Big Ten Basketball Media Day
Date & Time: Thursday, October 13th 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Where: Washington, D.C.
TV: BTN will have full coverage 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Rutgers Attendees: Head coach Steve Pikiell, junior guard Mike Williams, sophomore guard Corey Sanders. Coach Pikiell is scheduled to take the podium at 11:30 AM.
OTB Coverage: I will be attending and plan to provide live updates from our twitter account, OTB_SBNation, as well as plenty of content in the afternoon.
What To Watch For
I look at the Big Ten as broken down into three groups heading into this season. We will wait and see how the preseason projected order of finish will be voted on by the media, but I see it something like this.
Wisconsin should be the favorite and based on the media selecting three Badgers onto the preseason all-conference team, I’d be shocked if they weren’t projected to win the league. Michigan State, Purdue, and Indiana should be chosen for the next three spots and probably in that order. Ohio State, Michigan, Maryland, and Iowa should round out the 5-8 spots. Northwestern, Illinois and Penn State should be chosen between 9-11, with Minnesota, Nebraska, and Rutgers probably being picked as the bottom three teams. I think Rutgers can finish ahead of both schools and their only games against the two are at the RAC this season.
All-Big Ten Teams
The preseason All-Big Ten team was announced last night and the league only breaks down first and second teams after the season.
2016-17 PRESEASON BIG TEN PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin
2016-17 PRESEASON ALL-BIG TEN TEAM
Malcolm Hill, G, Illinois
James Blackmon Jr., G, Indiana
Thomas Bryant, C, Indiana
Peter Jok, G, Iowa
Melo Trimble, G, Maryland
Derrick Walton Jr., G, Michigan
Caleb Swanigan, F, Purdue
Ethan Happ, F, Wisconsin
NIGEL HAYES, F, Wisconsin (unanimous selection)
Bronson Koenig, F, Wisconsin
It’s a very strong group of ten players, however I question Michigan’s Derrick Walton Jr. being selected over Corey Sanders of Rutgers. Here is a breakdown of their stats from last season:
Derrick Walton Jr. : 11.7 points, 4.5 assists, 5.4 rebounds, 1.65 steals, 37.9% FG, 39.3% 3-pt, 81.7 FT%, 2.23 A/TO, 33.6 minutes
Corey Sanders : 15.9 points, 4.3 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 1.78 steals, 42.3% FG, 31.5% 3-pt 71.3 FT%, 1.39 A/TO, 33.4 minutes
In terms of scoring, it should be noted Corey did take 13.7 shots per game, which was 4.6 more than Walton Jr. A big knock on Corey last season was his shot selection and poor shooting percentage. However, Corey shot over 4% better from the field than Walton Jr. did. Derrick did shoot much better from three-point range and the free throw line, but he was much worse from two-point range.
Walton Jr. did rebound better than Corey and he finished 7th in the conference for assists, one spot ahead of Sanders. Regarding steals, Corey finished 2nd in the conference and Walton Jr. was 3rd. The biggest advantage Walton Jr. had was assist to turnover ratio, something that Corey struggled with and needs to improve on this season.
While the stats are similar, the fact remains that Corey was the only player in the conference to finish in the top ten in scoring, assists, and steals last season. While Walton Jr. should improve on his numbers last season, so should Sanders. I’m not saying Walton Jr. should have not made the preseason All-Big Ten team, but since he did make it I think Sanders should have as well.
Corey Sanders didn't make the All-B1G preseason team. You can tell me he isn't 1 of the 10 best players in the league but I won't believe it— Aaron Breitman (@aaron_breitman) October 11, 2016
Last season, the Big Ten had a few heralded incoming freshman, like Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan, Maryland’s Diamond Stone, and Indiana’s Thomas Bryant. Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ ended up having the best season of all freshman, who was a 3-star recruit, so you never know what may happen.
The league is senior laden this season with less high profile freshman making their debut’s this year. Here is the full list of ESPN’s Top 100 recruits from the class of 2016, as well as a breakdown of Big Ten players included on their list.
Miles Bridges SF #8 - Michigan State
Josh Langford SG #19 - Michigan State
Cassius Winston PG #31 - Michigan State
Amir Coffey SF #32 - Minnesota
Tyler Cook PF #38 - Iowa
Nick Ward C #39 - Michigan State
Curtis Jones SG #40 - Indiana
Tony Carr PG #42 - Penn State
Xavier Simpson PG #48 - Michigan
Kevin Huerter SG #49 - Maryland
De’Ron Davis PF #51 - Indiana
Anthony Cowan PG #62 - Maryland
Derek Funderburk PF #66 Ohio State
Carsen Edwards PG #88 - Purdue
NCAA Tournament hopefuls
ESPN released it’s own top 25 last week and included five Big Ten teams in their poll. They include Wisconsin at #8, Michigan State at #10, Indiana at #12, Purdue at #15, and Maryland at #22. I would add Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio State to that group of Big Ten teams that have legitimate NCAA Tournament aspirations. It wouldn’t shock me to see Illinois make a jump this season and live on the bubble, with the possibility of making it in. I think Northwestern fails to make the tournament yet again.
Seven Big Ten teams made the NCAA’s last season with Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue and Wisconsin. I think all seven have the best chance of making it this season again. The AP and Coaches Polls for the 2016-2017 season have yet to be released.
Perception of Rutgers
This will come as no surprise, but Rutgers will begin this season with few, if any, expectations from the national media. After being mentioned often as one of the worst power five teams in history last season, no benefit of the doubt will be given. Hopefully, there is some interest in new head coach Steve Pikiell and I’m curious to see if any media will ask him any questions when he is at the podium besides those that cover Rutgers. Expect the Scarlet Knights to be selected to finish in last place again by the media, although Nebraska may get a few votes as well.
What To Watch For With Rutgers
I’m excited to see coach Pikiell take the Big Ten stage for the first time since taking over the program. He has been impressive in interviews so far and I expect he may surprise some media types in a positive way who are not familiar with him. I’ll be looking forward to seeing how Mike Williams and Corey Sanders discuss the season ahead and how they feel about the massive changes the program has experienced in such a short time under Pikiell.
For live updates for the entire conference, below is information from the Big Ten:
Beginning at 9 a.m. ET/8 a.m. CT, BTN and BTN2Go will provide live coverage of the men’s coaches’ press conferences, while the women’s coaches’ press conferences will air live on BTN2Go.
Fans can also follow @B1GMBBall and @B1GWBBall on Twitter, or the hash tag #B1GMediaDay, for highlights of the event. Updates from the event can also be found on Facebook (Facebook.com/BigTenConference), through Instagram (Instagram.com/bigtenconf) and on the Big Ten’s new Snapchat account, which can be accessed by searching for "bigtenconf" on the Snapchat app.