Friday, October 12, 2012

CBSSports Preseason Rankings: Michigan And Big Ten Breakdown

Earlier this week, CBS Sports released several lists look at the upcoming college basketball season.  Not only did they break down some of the elite teams, but they took a look at the best players across the nation and named their preseason All-American picks and their Top 100 players in the country.  Now, I don't make it a habit of responding to every preseason hype list or ranking, but I thought the way CBS laid out the rankings was quite interesting and I wanted to respond.

Their preview post had three parts; Preseason All-Americans, Top 100 Players, and Final Four Predictions. I'm only going to respond to the first two because responding to every expert's Final Four picks is simply ludicrous   Most of them will be off and it would simply take too much time to analyze each pick.  However, I thought the selections in the All-American and Top 100 players lists were pretty interesting and something I wanted to analyze.  So here are where Michigan and the Big Ten teams stacked up on both lists:

Preseason All-Americans

  • Cody Zeller - 1st Team
  • Trey Burke - 2nd Team
  • Deshaun Thomas - 3rd Team
  • Trevor Mbakwe - 3rd Team
  • Aaron Craft - 3rd Team
  • Yogi Ferrell - 2nd Team Freshman
Before I get into dissecting the details of the list, I think we should take a look at the way teams from the Big Ten fared.  Despite all the hype for Michigan and Indiana, neither team was able to get more than one player in these rankings as an All-American.  Yes, Indiana got Ferrell on the list, but that was as a freshman.  OSU was able to land two players on the list, but never cracked one of the top two lists.  Minnesota also got Mbakwe on the list and are hoping for a full recovery, which might just make them relevant again.

As a Michigan fan, I do feel slighted that Burke couldn't make 1st Team, but there are some great players on the list including Phil Pressey from Missouri that really took off last season.  I still have hope that Burke will end up on the only All-American list that matters at the end of the season, but Pressey is a great pick for the list.  Obviously, Zeller was going to be 1st team and there is virtually no debate there.  I do think Thomas is too high however.  I just don't think he did enough to carry his team to merit his ranking.  Also, if Craft has improved his offense as many have said, he could end up higher.  He is the best defensive player in the Big Ten and probably the country.  

The last two picks are the most interesting.  Yes, Trevor Mbakwe is a great player and is set-up to be a big factor the entire season, but let's not forget that he is coming off a major injury.  Recovery is no guarantee and it's not as if he was even the best guy out there before his injury.  He is a capable player and I think he will make a big impact, but I think he is getting overhyped right now.  The last person on the list, Yogi Ferrell, might end up being a little bit too low.  I'm not completely sold on Ferrell just yet, but he is entering one of the best situations a freshman point guard can enter at Indiana.  He probably has the best surrounding cast in the entire country to work with this season.  Expect his numbers to be big even if his impact really isn't that significant.

  • #1 - Cody Zeller
  • #9 - Trey Burke 
  • #10 - Deshaun Thomas 
  • #12 - Aaron Craft
  • #15 - Trevor Mbakwe 
  • #35 - Tim Hardaway, Jr.
  • #38 - Christian Watford
  • #41 - Branden Dawson
  • #54 - Tim Frazier
  • #74 - Gary Harris
  • #77 - Brandon Paul
  • #84 - Victor Oladipo
  • #89 - Keith Appling
  • #93 - Rodney Williams
The first thing to note again is how teams from the Big Ten fared.  MSU and Indiana had the most players from the Big Ten with 3, Michigan, Ohio State, and Minnesota each had 2, and Penn State and Illinois each had a player on the list.  However, as one should be able to tell pretty easily, MSU's players appeared significantly lower on average than Michigan and Indiana's players.  MSU may have had as many or more than Michigan and Indiana, but this list definitely doesn't say they have the best star players in the Big Ten.

Just a few quick reactions to this list.  I'll avoid analyzing players that I already looked at in the list above, so I'm mainly going to be focusing on Tim Hardaway and further.  This Dawson ranking surprised me.  Yes, he was a solid player last year, improved a lot, and injury reports have been positive, but he still suffered a major injury and was nowhere near #41 last season.  Typical freshman statement about Gary Harris.  He's unproven and entering a situation in flux without Green next year.  No guarantees there, but if he lives up to his hype, he belongs.

In my opinion, Brandon Paul doesn't even belong on this list.  Illinois was absolutely horrible on offense last year and if he didn't have that one game explosion against OSU, most people probably wouldn't even know he exists.  I just don't see him being this high.  Going further, Oladipo is a pretty solid player and his numbers should be good again this season.  As far as Appling goes, I have been saying this for quite awhile and I'll repeat it again, he is nowhere near as good as his numbers show.  Yes, he is an ok player, but he is not a player than can create consistently for his team and that's why Green had to basically take over the point guard role at times last season   He's a good player, but I don't think he's anywhere near the hype.  Finally, Rodney Williams was a little bit of a surprise, but he did have a pretty good year and is aimed to have an even better one this season.

The Big Ten looks to be extremely deep overall and is is exciting to see Michigan start to get some major respect in these type of preseason rankings.  Will teams like Michigan and Indiana live up to the hype?  We can't be sure yet, but with these type of rankings, it only bodes well for the coming season.

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