2019-20 Season

What They’re Saying: Preseason magazines weigh in on Michigan’s 2019-20 outlook

College basketball season is here and preseason magazines are hitting newsstands (or inboxes) across the country. We rounded up six different preseason prognostications to gauge the temperature of the Big Ten.

Michigan is projected somewhere between 5th and 8th place in the conference by the six sources we compiled. Michigan State is picked as a unanimous favorite in the conference but there are some mixed opinions in the middle of the league. Two of the most polarizing teams in the conference are Illinois and Iowa, both schools were projected as high as 4th and as low as 9th.

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Here’s a look at our aggregate table combining data from Blue RibbonLindy’sAthlonStreet & Smith’sThree Man Weave and Bart Torvik’s T-Rank.

The aggregate rankings show several tiers in the league. Michigan State is on its own as a consensus favorite while Maryland, Purdue and Ohio State are widely regarded as the next level of contenders with average rankings between 2 and 4. Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin make up the next group with average rankings between 6 and 7.

Three conference players made the All-Big Ten First Team in all five outlets that published a first-team list: Cassius Winston, Lamar Stevens and Anthony Cowan. Ayo Dosunmu (2), Xavier Tillman (2), Jalen Smith (2), Zavier Simpson (2) and Kaleb Wesson (2) also received at least one first-team mention.

Ohio State freshman EJ Liddell was named preseason Big Ten Freshman of the Year by two publications while Trayce Jackson-Davis (2) and Franz Wagner also received a vote in that category.

Here’s a rundown of other takeaways from each preseason publication.


  • Blue Ribbon doesn’t have Michigan ranked in the top 25 but Michigan State (1), Maryland (7), Purdue (22) and Ohio State (24) all represent the league.
  • The magazine doesn’t rank Michigan’s backcourt or frontcourt among the top three in the conference. Michigan State has the best backcourt and frontcourt, per Blue Ribbon.
  • Cassius Winston (1st), Anthony Cowan (2nd), Xavier Tillman (3rd), Ayo Dosunmu (4th) and Lamar Stevens (4th) are all tabbed as preseason All-Americans.


  • Lindy’s picks six Big Ten teams to make the NCAA Tournament but that list doesn’t include Michigan: Michigan State, Maryland, Ohio State, Purdue, Illinois and Wisconsin.
  • Lindy’s ranked the top 150 players in college basketball and included the following Big Ten players: Cassius Winston (1), Lamar Stevens (20), Jalen Smith (22), E.J. Liddell (28), Anthony Cowan Jr. (30), Xavier Tillman (35), Aaron Henry (53), Zavier Simpson (63), Ayo Dosunmu (66), Kaleb Wesson (77), Trevion Williams (85), Joshua Langford (94), Luka Garza (98), Matt Haarms (106).
  • The Big Ten is rated the nation’s fourth-best conference behind the SEC, ACC and Big East.


  • Athlon ranked the top 100 players in college basketball and the list includes several Big Ten players: Winston (1), Dosunmu (11), Jalen Smith (16), Lamar Stevens (22), Anthony Cowan Jr. (28), Xavier Tillman (38), Aaron Henry (43), Joe Wieskamp (45), Zavier Simpson (55), Kaleb Wesson (58), Joshua Langford (61), Matt Haarms (84), Jon Teske (97), Trevion Williams (98).
  • Athlon picks Michigan to make the NCAA Tournament along with Michigan State, Maryland, Ohio State, Purdue, Illinois and Iowa.
  • Pat Chambers is the only Big Ten coach listed as being on the hot seat.

Street & Smith’s

  • Street & Smith’s added Franz Wagner to its All-BiG ten newcomer team along with Rocket Watts (Michigan State), D.J. Carton (Ohio State), Patrick McCaffery (Iowa) and Jahaad Proctor (Purdue).
  • Only three Big Ten teams are in the magazine’s preseason top 25: Michigan State (1), Maryland (6) and Purdue (19).
  • Ohio State is tabbed as a “top five Final Four sleeper.”


  • The Weave was the only outlet to pick Franz Wagner as Big Ten Freshman of the Year. He’s joined by Cam Mack, Marcus Carr, Akwasi Yeboah and Trayce Jackson-Davis on the Newcomers team.
  • Zavier Simpson (1st) and Jon Teske (2nd) both received All-Big Ten nods from the Three Man Weave.

Notable Replies

  1. bacon141

    Lindy’s looks off their rocker. I don’t think it’s crazy to predict Michigan to miss the tournament. If we shoot poorly, we are probably going to miss. And your 3 point % can shift year to year even if you have some solid shooters on your team.

    But they have EJ Lidell in their top 30 players in the country when he wasn’t even considered a top 40 recruit in his class. And he’s a freshman. It is criminal to have him that high and have Ayo outside the top 50. Just comparing their rankings to the other magazines, they are the outlier on a couple things.

  2. umhoops

    A lot of feedback on our list about where Cowan was ranked. Seems notable that he was a consensus first team pick. So it isn’t just Alex and I who are crazy.

  3. umhoops

    I agree about Liddell/Ayo. I’m curious about the Liddell hype train… Seems like someone in Ohio State’s camp must really like him if he received two nods for frosh of the year. He wasn’t even really on my radar before a couple of weeks ago.

  4. bacon141

    Has to be someone talking him up. But even then, can’t take offseason hype seriously enough to bump up a player that much. Every offseason we hear about players putting in a great offseason, how it’s night and day compared to last year, really added to their game etc etc. Only for that player to improve only marginally or not nearly as significantly as was expected.

  5. Tom48160

    But how is EJ Lidell going to be Freshman of the Year when OSU already told DJ Carton that he’s going to win that award?

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