While the Big Ten does not announce an official preseason poll for men’s basketball, the annual unofficial media poll conducted by The Athletic and The Columbus Dispatch was released on Monday. Rutgers was picked to finish 10th in the league in a poll conducted by 28 media members that cover all 14 teams. It’s the first time RU was a double digit pick in four years.
The Scarlet Knights were picked as high as eighth by six voters including Jerry Carino and as low as 12th by three voters.
In addition, Cliff Omoruyi was picked as a Preseason Second Team selection a few days after making the Preseason All-Big Ten team announced by the conference. Omoruyi received the sixth most votes of any player in Monday’s poll by The Athletic and Columbus Dispatch.
Rutgers did not have any players voted for in the Player of the Year, Transfer of the Year or Newcomer of the Year individual honor categories.
While it would have been encouraging to see Rutgers picked higher by the media, it doesn’t mean anything at the end of the day. If anything, it only adds fuel to the fire for a program and head coach that typically thrive in an underdog role.
The bottom line is that the Big Ten is pretty wide open entering the season outside of the consensus top two teams, Purdue and Michigan State.
Steve Pikiell said at last week’s media day, “I like our depth this year. We haven’t had this in past seasons. Every guy can come in and help us in different ways.” Rutgers is also planning to play at a faster pace this season and have high expectations for true freshman Gavin Griffiths.
Rutgers looks to bounce back from last season’s disappointing finish and now has an opportunity to exceed outside expectations for this year’s team.
Steve Pikiell is smiling right now after being picked 10th in unofficial B1G preseason poll. No coach loves promoting perceived disrespect and the underdog role better than Pikiell. Fair to question this team based on the production gone but I think RU exceeds outside expectations.
Big Ten Media Day takes place on Monday for women’s basketball and for men’s basketball on Tuesday. The annual event is in Minneapolis this year. More coverage for both programs to follow.
Here is the preseason poll predicted Big Ten finish with total votes listed (first place votes in parenthesis).
1. Purdue, 388 (24)
2. Michigan State, 368 (4)
3. Maryland, 304
Preseason First-Team All-Big Ten (unanimous selections in bold):
Zach Edey, Purdue (56)
Jahmir Young, Maryland (55)
Terrence Shannon Jr., Illinois (55)
Tyson Walker, Michigan State (46)
Boo Buie, Northwestern (45)
Preseason Second-Team All-Big Ten:
Clifford Omoruyi, Rutgers (36)
A.J. Hoggard, Michigan State (26)
Ace Baldwin, Penn State (11)
Keisei Tominaga, Nebraska (11)
Coleman Hawkins, Illinois (8)
Also receiving votes: Bruce Thornton, Ohio State (7), Julian Reese, Maryland (6), Steven Crowl, Wisconsin (5), Dawson Garcia, Minnesota (5), Braden Smith, Purdue (5), Chucky Hepburn, Wisconsin (4), Xavier Johnson, Indiana (4), Zed Key, Ohio State (4), Mackenzie Mgbako, Indiana (4), Payton Sandfort, Iowa (4), Jaden Akins, Michigan State (3), Connor Essegian, Wisconsin (3), Olivier Nkamhoua, Michigan (3), Tony Perkins, Iowa (3), Jamison Battle, Ohio State (2), Fletcher Loyer, Purdue (2), AJ Storr, Wisconsin (2), Tyler Wahl, Wisconsin (2), Malik Hall, Michigan State (1), Ben Krikke, Iowa (1), Donta Scott, Maryland (1), Kel’el Ware, Indiana (1).
Player of the year: Zach Edey, Purdue (27 votes)
Also receiving votes: Tyson Walker, Michigan State (1)
Transfer of the year: Ace Baldwin, Penn State (14)
Also receiving votes: Olivier Nkamhoua, Michigan (6); Jamison Battle, Ohio State (4); Kel’el Ware, Indiana, and AJ Storr, Wisconsin (2).
Freshman of the year: Mackenzie Mgbako, Indiana (19)
Also receiving votes: DeShawn Harris-Smith, Maryland (5); Xavier Booker, Michigan State (2); Myles Colvin, Purdue, and Scotty Middleton, Ohio State (1)
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