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Rutgers Basketball: 2019 Big Ten Media Day Preview

Find out where the Scarlet Knights were picked to finish in the conference, how to watch & much more.

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COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 10 Big Ten Conference Women’s Tournament - Maryland v Iowa

Update: You can read our recap and watch Pikiell at the podium here.

Wednesday is the annual Big Ten men’s basketball Media Day taking place in Rosemont, Illinois right outside of Chicago. Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell will be in attendance, along with players Geo Baker, Shaq Carter, and Ron Harper Jr. To get ready for the conference’s tip off to the 2019-2020 season, here is a full preview.

How To Watch

Live coverage will be shown on the Big Ten Network from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. After the coaches press conferences, BTN will hold individual interviews with the players and coaches from every team. You can also stream the coverage live on the Fox Sports App here.

Press Conference Schedule Shown Live on BTN

9:00 a.m. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany

9:20 a.m. Wisconsin Head Coach Greg Gard

9:30 a.m. Minnesota Head Coach Richard Pitino

9:40 a.m. Nebraska Head Coach Fred Hoiberg

9:50 a.m. Rutgers Head Coach Steve Pikiell

10:00 a.m. Penn State Head Coach Patrick Chambers

10:10 a.m. Maryland Head Coach Mark Turgeon

10:20 a.m. Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo

10:30 a.m. Iowa Head Coach Fran McCaffery

10:40 a.m. Ohio State Head Coach Chris Holtmann

10:50 a.m. Michigan Head Coach Juwan Howard

11:00 a.m. Purdue Head Coach Matt Painter

11:10 a.m. Illinois Head Coach Brad Underwood

11:20 a.m. Northwestern Head Coach Chris Collins

11:30 a.m. Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller

For a full list of players attending, click here.

The Athletic Preseason Media Poll

  1. Michigan State
  2. Maryland
  3. Ohio State
  4. Purdue
  5. Michigan
  6. Wisconsin
  7. Illinois
  8. Iowa
  9. Penn State
  10. Indiana
  11. Minnesota
  12. Rutgers
  13. Nebraska
  14. Northwestern

You can view more here.

Five Things To Watch For

New Coaches

The Big Ten welcomes two new coaches this season with Fred Hoiberg at Nebraska and Juwan Howard at Michigan. Hoiberg returns to the college game from the Chicago Bulls and is hoping his stint at Nebraska was as successful as his time at Iowa State. The Cornhuskers will feature a complete makeover of its roster and will enter the season with low expectations. Howard is a former member of the famed Fab Five and had a long and successful NBA career. After working as an assistant coach for the Miami Heat since he retired in 2013, he is making his head coaching debut for his alma mater. Michigan is still projected to be a top half team in the Big Ten, but how Howard adapts to the college game will be a major factor in their season.

Changes within NCAA

The winds of change will likely be a big discussion point during Media Day. California just passed a law to allow for college athletes to profit from endorsements, there were several changes to the recruiting calendar this summer after the NCAA added regulations, and the three-point line has been pushed back to the FIBA international distance of 22 feet, 1.75 inches. I had written about the recruiting changes here, as well as the three-point line change and why it could benefit this Rutgers team here.

Michigan State Is A Heavy Favorite

Shocker. Every season the dean of the league, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo, brings a stacked roster to the court. Point guard Cassius Winston could end up being the best player in college basketball this season and is backed by Xavier Tillman and Aaron Henry, as well as highly touted freshman Rocket Watts (tremendous name). While Maryland has a ton of potential this season and should challenge the Spartans for the league title, MSU enters as the heavy favorite once again.

Preseason First Team All-Big Ten

Winston was voted the Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year in the media poll taken by The Athletic this week. Here is the First Team that was selected by 28 media members that cover the conference:

Cassius Winston, Michigan State

Lamar Stevens, Penn State

Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois

Anthony Cowan, Maryland

Kaleb Wesson, Ohio State

The only other player award voted on was Freshman of the Year, which went to point guard D.J. Carton of Ohio State.

Wide open after top end of the league

The Big Ten saw a lot of key players depart after last season, mostly due to graduation with many seniors playing important roles for many teams. While the top half of the conference is likely to be a battle between the usual suspects, the middle to back half of the league appears more wide open than in years past. This is obviously a positive for Rutgers, who have an opportunity to make a significant jump up the standings if they can prove how much this team has developed since last season. After finishing a best ever 12th place in Big Ten play last season (three-way tie for 10th but they lost the tiebreakers), more should certainly be expected this winter. Every team and coach will be confident at Media Day, but read on for my Big Ten predictions and why I think Rutgers has a legitimate chance to surprise.

Rutgers Slant

The Scarlet Knights are slowly but surely garnering more respect. This is the first time they weren’t picked to finish last in the Big Ten since joining six years ago. Hopefully, the midwestern media will show more interest in this team on Wednesday and could even be considered a sleeper to be most improved in the league.

Conference Predictions

Below is how I see the conference stacking up this season:

1. Michigan State

2. Maryland

3. Ohio State

4. Illinois

5. Purdue

6. Michigan

7. Wisconsin

8. Indiana

9. Rutgers

10. Penn State

11. Iowa

12. Minnesota

13. Nebraska

14. Northwestern

Quick Thoughts:

I really think this is the season Rutgers rises to the middle of the pack in the Big Ten. I went into detail here about key questions on this team and what reasonable expectations were.

Northwestern is universally thought of as the worst team in the league and received the fewest votes by far in The Athletic’s preseason poll.

Nebraska is a brand new team but not one with much established talent.

Minnesota lost Jordan Murphy, Amir Coffee and Dupree McBrayer, its three best players. Iowa might be without Jordan Bohannon the entire season after having major hip surgery.

Penn State does return Lamar Stevens, who might lead the conference in scoring this season, as well as Mike Watkins in the frontcourt, as well as Myles Dread in the backcourt, but they have less depth this season.

Even Indiana lost its two best players in Juwan Morgan and Romeo Langford.

My point is the bottom half of the conference is wide open and with Rutgers returning the majority of their roster, plus the additions of Jacob Young and Paul Mulcahy, the time is now for Steve Pikiell’s team to be the surprise of the Big Ten this season. We’ll have plenty of coverage on Wednesday as Media Day takes place.