The Big Ten released the preseaon coaches poll Wednesday afternoon and it comes as no surprise to anyone who follows college soccer even a bit that they have chosen Maryland as the preseason favorite.The Terps, who are coming off a two consecutive College Cup appearances including reaching the championship game in 2013, are second in the national coaches poll behind defending champion Notre Dame.
Michigan State, which finished third in the conference in 2013 and lost 1-0 to Indiana in the conference tournament final, was chosen as the likely runner-up followed by Michigan and last year's regular season champions, Penn State. Defending conference tournament champion Indiana rounds out the top five.
Five is an important number for the B1G as it represents the number of teams the conference placed in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. With the addition of Maryland and Rutgers, expanding the league to nine teams, it's probable that the conference will again place at least five squads in the tournament.
As they do with the women, the coaches tab three players to watch from each squad. Maryland's representatives are midfielder Tsubasa Endoh, goalkeeper Zack Steffen, and midfielder Dan Metzger. Metzger was also named to the preseason MAC Hermann Trophy watch list.
The Terps open their inaugural B1G season at Michigan on September 12 before hosting Michigan State in a key early season conference meeting a week later. Two of the Terps last three conference games will be on the road but in all three will face teams in the bottom half of the preseason predictions. Maryland visits Indiana on October 19 before hosting Ohio State and closing out the conference regular season at Rutgers.
Testudo Times will have an in depth men's soccer preview next week. However, I shared some of my early thoughts with Andrew in this week's podcast including the number of conference titles I think the Terps will capture in their first season.