NCAA

2015 Big Ten preseason power rankings

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2015 Big Ten preseason power rankings

BY JEFF SLADE

They’re 50 days until September 3rd. 

50 more days without the sounds of bands echoing through roaring stadiums; 50 more days without heated rivalry games and never-ending rankings debates; 50 days until we again have college football. 

To celebrate: we take a look at early preseason power rankings for the 2015 Big Ten season. 

Maryland’s first year in the Big Ten went better than many expected, going 7-6 and 4-4 in the conference, including wins over traditional powerhouse programs like Michigan and Penn State.

Will they be able to improve in their second season playing in the daunting Big Ten East – where exactly do the Terps fall in our rankings? 

<<<CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE FULL RANKINGS>>>

Plus, will any team be able to challenge defending national champions Ohio State in the East and what team has the best chance to make it out of the wide-open West? 

How do coaching changes affect the power dynamic of the Conference – and where does Jim Harbaugh and Michigan fit into the equation in his first year back in college? 

All that and more here, as we take a look at and rank all 14 teams in the Big Ten, with detailed previews for every team in the coming weeks.   

But we begin with the rankings: 

No. 14 - Purdue: 2014 Record: 3-9 (1-7) - Found themselves on the bottom of the standings last year, and nothing indicates things going differently in 2015.

No. 13 - Indiana: 2014 Record: 4-8 (1-7) - By far the bottom-dweller in the Big Ten East, not winning a single game inside the division last year.

<<<CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE FULL RANKINGS>>>

Gary Williams defends Tom Izzo's coaching style after controversial moment with player

Gary Williams defends Tom Izzo's coaching style after controversial moment with player

Former Maryland men's basketball head coach Gary Williams is sticking up for Michigan State's Tom Izzo after his heated interaction with player Aaron Henry during one of last week's NCAA tournament games. 

"I think a lot of the people that criticized Tom Izzo never played on a team, never coached a team and had no idea what they were talking about except they're part of a new generation that belives you shouldn't get on people, push people in that way," Williams said Tuesday on 106.7 The Fan's Sports Junkies.

Early in the second half of Michigan State's first-round matchup with the Bradley Braves, the Hall of Fame coach lost his cool while speaking to the freshman forward after a defensive mistake. Izzo at one point had to be restrained by a fellow player.

The video of the interaction quickly went viral and Izzo received both criticism and support from those around the league.

For Williams, who was also known for his fiery temperament, it's part of being a head coach. 

"And Izzo's Izzo. He's not going to change," Williams added. "He coach with Jud Heathcote when I was coaching at Ohio State back in the eighties. You know, you had to hold your ground and that's the way you coached and I coached the same way, and you get on players."

After the Spartans' 76-65 win, Izzo said he didn't see anything wrong with "challenging a kid that makes some mistakes."

"Aaron Henry -- trust me -- did some things that you can't do as a starter on a top-5 team at the end of your freshman year. They were effort-related," he said.

"I did get after him. He did respond. He did make a couple of big buckets. He did make some big free throws but that's not good enough. It's one-and-done time. The 'my-bads' are out the window."

While Izzo's perception on the court may be one thing, Williams knows off the court it's a whole different story between the head coach and his players.

"But the big thing Izzo does, and I tried to do, was once the game's over or once practice is over you've got your arm around the player, you're talking about different things in his life trying to get him to keep developing and making him understand that that's just basketball," Williams said. "You know, that was just that situation. I still love you, you know, you’re still the man that type of thing." 

Henry reiterated this sentiment as well after last week's game.

"I've heard worse from him,'' Henry said. “I’ve got it worse in practice before."

MORE NCAA NEWS: 

Maryland woman's basketball falls to UCLA in second round of NCAA Tournament

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Maryland woman's basketball falls to UCLA in second round of NCAA Tournament

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Michaela Onyenwere scored a career-high 30 points, Japreece Dean added 22 and UCLA squeezed past No. 3 seed Maryland 85-80 Monday night to earn its fourth consecutive berth in the Sweet 16 of the women’s NCAA Tournament.

Dean, the smallest player on the court, sank two free throws with 25 seconds remaining to make it 83-79, and the Bruins held on to beat the Terrapins on their own court.

No. 6 seed UCLA (22-12) will next face second-seeded UConn (33-2) on Friday in the semifinal round of the Albany Region.

Ranked first in the Pac-12 and third in the nation in offensive rebounding, the Bruins repeatedly gathered in their own missed shots and turned them into baskets. UCLA collected 27 offensive rebounds and finished with 27 second-chance points.

Maryland led 76-74 before UCLA’s Kennedy Burke grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on a put-back. Teammate Lindsey Corsaro followed with a three-point play with 3:34 left.

Brianna Fraser answered with a layup for the Terrapins to make it 79-78 with 3:16 remaining, and neither team scored again until Burke hit a jumper with 1:03 to go.

Kaila Charles led Maryland (29-5) with 23 points. The Big Ten regular season champions went 1 for 13 from beyond the arc and 15 for 25 from the free throw line.

UCLA, in contrast, sank seven 3-pointers and made 20 of 21 free throws.

After trailing for nearly the entire first half, the Terrapins scored seven straight points in the opening 50 seconds of the third quarter to go up 47-44, their first lead since 2-0.

The teams then started trading baskets, with neither holding an advantage of more than three points until Maryland’s Channise Lewis had a steal and a buzzer-beating layup to make it 71-66 entering the fourth quarter.

The Terrapins scored 31 points in the third period, 11 by Charles 6-for-9 shooting after a 2-for-9 first half.

UCLA had 17 offensive rebounds and got 15 points from Onyenwere in building a 44-40 halftime lead.

Jones kept Maryland close with 15 points on 7-for-7 shooting, but the Terrapins made only one 3-pointer in seven tries and were 7-for-12 at the foul line.

BIG PICTURE

UCLA: Led by the 5-foot-6 Dean and the very athletic Onyenwere, the Bruins were too quick for Maryland — especially on the boards. UCLA’s fast-paced attack just might work against UConn.

Maryland: With only one senior on the team, the Terrapins should be better next year. That won’t soften the disappointment of losing on their own floor to a lower seed.

UP NEXT

UCLA will be seeking a big upset over UConn, which would put the Bruins in the round of eight for the third time in school history.