A multitude of events signal the start of the college basketball season for fans. Whether it’s fall leaves, the numerous Midnight Madness events taking place across the country, or the annual media days, plenty of sights and sounds indicate the transition from the offseason to the new season.
The announcements of preseason award lists are some of the biggest signals.
Earlier this week, the Big Ten released its annual preseason All-Big Ten list. While these predictions are never perfect, they generally offer an intriguing look at the season ahead and the key players to watch. If anything, it at least “sets the table” for what fans should expect.
Here were the Big Ten selections:
2016-’17 Preseason All-Big Ten Team
- James Blackmon (Indiana)
- Thomas Bryant (Indiana)
- Ethan Happ (Wisconsin)
- Nigel Hayes (Wisconsin)*
- Malcolm Hill (Illinois)
- Peter Jok (Iowa)
- Bronson Koenig (Wisconsin)
- Caleb Swanigan (Purdue)
- Melo Trimble (Maryland)
- Derrick Walton (Michigan)
The vast majority of these selections were not surprising. With seven of these players making the First, Second or Third All-Big Ten Teams last season and two more making the All-Big Ten Freshmen Team, most of these players were predictable as preseason honorees.
However, a few interesting notes emerged from this list. Here are three thoughts on the list and what it means for this season.
1. The Hype Builds For Indiana and Wisconsin
Although 10 players were selected to the All-Big Ten preseason list, just two teams were fortunate enough to have multiple players make the cut: Indiana and Wisconsin. The Hoosiers were able to get Blackmon and Bryant on the list and the Badgers were able to get Happ, Hayes and Koenig on the list.
One can certainly debate whether Indiana and Wisconsin will be able to live up to the hype this season, but with these two teams projected to have half of the conference’s top 10 players, it’s easy to see why many are projecting them to contend for the title.
2. Spartan Disrespect?
Perhaps the most surprising absence on the All-Big Ten list came from Michigan State. While the Spartans are losing plenty of key contributors this offseason, the team is still projected to remain in the top 25 and contend at the top of the Big Ten. Given those circumstances, it was remarkable to see no Spartans make the cut.
If Michigan State does land a player among the Big Ten’s top 10, expect it to be one of Miles Bridges, Eron Harris, and Josh Langford. Bridges should be one of the Big Ten’s best athletes; Harris should remain a great outside shooter; and Langford should be one of the team’s best shot creators. One of these three should be in serious contention for the All-Big Ten Team.
3. Two Bold Projections
There were undeniably some debatable selections on this year’s All-Big Ten list, but two rose above the others. First, the inclusion of James Blackmon was extremely bold. While Blackmon has shown some flashes of brilliance, he has yet to play close to an All-Big Ten level and is now entering his junior year. There will be a lot of pressure on him to meet these expectations.
The other questionable selections were the numerous players that made the list, but failed to receive unanimous status. In particular, how any “expert” could have made an All-Big Ten list without Malcolm Hill, Peter Jok, and Melo Trimble remains astounding. Each has been excellent over the last three seasons and undeniably deserved a spot among the top 10 Big Ten players.
* – Signifies the Big Ten’s Player of the Year selection.