Maybe this is way too early, but most teams have the rosters they will enter the season with. Plus, it’s never too early to talk Big Ten Basketball.
Minnesota was one of the lowest scoring teams nationally last season, and their offense didn’t improve much since they lost two key players – Jamison Battle and Ta’Lon Cooper ware no longer with them – although Dawson Garcia was back leading with 15.3 ppg and 6.7 rpg for them this time around.
The Gophers made use of the transfer portal to add two guards. Mike Mitchell who averaged 11.4 points and five assists per game at Pepperdine University, while Elijah Hawkins produced 12.9 points and six rebounds per game at Howard. These were two notable passers available via this mechanism, but did they provide enough weapons?
Minnesota could owe their success in 2023/24 to having forwards Parker Fox and Isaiah Unser healthy. Both players missed substantial time due to injuries over the last two seasons. They could give the Gophers a shot to move up in these rankings during the upcoming season if healthy.
Michigan was unquestionably the biggest loser this offseason in Big Ten Basketball after missing the NCAA Tournament and immediately losing two starters on their perimeter, Kobe Bufkin and Jett Howard, to the NBA Draft. Their most significant blow came when Hunter Dickinson entered the transfer portal and signed with Kansas – their best player having been signed away.
The team attempted to replace some of the talent lost through the portal but has been mostly unsuccessful. Caleb Love, who led North Carolina with 16.7 points per game last season, was added; however, due to reported admission issues, they parted ways soon after that.
Michigan does have Alabama transfer Nimari Burnett, who should be available to play next season, providing depth next to returning point guard Dug McDaniel but ultimately, there remains a lack of depth overall. Juwan Howard will be unemployed by season’s end.
Last season was an exceptional season, winning 20+ games1. They made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011. However, Jalen Pickett (All-American guard) and other key players without eligibility are gone, and that wasn’t the most significant loss for the Nittany Lions..
Coach Micah Shrewsberry left for Notre Dame with many of his underclassmen and freshmen who could’ve returned; Penn State managed to hire VCU’s Mike Rhoades, who brought Ace Baldwin Jr with him – both coach and player are a win for Penn State!
Last season, this point guard averaged 12.7 points and 5.8 assists per game, earning both Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and Defender of the Year honors. Part of a completely reconstructed roster featuring Mayquawndis Mitchell (17.3 PPG on 35% shooting), Lafayette transfer Leo O’Boyle (11.6 PPG on 41% 3PT shooting), and VCU guard/wing Nick Kern.
Penn State could be good this coming season but a ton of new pieces will have to fit together for that to happen.
Even though Nebraska missed out on another NCAA Tournament appearance this past season, they certainly made strides going forward this past year. Coach Fred Hoiberg saw Keisei Tominaga put up impressive averages (13.1ppg on 40% shooting from three), who will return next season for more action.
Nebraska lost some key players – forward Derrick Walker, guard Sam Griesel, and starting guard Emmanuel Bandoumel – but CJ Wilcher and Juwan Gary will return along with three quality transfers.
Rienk Mast averaged 13.8 points and 8.0 rebounds at Bradley and was recognized with two All-MVC awards. He’s set to replace Walker in the frontcourt. Meanwhile, Josiah Allick from New Mexico averaged 8.4 points per game and 7.33 boards on an impressive season in college basketball.
Backcourt newcomers will be essential. Brice Williams averaged 13 points a game at Charlotte and shot 40% from deep; Ahron Ulis moves over from Iowa as a point guard and should be able to amass assists next season thanks to Nebraska’s many shooters who will need passing. But will this core be enough to move Nebraska beyond the bottom of its conference?
Rutgers season was derailed when starting forward Mawot Mag was injured, eventually missing out on NCAA Tournament. Although Mag has returned, some critical pieces from Rutgers’ roster, such as Caleb McConnell (no eligibility left) and Cam Spencer, who tied for the team lead with 13.2 points per game on 43% three-point shooting, entered transfer portal this offseason.
Cliff Omoruyi (13.2 points and 9.6 rebounds per game) and Paul Mulcahy (8.3 points per game and 4.9 assists per game) have both returned after exploring their options in the NBA Draft.
Aundre Hyatt and guard Derek Simpson look poised for significant sophomore years. UMass also added Noah Fernandes, who averaged 14.9 ppg and 5.3 assists per game during his only fully healthy junior year (two years ago), although only played 11 games this past year due to injuries.
Rutgers will also welcome top-50 guard Gavin Griffiths this season to offset Spencer’s departure.
Every season under Fran McCaffery’s guidance, the Hawkeyes boast one of the top offenses in Big Ten Basketball and nationally. But next season may prove challenging as both Kris Murray and Filip Rebraca left; also gone are leading passers Connor McCaffery and Ahron Ulis, who played key roles.
Iowa has so far focused on strengthening its frontcourt. They brought in Ben Krikke from Valpo University, who averaged 19.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game while being named a three-time All-MVC selection, along with Even Brauns, who produced 7.0 ppg and 5.33 rebounds at Belmont and is 6’9″, 250 pounds big man.
Tony Perkins will now serve as the focal point of the backcourt, serving as its top returning scorer and averaging 12.3 ppg and 2.8 APG this past season, scoring 32 points against Illinois alone. Dasante Bowen and Josh Dix will play more significant roles behind Perkins while three-star recruit Brock Harding should help out the Hawkeyes also.
Expect Payton Sandfort to play a significant role as well after he averaged 10.3 points in 21 minutes while mostly coming off the bench.
Illinois will miss second-leading scorer Matthew Mayer as well as three underclassmen guards: Jayden Epps, Skyy Clark and RJ Melendez.
Coleman Hawkins and Terrence Shannon made headlines by withdrawing from the NBA Draft and opting back into play after pulling out.
The Illini have added three transfers to help offset roster losses. Marcus Domask, a 6’6 wing who averaged 16.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game at Southern Illinois during each full season, was an all-league selection each time; Justin Harmon from Utah Valley scored double-digit scores; while Quincy Guerrier transferred in from Oregon.
The Illini could still use some depth at guard.
Ohio State had an inauspicious past season under Coach Chris Holtmann but should have had better fortune this time around. While they lost three top scorers – including freshman Brice Sensabaugh who is entering the NBA Draft this summer.
Ohio State returns some key pieces this season, such as starting center Zed Key (10.8 points and 7.50 rebounds per game), along with freshman guard Bruce Thornton who will likely become one of the breakout stars of Big Ten Basketball this season. Roddy Gayle Jr. and Felix Okpara are two other key freshmen on their roster that should also contribute significantly.
Jamison Battle led a trio of transfers who joined Minnesota, including averaging 12.4 points at Minnesota and 17.5 in his previous season. Penn State forward Evan Mahaffey played around 10 minutes per game last season before coming over. Veteran guard Dale Bonner added backcourt depth.
So far, the Wisconsin Badgers’ offseason has been relatively uneventful, but that may benefit them. From their entire rotation this past season, all but Jordan Davis – an average scorer with 5.1 ppg and 3.5 rpg averages – have returned. They arguably found a suitable replacement in 6’6 freshman AJ Storr who produced 8.8 points on 40% 3-point shooting from deep.
All four rotation players who averaged double figures from last season will return next season, including guards Chucky Hepburn and Connor Essegian and forwards Steven Crowl and Tyler Wahl. Tyler Wahl must be healthy, as his injuries last season seemed to derail the Badgers during the latter stages of the year.
Wisconsin will need to improve its offense as well. They finished 331st nationally in scoring, second only to Minnesota among Big Ten Basketball teams. Wisconsin was one of the worst shooting teams, and even though they took many three-point shots, they weren’t very efficient from the field.
One of the biggest surprises in college basketball, Northwestern won 22 games and made the NCAA Tournament for just the second time in program history. And they did it while having a frontcourt that was much less talented on paper after losing two key frontcourt players.
The team will be without two more again, as Tydus Verhoeven and Robbie Beran are gone. They bring back 7’0 big man Matthew Nicolson, one of the most impactful interior defenders in all of Big Ten Basketball last season. Joining him is Blake Preston, a 6’9 forward from Liberty that averaged 6.7 ppg and 5.1 rpg.
The most important thing for Northwestern is that Boo Buie is back for a 5th year. The star guard led the team with 17.3 ppg and 4.5 apg and had numerous big games to get them into the postseason. Chase Audigeshould return, that’s one of, if not the best, backcourt in the Big Ten.
The Terrapins have seen several departures this offseason, most from their bench, but two starters, Donald Carey and Hakim Hart, transferring to Villanova this offseason, are no longer with them. Ian Martinez and Patrick Emilien had been two main contributors off their bench, so there will be a need to replace them as well.
Maryland has already secured three transfers: Mady Traore is an 8’11 big man from New Mexico State who appeared in only seven games last season; Chance Stephens averaged 6.0 points as a freshman at LMU while making 37% of his three-point attempts; Jordan Geronimo hails from Indiana with three years’ worth of bench experience off the bench;
What sets the Terrapins apart in the Big Ten is their trio of returning players, all of whom averaged double figures last season – including all-conference guard Jahmir Young who led with 15.8 ppg and 3.1 apg; forwards Julian Reese and Donta Scott form one of the strongest frontcourts in conference.
Maryland will remain competitive next season if one or more incoming freshman wings and guards from this recruiting class have a significant first-year impact. That, or Maryland can land one more transfer through the portal.
Purdue looks poised for another impressive campaign in 2023-24. So far, they’ve only lost Brandon Newman to Western Kentucky; his replacement could surpass him on paper; Lance Jones hails from Southern Illinois, where he played four years as a starter, averaging 13.8 points and 2.4 assists per game in 2017.
Fletcher Loyer and Braden Smith, two quality freshmen guards who excelled in their first years as Boilermakers freshman guards, return with any improvement by them lowering the floor of Boilermakers play and making them less vulnerable to upsets. Furthermore, having forwards like Caleb Furst, Mason Gillis, and Trey Kaufman-Renn keep frontcourt depth strong.
In the end, the question will be, can the Boilermakers when come tourna time? I think we already know that answer!
Indiana stands out in Big Ten Basketball by losing four leading scorers – Race Thompson and Miller Kopp, both having reached eligibility limits; Jalen Hood-Schifino and Trayce Jackson-Davis, both expected to join the NBA draft as projected draft picks; two rotation players gone are Tamar Bates and Jordan Geronimo.
Coach Mike Woodson and his staff did a stellar job recruiting, successfully filling their frontcourt roster. Starting with Oregon transfer Kel’el Ware as their headline player and recruiting Ball State center Payton Sparks and Miami combo forward Anthony Walker as future additions – it has all come together successfully.
Mackenzie Mgbako was one of the biggest coups, coming off his commitment to Duke, the wing commit is projected as a one and done NBA Draft pick. Together with Ware, Mgbako gives Indiana one of the highest ceilings in Big Ten Basketball.
Indiana Hoosiers veteran guard Xavier Johnson returns for a sixth year, providing them with much-needed backcourt stability.
Tom Izzo has avoided using the transfer portal in recent seasons. Now it makes perfect sense as they project to have one of the top-5 overall teams next season; their only roster losses include backup wing Pierre Brooks and forward Joey Hauser.
Everyone should come back out for the Spartans.
Tyson Walker returns for his fifth season, along with Malik Hall, after recovering from injuries that limited him last year. All centers including Mady Sissoko and Jaxon Kohler, will return as well.
An elite recruiting class also joined the squad, led by top-60 guards Coen Carr and Gehrig Normand, capable of filling any roles should one of those veterans stay in the NBA Draft; top-30 guard Jeremy Fears Jr. may prove too valuable not to play immediately as a freshman, and top-10 big man Xavier Booker stands as an anchor of sorts for this squad.
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