There's a consensus opinion among Big Ten men's basketball coaches this season: Maryland is the team to beat.
USA Today's preseason men's basketball poll ranks Maryland third in the country – one of five Big Ten teams in its Top 25.
- No. 3 - Maryland
- No. 13 - Michigan State
- No. 15 - Indiana
- No. 17 - Wisconsin
- No. 24 - Purdue
The Gophers, to no one's surprise, are not ranked in the poll and they failed to have one player selected to the All-Big Ten preseason team.
"It's a young team," Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino said, according to FOX Sports North. "We've got a lot of opportunities for them to play and to do a lot of things on the court by learning on the court. I'm excited to really get rolling."
Carlos Morris, Minnesota's returning leading scorer at 11.1 points per game last season, might be in line for a big season. "I think he's primed to really improve," Pitino said.
Two other names that are starting to attract attention are freshmen: Ahmad Gilbert, a 6-foot-6 small forward who can shoot, and Jordan Murphy, a 6-foot-6 power forward who has been practicing some at center with Bakary Konate out for a few weeks with a stress fracture in his foot, the Pioneer Press reports.
The Gophers are projected to be a young, small team trying to swim with some much bigger fish. Nebraska's Tim Miles, via the Star Tribune, put it best when analyzing the depth of the conference.
“It reminds me of the NFL — you look at those top four or five teams that seem to be in it every year: Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, Wisconsin. So it feels like there are like eight of us playing for like three spots," Miles said.
Minnesota went 18-15 last season and did not participate in any postseason tournaments. The 2016-17 season opens Nov. 13 at Williams Arena against the University of Missouri-Kansas City.