College Hockey:
Wisconsin favored in Big Ten preseason poll; Minnesota’s Rau unanimous player to watch

Wisconsin is the preseason favorite for the inaugural season of the Big Ten, as voted on by the league’s coaches and announced Thursday.

In addition, the coaches also selected a preseason Players to Watch list, highlighted by unanimous selection Kyle Rau from Minnesota.


1. Wisconsin
2. Minnesota
3. Michigan
4. (tie) Michigan State
4. (tie) Ohio State
6. Penn State


Player's Name
Mac BennettDSr.Michigan
Matt BerryFJr.Michigan State
Ryan DzingelFJr.Ohio State
Alex GuptillFJr.Michigan
Jake HildebrandGSo.Michigan State
Nic KerdilesFSo.Wisconsin
Jake McCabeDJr.Wisconsin
Max McCormickFJr.Ohio State
Michael MerschFSr.Wisconsin
Kyle RauFJr.Minnesota
Mike ReillyDSo.Minnesota
Adam WilcoxGSo.Minnesota
Mark ZengerleFSr.Wisconsin

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  • Travis Beauchamp

    Does anyone else see this for the pathetic conference that it is? Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State were average at best last year in the CCHA. Penn State is just starting out. Already miss the good old days.

    • joe

      Its not about what the conference is today. Its about what it will be 2-3 years from now when the top notch recruits start pouring in. Would you rather be playing for teams where your games are on BTN and ESPN or some crappy video streaming service and handful of games on CBSSN? Would you rather being playing against nationally recognized teams such as Michigan and Minnesota or Bemidji State, Michigan Tech, or St. Cloud? I think the B1G teams will thrive in the new conference compared to their old WCHA/CCHA foes. NCHC will still produce some good teams, but it will be hard to recruit against the B1G juggernaut.

      • BeaverFever

        I would rather be playing somewhere where the school and fans care more about hockey than TV contracts and football. Life in Bemidji and Houghton revolves around DI hockey. The wave of the future is streaming video. By the way, in Columbus and State College, fans are not aware that any other sport other than football exists at the school on Saturday. It has always been hard to recruit against the B1G “13″ schools, and yet, for some reason no B1G “13″ school has won a national championship since 2007.

        • joe

          Have fun in the “WCHA.” You guys and Atlantic Hockey can battle it out for the worst conference in D1. At least you will get your autobid team in the NCAA each year. I predict half of the teams in the WCHA will fold in 5 years. Without Minnesota, Wisconsin, UND, etc coming into your building, your ticket sales are going to plummet. Same thing with the old CCHA school, no Michigan coming in to fill the building. Also having two Alaska schools and Alabama is going to kill the league in travel costs. Also the fact that the WCHA rented the Xcel center in 2015 for their conference tournament is a joke. Its going to be an embarrassment having 2,000 people in a 18,000 seat arena. Should have just done the conference tourney in campus of highest seed.

          • BeaverFever

            Wow… What a great fan of the sport you must be. How great it will be for the landscape of college hockey if 5 teams do indeed fold. Thanks for showing your true colors.
            In response, while I certainly won’t profess that the nWCHA will ever rival the former, I think you are extremely wrong and mis-informed in your predictions.
            First, both Alaska schools and Alabama are helping foot the travel costs for the other league members as they always have. (Hasn’t caused UAA or UAF to fold so far.) Shouldn’t impact the mainland schools much if at all.
            Second, the AHA league is a non-scholarship league and does not even compare to the competitive teams that make up the nWCHA.
            (The schools “left” in the nWCHA have 21 frozen four appearances and 8 national championships compared to AHA’s 1 frozen four appearance and zero championships.)
            Third, Bemidji State played in the CHA up until 2011. No Minnesota or Wisconsin in that league. Not even any other school in the Midwest for that matter. Yet packed arena and excellent ticket sales.
            Lastly, the Xcel center is a great venue for hockey whether there are 2000 or 18000 in attendance. As long as you are not there, it should be a fun tournament.

          • JakeB

            Good post… This guy (joe) is very biased, misinformed, or both. But FYI, the AHA is a scholarship league, just limited…a maximum of 12? is allowed, but it is not required. UConn, for one, offers no scholarships. They won’t have that choice moving to Hockey East next year. The odd makeup of the AHA has some members pushing for more, others remaining status quo. And, Air Force and Army in reality are full scholarship (the government pays for everybody).

          • BeaverFever

            Thanks for the correction. Yes, I meant less scholarships.

      • JakeB

        Hummm… They don’t (have top recruits) already?

        • tom

          How many of these top recruits say longer than 2 years. Look at Minnesota/Michigan and see how many players left early and sign pro contracts. Minnesota is becoming the Kentucky of Hockey. Sign players that only say one or two years.

          • JakeB

            So… ?????

      • Tech

        Joe from all of us Michigan Techers, FU

        • JakeB

          Kudos to the WCHA for pulling itself together (and giving Alabama-Huntsville a home). I’m rooting for you guys (MTU in particular) with a lot more respect now.

      • UAAFan

        The NCHC is and for the foreseeable future will be a stronger top-to-bottom hockey conference than the B1G. That’s a fact that any hockey fan understands.

    • JakeB

      Pathetic? Man, lighten up… Minn, Wisconsin, and the two Michigans aren’t dropping out of sight just because they’re in a smaller conference. Pick on PSU now, but my hunch is PSU will be reputable very quickly.

      The true measure of the BTC will be in adding numbers. The conference will prove itself “great for college hockey” if or when at least two more current Big Ten schools add D1 programs (and not adjunct members with top programs like Johns Hopkins in BTC Lacrosse). Otherwise, it will be just another BTC power play and money grab.

      • ChuckGandCrew

        How many other Big 10 schools have rinks, let alone anything more than a club team? It’s not going to happen, hockey costs to much to just start D1 programs.

        • JakeB

          Well, Penn Sate was a club team. And they jumped in. Only a pessimist says never. I’ll agree with you the ruined rivalries and the greed (below) stinks, but don’t show animosity or place blame on only the Big Ten. Make no mistake, the WCHA easily would have “survived”at a very high level without Wisconsin and Minnesota. The NCHC teams bailed, and left the remaining WCHA high and dry. The UND’s, UMD’s, Denver’s, CC’s, etc., aren’t all lilly-white either.

          • ChuckGandCrew

            Penn St was only able to because of an $88 million donation. I doubt that happens (strictly to spend on a hockey program) at very many other B1G schools.

    • Joyce Fox

      Um several online polls of the best or greatest college hockey programs have Michigan,Minnesota and Wisconsin all ranked in the top 5 or 10.But all the experts on here have the Big 10 conference as sucking.Get a clue or go back to watching gymnastics.

      • SCSU

        Can’t think of anything better than being ranked top 5 in the PRE-SEASON poll

    • ChuckGandCrew

      The Big 10′s greed may come back to bite then on this one. Hockey is too expensive to assume the other Big 10 schools will start programs and I don’t see another Kim Pegula turning up in Purdue, Northwestern etc. Those schools are struggling to stay competitive in Football and Basketball as it is. It’s too bad some really good rivalries were ruined for greed.

    • Matt Forget

      So basically, “get off my lawn”. Embrace the change. As we all know, college hockey is pretty dynamic and a team that did mediocre one season could be close to a national championship in the following seasons (see: UMass-Lowell). As Joe said, it’s not about what it is today, it’s about what it might be tomorrow.

      As an ECAC fan, maybe I’m biased/fortunate in that we are the only league that is not undergoing any shifts currently, but I really don’t see why this is such a huge deal.

  • SCSU

    Food for thought: Frozen 4 appearances since 2005: NCHC teams- 11; B1G- 7. National Champs: NCHC 2; B1G: 1

    • BeaverFever

      If you go back one year, to 2004, the numbers are even better. Frozen Four appearances: NCHC-13; B1G-7. National Champs: NCHC-3; B1G-1

      • tom

        How about just looking at the past 2 years what are the numbers.

        • BeaverFever

          Last two years… Frozen Four appearances: NCHC-1; B1G-1; nWCHA-1… National Championships: Zero for all…

    • uknownothing

      NCHC 0; B1G 0
      I love when people compare conferences that didn’t even exist until this year.
      Drop the puck!

  • Clarence Campbell

    hmmmmm…Shouldn’t there be at least 10 teams in the Big Ten? #CCHA was better #Notre Dame = Hockey East

  • Badgerpucks

    I gotta say as a novelty this B1G season will be fun. It’ll be fun to see more of Michigan, MSU and OSU. Probably not at the expense of UND, CC, and DU, but….. However, the NCHC is a beast. As a jerry-rigged, let’s get it on a TV network, some guy forks over all of PSU’s hockey money league? The novelty will wear out maybe by the end of the year, and definitely by year two.

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