RTC Big Ten Preseason Rankings: #12 to #9Posted by Brendan Brody on November 6th, 2013
With just a couple days before the regular season tips off, it’s time to get down to how the five of us on the microsite feel that the 12 teams will shake out once the season gets rolling. What follows are the teams that we picked to finish in the bottom third of the league. Before the games tip off for real on Friday, we will show you teams #8-#5, and then close it out with teams #4-#1. Feel free to let the debates, arguments and discussions about how much or little we know what we’re talking about.
- What they do Well: Nebraska does not turn the ball over, as it ranked 30th last season nationally in turnover rate. This is partially due to playing at a slow tempo, but their guards take care of the ball.
- What they don’t do well: They do not get many second chance opportunities, as they ranked 319th last season in offensive rebounding rate.
- Get to know: Shavon Shields. Shields made a decent impact last year, as he was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week twice. He and fellow wing David Rivers will need to step up to offset the losses of Brandon Ubel and Dylan Talley.
- Why they’ll finish 12th: Tim Miles looks like one of the better young coaches in the land, but with this being one of the best and deepest conferences in the country yet again, they simply don’t have enough quality depth to compete just yet. Teams will exploit their lack of quality size and kill them on the boards.
- Why they’ll finish higher: Tai Webster turns out to be much better than advertised, and he and Ray Gallegos will be able to produce on the perimeter, shooting a high percentage and taking care of the ball. Florida castoff Walter Pitchford uses his 6’10″ frame to remedy the Huskers problem with offensive rebounding.
10 (tie). Northwestern
- What they do well: Like Nebraska, the Wildcats are used to playing at a slow tempo to their advantage, ranking 37th nationally in turnover rate. This may or may not be the same strength this year as they look to play faster.
- What they don’t do well: Northwestern ranked 337th in offensive block rate, meaning that they really struggled in finishing at the rim.
- Get to know: Alex Olah. If Northwestern can get anything from this 7-foot Romanian, they’ll be balanced enough with their guards to surpass expectations in Collins’ first season at the helm.
- Why they’ll finish 10th: There will be too much uncertainty as the players adjust to playing at a quicker tempo, transitioning from Bill Carmody and his Princeton offense to a more up-tempo style of play that Collins is implementing.
- Why they’ll finish higher: The return of Drew Crawford and JerShon Cobb will lead to a better perimeter attack more athleticism. Olah becomes a physical presence inside that they will need to create extra possessions.
10 (tie). Minnesota
- What they do well: Minnesota ranked 44th in steal rate last season, and with both Austin and Andre Hollins back combined with Richard Pitino’s pressure defense, this number could very easily go up.
- What they don’t do well: The Gophers were 263rd in turnover rate, effectively cancelling out all of the steals they get.
- Get to know: Deandre Mathieu. This 5’9″ JuCo transfer has been getting a lot of minutes at the point in their two scrimmages, and could easily lead the league in steals and rank in the top five in assists.
- Why they’ll finish 10th: The combination of losing key personnel and trying to play in a new system will end up too much for them to overcome. The guards will be fine, but players like Eliott Eliason and Drake transfer Joey King come with too many question marks inside.
- Why they’ll finish higher: Pitino defies critics and jumpstarts the program with his high energy style. Andre Hollins gets better to the point that he’s a legitimate B1G Player of the Year candidate.
9. Penn State
- What they do well: Deny second chance opportunities. Penn State limits opponent offensive rebounds, ranking 26th nationally in this category last year.
- What they don’t do well: The Nittany Lions ranked 320th in eFG% last year, but this should get better with Tim Frazier‘s return and with the addition of Pitt transfer John Johnson’s long-range shooting prowess.
- Get to know: Donovan Jack. This sophomore only averaged 6.6. minutes per game last season, but showed in the team’s scrimmage that he can be a glue guy with more time. Jack scored 10 points and added seven rebounds and three blocks in a starting role in this game.
- Why they’ll finish ninth: Tim Frazier just isn’t the same player that he was prior to his Achilles injury. The loss of Jermaine Marshall provides to be too much scoring for them to replace.
- Why they’ll finish higher: Much like their Tournament run in 2010-11, Frazier will pull a Talor Battle and become the best point guard in the league. The complementary pieces like Jack, Graham Woodard and Ross Travis all play much better than expected as Chambers improves in his third year at the helm.