberg and John Beilein’s teams haven’t skipped a beat. Among the squads’ four combined games so far, the slimmest margin of victory has been 27 points. That figures to change today, however, when the Wolverines and Cyclones square off at Hilton Coliseum early Sunday evening (5:00 PM ET). While McGary and Ejim’s statuses are up in the air, we should be in for a terrific game whether or not they suit up.

Michigan's Caris LeVert has come up big for Michigan so far this season.

Michigan’s Caris LeVert has come up big so far this season.

McGary may be a preseason All-American and Ejim a preseason all-conference pick, but both teams’ offenses will still be on display in Ames even if their stars spend Sunday afternoon on the sidelines. When either Iowa State or Michigan come up in conversations, the first thing that comes to mind is the dizzying level of havoc both teams can wreak from outside. Sophomore Nik Stauskas has connected on six of his first nine three-point attempts for the Wolverines, and that isn’t even good enough to make him the best shooter on his team this year. That honor goes to fellow sophomore Caris Levert, who has spread defenses by hitting seven of his first 10 attempts beyond the arc, allowing fans to breathe easy about Michigan’s backcourt following the departures of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway. It may be early, but both Stauskas and Levert are shooting better on threes than on two-point shots, which is absolutely wild to think about (and at the same time, highly unsustainable). Throw in Glenn Robinson III and freshman Derrick Walton, who are both capable of shooting better than they have in the young season, and you have a group that can absolutely destroy teams with its firepower.

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Big Ten M5: 11.15.13 Edition

Posted by Max Jakubowski on November 15th, 2013

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  1. Friday at 4:00 PM ET marks a huge day for Illinois as five-star forward Cliff Alexander will announce his college decision — he is down to Illinois, Kansas, DePaul, and Memphis. The Chicago native has his decision in mind and most believe it will be either Illinois or Kansas. Kansas has long been the favorite for Alexander, with Jayhawks’ assistant Jerrance Howard recruiting him since he was an eighth-grader. But Illinois and John Groce have made a late surge and have some momentum. If Alexander puts on the Illini hat Friday, it will not only represent Groce’s growing recruiting presence in Chicago, but will also signal that Illinois is ready to get back to being a national power.
  2. Along with Alexander, elite Class of 2014 prospects Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and Stanley Johnson will also announce Friday afternoon. Besides Illinois for Alexander, no other Big Ten team is in the running for these three recruits. But that doesn’t mean the Big Ten is done recruiting top prospects this year. Indiana is heavily pursuing point guard JaQuan Lyle, a former Louisville commitment. Minnesota and Rashad Vaughn have mutual interest. Vaughn, a shooting guard from Golden Valley, Minnesota, would be Richard Pitino’s first major recruit during his short tenure as a head coach. Also look out for Ohio State to continue to pursue consensus top five player Myles Turner, a center who has been compared favorably to former NPOY Anthony Davis.  The Buckeyes already have one of the nation’s best 2014 recruiting classes and all that is missing is a talented big man like Turner.
  3. Tom Izzo and his Michigan State Spartans are coming off a huge Tuesday night victory over Kentucky. Despite the monster win, Izzo is not pleased with his team’s effort on the boards. Adreian Payne battled foul trouble in the second half and that limited his effectiveness. Izzo desperately needs either Matt Costello, Gavin Schilling or Alex Gauna to become a consistent rebounder who the Spartans can lean on to average at least seven boards a game beyond Payne’s production. Gary Harris is another player who Izzo wants to see increase his rebounding activity.  He only averaged 2.5 rebounds per game last season.
  4. Iowa has found a stud player via the transfer hub in Jarrod UthoffWith two scholarships open for the class of 2014, head coach Fran McCaffery said he might turn to the transfer trail to fill them again. Transfers have become increasingly important to college programs, especially when they can get waivers to play right away. Don’t be shocked to see Iowa possibly pick up two graduate students for next season who will be granted immediate eligibility.
  5. There are two major games involving Big Ten teams this weekend. First, #10 Ohio State goes to Milwaukee to take on #17 Marquette Saturday. Look out for the important match-up in the post between Amir Williams and Davante Gardner. Gardner was a first team all-Big East preseason selection and will be a handful for Williams, who has never lived up to his McDonald’s All America hype. On Sunday, #7 Michigan travels to Ames to take on Iowa State. Both teams will each be without a key player, though — Iowa State’s Melvin Ejim is out with a bad left knee and Michigan’s Mitch McGary is not expected to play due to a nagging back injury. It’s not a huge deal now, but each team clearly needs its respective injured player to get healthy by the time conference play starts.
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Big Ten M5: 11.14.13 Edition

Posted by Jonathan Batuello on November 14th, 2013

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  1. National Letters of Intent were beginning to be signed yesterday with several Big Ten programs reeling in top talent. One of the best classes in the conference belongs to Northwestern as head coach Chris Collins signed four solid recruits. Collins’ first class is highlighted by forward Victor Law, rated No. 86 by Rivals, who Collins was more than happy to build a class around. The class is rounded out with three other 3-star players, including guard Bryant McIntosh, who turned down offers to play for Memphis, Purdue, Iowa and Clemson, among others. The group provides Collins with a strong first recruiting class and shows promise for the Wildcats’ future. As the head coach attempts to get the program to its first NCAA tournament berth, this recruiting class could prove to be the turning point as he likely picked up two starters from day one.
  2. Michigan certainly can’t wait to get Mitch McGary back from injury, but for now, it helps to have a player like Jon Horford who can step into the starting line-up. The redshirt junior has experience in the system and understands his role, which was on display in Michigan’s latest game where he scored nine points along with grabbing 15 rebounds against South Carolina State. The Wolverines would certainly prefer to have Horford in a backup role to McGary, but his increased playing time now could be crucial later in the season should he ever be called upon for large minutes. Horford isn’t as versatile offensively, but on a team that has plenty of scorers and shooters on the outside, his ability to grab rebounds and get some points down low complement the rest of the team well.
  3. It wasn’t the normal home opener for Wisconsin on Tuesday against No. 11 Florida. With an impressive performance, though, the Badgers showed they will be able to compete with the best this season. This early season slate certainly is one of the most challenging Bo Ryan has ever had for his team. It has given a good chance to see what the Badgers have after the loss of its three big men from last season’s squad and the early answer is plenty. The team has gotten out in transition more as Billy Donovan noted in the article, willing to use their guards compared to just slashing, cutting and battling down low in a half court set. If Wisconsin can get some more points along with their always stingy defense, don’t be surprised if once again we are talking about this squad playing some important games in the Big Ten race come February and March.
  4. Ohio State has started the season 2-0, but a few problems have already come up for the Buckeyes. Most notably in their 79-69 win over Ohio was rebounding, which was 34-33 in favor of Ohio State. Thad Matta has really pressed defense with this group realizing its offense could need some work, so it has to be troubling that the rotations on the defensive end are causing issues with rebounding. With players rotating away from the basket the Buckeyes were left vulnerable on the glass as no player had more than four defensive rebounds. This is a problem that needs to be fixed quickly with the game against No. 17 Marquette Saturday, which had 21 offensive rebounds alone in its last win.
  5. Purdue‘s Ronnie Johnson had a wake-up call earlier this year when freshman Bryson Scott started over him in the Boilermakers’ first exhibition game. Since then, Johnson has used the team competition to push himself. It’s showed early on as he hit the game-winning free throws in Purdue’s first game and scored 11 points with four assists to only one turnover in the win last night against Central Connecticut State. Johnson is a player some expect to have a breakout season for the Boilermakers, so anything to help push him more is certainly a good thing. It also helps Purdue overall to have back-ups who force the starters to play well to keep their spot, but don’t expect to see Johnson losing it any time soon either.
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Big Ten M5: Opening Day Edition

Posted by Max Jakubowski on November 8th, 2013

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  1. The dawn of a new season is finally upon us. Friday marks the first game for nine Big Ten teams, plus three other teams will begin their seasons on Saturday. Here is a schedule for your viewing pleasure. The biggest game Friday in the Big Ten will be Wisconsin’s contest with St. John’s. A win would be a résumé builder for either of these teams, as both are expected to make the NCAA Tournament. A player to watch in this game for the Badgers is John Gasser. He missed all of last season with an ACL injury.
  2. Speaking of injuries, Michigan’s Mitch McGary has been officially ruled out for Friday’s game and his future status is still unknown. McGary has been dealing with a lower back injury since September, and there are rumblings that the preseason First Team All-American could be sidelined until conference play. If that turns out to be true, the Wolverines will be extremely shorthanded in the frontcourt for the next two months. Non-conference games against Iowa State, Arizona, Duke, Stanford and the Puerto Rico Tipoff could provide Michigan with some major problems.
  3. It’s never too early for bracketology. Both CBS and ESPN released their preseason brackets this week, and ESPN included Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Iowa from the league while CBS had the same six plus Purdue. The Big Ten is expected to get anywhere between six and eight bids this year. Also noteworthy was that Michigan State was a projected #1 seed in both brackets. A number one seed for Tom Izzo and the Spartans would mean they would most likely go through the Midwest Regional in Indianapolis.
  4. Illinois was in neither of the bracketology projections and may not get back there again this season, but they are surely headed in the right direction. Head coach John Groce has a great group of transfers who will be eligible next year and also brings in another nationally-ranked recruiting class. That recruiting class may climb even higher if Groce can land Chicago product Cliff Alexander, a five-star power forward who is expected to choose among a small group that includes the Illini. Illinois may regress this season, but the long-term future does look extra bright in Champaign.
  5. Five-star prospect Reid Travis will announce his college destination today with Duke, Stanford, and Minnesota as his finalists. Duke had long been considered the front-runner, but the Golden Gophers have had a huge momentum swing lately.  Travis, an extremely athletic power forward, would be a huge pickup for coach Richard Pitino and his staff. Scouts have likened his game to C-list celebrity Kris Humphries, who by the way, played his collegiate ball at Minnesota after de-committing from Duke. Coincidence? I think not.
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Morning Five: Opening Day Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 8th, 2013

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  1. We can appreciate the arguments made by people advocating for athletes to receive compensation beyond their scholarship even if we question the economics of it, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t think that Dominic Artis and Ben Carter acted irresponsibly when they sold their team-issued shoes. For their transgression, Artis and Carter have been suspended for the first nine games of this season. Artis and Carter had to have known the rules and chose to break them. We would have a hard time filing this one under civil disobedience or whatever ridiculous idealistic phrase some writers may choose to defend then. Unfortunately for Oregon, the length of that suspension means that they will also miss key games against Ole Miss and Illinois in addition to the season opener against Georgetown. Now, if you want to debate why selling your shoes is worth a suspension that is 80% longer than lying to the NCAA about paying off a booster who had reportedly committed multiple NCAA violations…
  2. We have seen plenty of ridiculous headlines over the years in college basketball, but the one stating that Illinois State junior guard Daishon Knight pleaded guilty to punching a woman in the face and resisting arrest and was reinstated to the team soon after that ranks pretty high. Now the actual story is a little more complex: Knight reportedly punched to woman in the face on August 25 and was able to get the charges decreased from a felony to a misdemeanor with the stipulation that he complete 24 months of conditional discharge and 100 hours community service. Illinois State coach Dan Muller says that Knight has done what he needed to be reinstated, but we have a hard time believing that unless that means being a player that Muller needs to win. On the bright side for Illinois State they were mediocre last year so there is a decent chance nobody in the mainstream media will pick up on this to rip them apart.
  3. There has been plenty of hype about the return of Dunk City in Lincoln tomorrow night as Florida Gulf Coast takes on Nebraska, but the bigger story might be what is happening in the Cornhusker locker room where the team, which will already be without Deverell Biggs for three games (the result of a DUI) will be without Ray Gallegos, the team’s leading scorer last year, for two games after he was suspended for “behavioral issues.” If Tim Miles can get his team back on track they could still be an interesting team in the Big Ten (certainly better than last that they were picked in the media poll), but right now they seems like a team on the verge of falling apart.
  4. With the season officially starting in a few hours we have a lot of quick injury updates to get to before the season starts. Michigan will open the season without Mitch McGary as he continues to deal with a “lower back condition.” Louisville will be without Final Four MOP Luke Hancock as he will sit out the first three games of the season while he recovers from an Achilles tendon injury. UNLV still does not know the extent of Bryce Dejean-Jones‘ hamstring injury, but he will not play in their opener against Portland State. David Pellom, a George Washington graduate transfer, is expected to be out for five weeks after undergoing arthroscopic debridement surgery on his left knee. Washington will not have the services of Desmond Simmons for 6-8 weeks after he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery. Sam Mills will play for La Salle in their opener against Manhattan on Saturday despite injuring his ankle recently.
  5. As we predicted yesterday, the NCAA quickly reversed its ruling on Nathan Harries and says that he is eligible to play immediately. Harries, a freshman at Colgate, was ruled ineligible this year by the NCAA after admitting that he had played in three church league games while he was on his two-year Mormon mission. As we suspected this appears to be a case of eligibility decisions being rubber-stamped and much like the case of Steven Rhodes, the Marine who was temporarily ruled ineligible for his freshman year of football for games he played while on a military base, the decision was reversed as soon as the public became aware of the decision. The NCAA gets plenty of criticism for a wide variety of dumb decisions, but at least they have been quick in correcting their missteps in these cases.
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2013-14 RTC Top 25: Preseason Edition

Posted by Walker Carey on November 7th, 2013

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And so it begins. The time of year where we hear familiar voices on the television, see the faces on the floor, and our favorite teams finally playing games that count in the standings. It is a beautiful time, indeed. With the games commencing on Friday evening, we officially unveil RTC’s 2013-14 Preseason Top 25. Starting November 18, you can expect our weekly poll to come out every Monday morning. Along with the rankings will be the usual quick and dirty analysis that dives deeper into how the teams shake out from top to bottom. To see how we did last year, check out our 2012-13 preseason poll — we nailed some (Louisville, Michigan, Indiana, Kansas), and swung and missed on others (Kentucky, NC State, Missouri, UCLA). We promise to do better this time around.

rtc 25 preseason 13-14

Quick n’ Dirty Thoughts.

  • A Majority Likes Kentucky – Four out of our seven pollsters are in agreement that Kentucky is the top team in the country, while the other two teams that were picked first were Louisville (one #1 vote) and Michigan State (two #1 votes). It is really difficult to argue with any of the three selections, but Kentucky reigned supreme due to the star-studded recruiting class of Julius Randle, James Young, Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Marcus Lee and Dakari Johnson that John Calipari was able to lure to Lexington. Do not forget that Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein also return for the Wildcats. Defending national champion Louisville is once again loaded with talent, led by preseason All-American Russ Smith and 2013 Final Four Most Outstanding Player Luke Hancock. Michigan State is a squad that was helped immensely when both sophomore Gary Harris and senior Adreian Payne bypassed the NBA Draft to return to East Lansing.

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Introducing the RTC All-Big Ten First Team

Posted by Jonathan Batuello (@jcbatuello) on November 7th, 2013

With the college season now just a single day away, the Big Ten microsite got together and voted for the various Big Ten awards and how we thought the standings would shake out. Earlier this week we released our All-Big Ten Second Team, and today, we reveal who we believe to the be the five best players in the conference. Be sure to also check out the other preseason prediction pieces we’ve released choosing our top sixth men, Freshman of the Year and the conference standings (#12 to #9; #8 to #5) before the games get started for real on Friday night.

Here’s our preseason All-Big Ten First Team:

Gary Harris and Adreien Payne Lead our All-Big Ten First Team Selections

Gary Harris and Adreian Payne Lead our All-Big Ten First Team Selections

Gary Harris, Sophomore, Michigan State 6’4″ 210 lbs (12.9 PPG, 1.4 SPG, 45.6% FG, 41.1% 3FG). Gary Harris and Michigan State have the chance at a special season. He was the only unanimous selection to the first team by the Big Ten microsite writers, and we already covered his potential to be the conference’s Player of the Year this season. He was considered a lottery pick had he left for the NBA after last season, and now he appears to be injury-free for the first time in his collegiate career. If the sophomore can find a way to create more of his own scoring opportunities and get to the foul line more often to round out his game, he will be sitting on top of the conference from both an individual and a team basis.

Mitch McGary, Sophomore, Michigan, 6’10” 255 lbs. (7.5 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 59.8% FG). There are two big questions surrounding Mitch McGary right now. The first is when will McGary return to the court from his back problems? The second is if what we saw during the NCAA Tournament last season is something he will be able to sustain? During that magical run to the national title game, the sophomore big man made quite the impact and showed the promise that had him flirting with leaving for the NBA Draft. The early thinking on whether he can keep that going is yes, as McGary has been named to the Oscar Robertson trophy preseason watch list. If the burly center gets 100 percent healthy and continues to dominate in the paint and score at a high level like he did during last March, he’ll be a huge asset as the two teams from the Great Lakes State battle for the Big Ten banner.

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Preseason All-America Teams Are All Fine and Well Except For Being Right

Posted by Bennet Hayes on November 7th, 2013

seasonpreview-11 There is no more optimistic time on the college basketball calendar than the final days leading up to the season. Players feel confident in their readiness for the five-month grind ahead, coaches are left to dream only of best-case scenarios (and often, better), and fans and media are fully entitled to the prognostications of their choosing. It is an undeniably exciting week for a number of reasons, but one item that always adds to the enthusiasm of the days leading up to the year is the unveiling of the Preseason All-America teams. Recognizing the individuals most likely to influence the season ahead not only makes for great banter as we begin the year, but also energizes the players and programs included on the lists. But for all the attention paid to these preseason All-American lists, how much do they really matter come January, let alone March? If the precedent of the past 10 years means anything, we should be compiling these teams with the firm knowledge that they are very much subject to change.

Marcus Smart's Unanimous Selection To The AP's Preseason All-American Team Should Make Him A Safe Bet To Also Be An All-American Come April, Right? Not So Fast -- 34 Preseason All-Americans From The Last Decade Could Tell Smart It Doesn't Always Play Out That Way

Marcus Smart’s Unanimous Selection To The AP’s Preseason All-American Team Should Make Him A Safe Bet To Also Be An All-American Come March, Right?

Most major media outlets generate a preseason All-American team (including us here at Rush the Court), but the Associated Press selections are typically considered to hold the most prestige. In the last 10 seasons, exactly one in three (17 of 51) AP preseason All-American First Teamers found themselves on the postseason team five months later. If we include only the last seven seasons, that percentage drops to just 25 percent, and twice in that span have the AP postseason squads gone without even one of their preseason members. Furthermore, half of the preseason teams in those two chaotic years (2006-07 and 2009-10) failed to make an appearance on either the second or third teams at the end of the two seasons. So yes, there is a simple lesson here: Inclusion on the preseason All-America team does little to ensure a spot on the more informed March iteration of the squad. Why is the preseason/postseason double such a difficult feat? Could the preseason honor actually make the ultimate recognition harder to receive? Read the rest of this entry »

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Breaking Down Pac-12 Non-Conference Schedules: Arizona and Arizona State

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on November 6th, 2013

In order to prepare you for the first two months of the season, we’ve been breaking down all 12 non-conference slates over the last few weeks. To close out the series, we take a look at the Arizona schools.

Teams are listed in order of which they will be played. Last season’s RPI in parenthesis. Potential opponents (one round in advance) are italicized. All times listed are Pacific.

Arizona

Sean Miller, Arizona

Sean Miller Would Like To Cut Down The Nets Once Again After The Season, But First He And The Wildcats Will Have To Navigate A Balanced Non-Conference Slate. (AP)

Cream of the Crop: @ San Diego State (#30), UNLV (#23), @ Michigan (#21)

All three of these will be must-see television. This isn’t as good of a San Diego State team as Steve Fisher has had the last couple of years, but it will still finish in the top four of the Mountain West and compete for an NCAA bid. The Aztecs and their raucous student section, The Show, will be waiting for the top-10 Wildcats for a 7:05 PM tip-off less than a week after the season begins. The Rebels started last season 13-2 but dropped a heart-breaker, 64-61, against California in their NCAA Tournament opener. The toughest of the marquee group will be a road trip to Michigan, which the AP has ranked seventh nationally in its preseason poll. The game will be a 9:00 AM start on the west coast and will be televised nationally by CBS on December 14. The Wolverines lose two premier guards from last year’s team but will still compete with rivals Michigan State and Ohio State for the Big Ten title behind forwards Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III.

Solid Names: Cal Poly (#164), Long Beach State (#115), New Mexico State (#56), Southern U. (#180)

Long Beach State plays the toughest non-conference schedule in the country, and Arizona joins the likes of Michigan, Creighton and NC State to play the 49ers this season. LBSU loses three key players off last year’s team but still boasts enough talent to give the Wildcats a game. Three days before Sean Miller’s team hosts Long Beach State, Cal Poly will visit the McKale Center on opening night. Senior Chris Eversley is the top forward in the Big West and returns from a team that made its first postseason appearance in Division I history. Still, the Mustangs struggled on the road last season and the trend will continue at Arizona. New Mexico State will make the short road trip on the night of December 11 to face Arizona, and Southern U. rounds out the group by coming to Tucson on December 19 for a game that will be televised by the Pac-12 Networks at 6:00 PM. The Jaguars are picked by most to win the SWAC a year after winning 23 games.

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