On expectations

Both Lindy’s and Athlon have Michigan 5th…

Seems like there are a few tiers if you look at both orders of finish:

  • MSU, Minny, Purdue and NW
  • Michigan, Wisconsin, Maryland, Iowa (on the edge here)
  • IU, OSU, PSU, Illinois
  • Nebraska, Rutgers

My tiers go like this:

GREAT: Michigan State
GOOD: Minny, Purdue, NW, Michigan, Wisconsin, Maryland
BUBBLE RISING: Iowa, Penn State
BUBBLE FALLING: Ohio State, Indiana, Illinois
BAD: Nebraska, Rutgers

Tier 1: MSU, Minny, Purdue, NW, Michigan, Maryland, Wisky,
Tier 2: Iowa, Penn State, maybe IU
Tier 3: OSU, Illinois, Rutgers
Tier 4: Nebraska

Would they still put Minnesota above us without Curry?

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I could see us finishing anywhere from 2-5. Might be the homer in me, but I think it will be closer to 2 if we can start out conference play strong. Purdue, Northwestern, and now Minnesota with the Curry injury do not scare me, but we will see.

Challenge is we tend to finish better than we start (seemingly)

This is how I see it as well.

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I was just looking at some early top 25s from pundits around the country and I was really surprised by two things: How highly rated Minnesota was (most top 25s were made before Curry got injured, but I still thought they were overrated before the injury) and no talk of Wisconsin. Here are my expectations for the conference:

  1. MSU - clear #1, far and away most talented team. If they don’t win the conference in the regular season, they should be disappointed
  2. Purdue - lose Swanigan, but no one else of real contribution. Solid incoming class as well.
  3. Wisconsin - I’m picking them top 4 in the conference until they show me that they are capable of doing otherwise.
    4-6 Minnesota, N’W, Michigan - I’m having a hard time differentiating these programs. Several pros and cons for each. Gun to my head, I think I’m going N’W, Michigan, Minnesota.
  4. Iowa - were young last year. Should be solid this season.
  5. Maryland - Just not impressed by Turgeon. Think they’ll be the most underachieving squad in the conference.
  6. Indiana - We’ll see flashes this year. But not enough.
  7. PSU - going to be on the bubble. Talent is improving. Could jump a couple teams ahead of them.
  8. OSU - new coach boost. Will have one or two surprising wins. Lose a few they shouldn’t as well.
  9. Illinois - I like their coach. But they’re in rough shape as of now.
  10. Rutgers - Gradually getting better. I think.
  11. Nebraska - I think this is Miles’ last season.

Two thoughts on this:

  1. Wisconsin was a perennial top 4 BT team under Bo Ryan, and with the remnants of his team under Greg Gard. Now, with Gard mostly on his own, and a significant rebuild underway, the fact that Wisconsin has been good doesn’t sell me on the fact that it will be good until I see it. Lots of established power teams have changed coaches, even to those on staff, and fallen off the map.

  2. On the other hand, if you’re going to place Wisconsin highly because they’ve done well under a different coach, I don’t know how you can downgrade Maryland, which has three straight top 3 conference finishes with the same coach it still has, including last year when it replaced 4 starters. Maryland has vastly more coming back than Wisconsin. They have overachieved preseason expectations by a lot 2 out of the 3 years they’ve been in the league, and made the Sweet Sixteen off a fifth seed the year they underachieved. I’d put Maryland up there in the group behind MSU, certainly ahead of Iowa and Wisconsin, and on an approximate par with the Minnesota, NW and Michigan group (and maybe Purdue as well).

  1. Gard is in, essentially his third year. They’ve gone 12-6 each of his other two years. They do lose Nigel Hayes, Vitto Brown, Koenig and Showalter. Which are obviously significant losses. But Gard took over halfway through the season after they had lost Kaminsky and Dekker. And he’s been with Wisconsin since 2001. I would have questions about Gard if he were to move to another program. But with being with Ryan the entirety of his tenure and just continuing to build off of what’s already been there. Maybe this is the year they drop below fourth, but I’ll take my chances with them just being them.

  2. Maryland may have finished top three each year in the conference, but they’ve also benefited from one of the easier schedules each year. Last year, they played a total of 2 ranked teams all year. And promptly lost them both. And then went on to get beaten easily by N’W and Xavier in the postseason tournaments. I probably do have them too low on second glance, and would definitely move them ahead of Iowa (though I think Iowa has a decent ceiling this year). Maybe I’m valuing them less because they finished the season on a 4-7 run. But they just don’t get the benefit of the doubt from me, especially now that Trimble is gone. Cowan was good last year as a freshman, but with being more focused on, I don’t know how he will do without significantly improving his jumper. Jackson should be fine, and Huerter has his role from the perimeter. But the team doesn’t really play defense. And I don’t rate Turgeon at all. Eventually outtalenting people only gets you so far.

I get that Gard is in his third BT season, but he took over a wildly experienced team which got even more experienced last year. This year, he’s rebuilding on the fly. Bo Ryan could do that; thus, I always rated Ryan teams top 4 even in obvious rebuilding situations based on track record, Gard hasn’t got a track record in rebuild situations. If he finishes top 4 this year, I’ll be convinced.

As to Turgeon, he too has a track record and its a pretty good one. Yes, he has benefited from schedule, Trimble, and winning an insane number of close games (many because of the aforementioned Trimble), but three straight years is three straight years. You can nitpick any coach’s record if you want–the fact is that Turgeon’s record, at Maryland and at his previous stops, is pretty good. If/when he blows up this year, I’ll reconsider, but it seems contradictory to me to say I’ll rate Wisconsin highly because they’ve finished highly before and then say it doesn’t matter whether Maryland has finished highly before, I think little of Turgeon (who has vastly more experience and success as a HC at the D1 level than Gard) and therefore Maryland will struggle.

I don’t view it as a rebuild on the fly since Gard had a hand in evaluating and recruiting every single player on that team. And it’s not just two years. It’s 16 straight years for Wisconsin and no, he wasn’t the HC for most of those but he’s seen rebuilds of all sorts at Wisconsin. I don’t think he’ll get caught with his pants down.

Maryland has had a lot of talent each year they’ve been in the B1G. They have less talent this year than they’ve had the previous 3 IMO. Turgeon doesn’t win a lot of big games and they’ve gotten worse each of the last two seasons. When it comes down to it, I rate Gard, Painter, and some of the other coaches above him.

I don’t think it’s hypocritical to say one thing about Wisconsin and another about Maryland because as I stated above, Gard has been around for an eternity at Wisconsin.