ESPN’s Jeff Goodman released his Fab 50 for 2014-15, a ranking of his top 50 men’s hoops teams, on Tuesday. Ten Big Ten teams make the list, including newcomer Maryland (No. 30), paced by reigning national semifinalist Wisconsin (No. 3). The No. 1 team? That’s Kentucky, of course. See Goodman’s analysis of all 10 Big Ten teams in this post.
No. 3 Wisconsin
This is a team that was one shot away from playing for the national title game and also a group that will return seven of its top eight players. Dekker still has plenty of room to grow, as does Kaminsky. The question is whether Bo Ryan decides to go with a big starting lineup that includes Hayes or elects to stay small and go with Koenig. Whatever the case, the Badgers are legit national title contenders.
No. 13 Ohio State
Thad Matta will have difficulty replacing Craft and both his intangibles and leadership, but the Buckeyes should be better offensively with the addition of Russell and Lee. Russell is a big-time scoring wing, and Lee averaged 13.6 points and 8.6 boards last season at Temple.
No. 22 Michigan State
The Spartans will take a significant step back with losing their three best players. Tom Izzo is a magician, but this roster is underwhelming — at least by Michigan State standards. Dawson will need to be consistent double-double guy, and guys like Valentine, Trice and Costello will need to all take steps forward.
No. 27 Michigan
Stauskas, GR3 and McGary are all gone — and so, too, are both Morgan and Horford. LeVert, Walton and Irvin should give coach John Beilein a nice perimeter trio — and Chatman will help in that regard. The question comes up front where the Wolverines have no proven guys returning, although look for Donnal to surprise people.
No. 28 Nebraska
Tim Miles led Nebraska to the NCAA tournament — and the lone key departure is Gallegos, who averaged 7.3 points. Petteway is one of the top returnees in the league.
No. 30 Maryland
The Terps return their top four scorers from a team that didn’t quite live up to the expectations, but still managed to finish with 17 wins and go 9-9 in the ACC. Mark Turgeon will not only bring all those guys back, but will also bring in a terrific recruiting class that has three players ranked in the Top 75. The key will be Allen’s play at point guard and also whether Maryland gets any quality production in the paint.
No. 34 Iowa
The Hawkeyes lose their best player in Marble, as well as Basabe and McCabe. However, Fran McCaffery had plenty of depth to withstand the departures. White, Gesell and Woodbury are all returning starters — and Uthoff will be a major contributor. Iowa also has guys like Olaseni, Jok and Clemmons, who all filled roles a year ago.
No. 39 Minnesota
Richard Pitino nearly got the Gophers to the NCAA tournament in his first season, and the lone starter he’ll lose is Austin Hollins. The team’s two top players, Andre Hollins and Mathieu, are back and so are starting big man Eliason and part-time starter King.
No. 41 Illinois
The Illini struggled, going just 7-11 in Big Ten play. However, the league will take a hit and John Groce should have more talent to work with. Rice and Abrams, the team’s top scorers, are back and Illinois will add two transfers in Starks and Cosby, as well as a Top 50 recruit in Black along the frontline.
No. 43 Indiana
The Hoosiers will take a hit with Vonleh and Sheehey leaving, but Tom Crean still has plenty of talent on the perimeter. Ferrell is a veteran point guard now and Williams is skilled. The Hoosiers also bring in a couple of quality young wings in Blackmon and Johnson, both of whom who can really score.
First impression: I know this is a super-early preseason list, but I’m pretty sure the Big Ten will have more than three top 25 teams most of the season. Another thing: Nebraska will finish higher than fifth in the Big Ten. This is a young, confident and improving team that returns everybody but Ray Gallegos.
|About Brent Yarina||BTN.com senior editor Brent Yarina covers football and men’s basketball for BTN.com. He writes the popular uniform feature “Clothes Call,” which also focuses on the latest cosmetic changes across Big Ten arenas and stadiums. Read all of his work here. You can subscribe to Yarina’s RSS feed and follow him on Twitter @BTNBrentYarina.|