Ben Johnson has yet to achieve success at Minnesota in either on or off-court capacities since taking over three years ago, which is unlikely to change this season on either front. So the Gophers need some recruiting victories; unfortunately, Daniel Freitag, one of their top 2024 prospects from Minnesota, already committed to Wisconsin, so the recruiting end is going about as well as the winning games are.
Mike Rhoades brings in an entirely different roster and philosophy than Micah Shrewsberry did, so there’s no telling how well his system and roster will mesh for Penn State in Year 1. However, given their experience this season in the B1G, this appears to be an uphill battle.
Nkamhoua’s arrival is a welcome relief for Michigan. His best performances as a Volunteer came against Texas and Duke, showing that he thrives under pressure. But Michigan must still find its paddle if it hopes to advance beyond an NIT appearance.
Cam Spencer’s surprise departure has taken the Scarlet Knights a few notches down in national rankings. Although they should still rank among the best defensive teams in college basketball, their offense may resemble Iowa football, as the Knights will have issues scoring.
Fran McCaffery must find a solution once again this season to replace Iowa’s best player; after finding solutions with both Luka Garza and Keegan Murray before, something tells me he will find one this time as well.
The Hawkeyes could surprise many by exceeding initial projections if more players step forward to fill Kris Murray big shoes, Filip Rebraca and Connor McCaffery’s roles should be expanded this season.
Rutgers and Northwestern have emerged from nowhere to earn top-4 seeds in the Big Ten Tournament over the past two seasons; I wouldn’t dare predict something that big here, but it is possible.
Now that Keisei Tominaga has returned, the Huskers should become even more entertaining to watch!
Ohio State’s freshman core made their presence felt late in the season, which helped explain why Chris Holtmann never found himself threatened in his job as coach.
Bruce Thornton, Roddy Gayle and Felix Okpara have the potential to be one of the Big Ten’s most accomplished trios if Holtmann can keep the team together after this season. Minnesota forward Jamison Battle’s addition will help return Ohio State into NCAA Tournament contention.
Terrence Shannon Jr. and Coleman Hawkins’ surprising decision to return for another year may make the Illini one of the most dangerous teams in the country. Add in Dain Dainja and Southern Illinois transfer Marcus Domask becoming viable options that should return the Illini to NCAA Tournament contention.
This season, Jeremiah Williams Temple’s transfer point guard will determine Illinois’ fate. Last year, inexperience led Brad Underwood to shift Shannon to point guard; if Illinois can keep Shannon in his natural role – off-ball – then their ranking can surpass this one.
Chase Audige would have provided Northwestern with an extra boost, but the Wildcats will still rank among the best teams in the Big Ten even without him. Boo Buie and Ty Berry return from last season. Princeton transfer wing Ryan Langborg helped lead his Tigers team to the Sweet 16! Langborg should help restore some offense that ran dry last year.
The Terps have an impressive ceiling for this season and could be a dark horse to win the Big Ten. At minimum, they should make it back into the NCAA Tournament; if things click, they could even surpass that. Freshman DeShawn Harris-Smith and Jamie Kaiser could play critical roles in how far Maryland goes this year.
Maryland won all conference home games last season, while only managing one win on the road. Reliable play will be essential.
The Badgers may have experienced an uneven season, but that doesn’t diminish their veteran roster’s experience. Tyler Wahl, Steven Crowl and Max Klesmit are all seniors, while Chucky Hepburn is poised for a breakout junior campaign, and Connor Essegian could soon emerge as an emerging star.
Getting a National Player of the Year award player back for another year is no small feat – only four teams in 30 years have achieved that – and Zach Edey could help propel Purdue back up the rankings with his presence in their lineup.
Everyone knows Purdue needs to improve its backcourt, and in most cases, freshmen usually flourish as sophomores. Purdue fans may be wary of investing too emotionally into this year’s team after having seen such poor showings over the last two Marches; nonetheless, this one should make you excited!
There are still a few variables that will ultimately determine if Indiana can meet or surpass this ranking, including 5-star freshman forward Mackenzie Mgbako and former 5-star recruit Kel’el Ware (Oregon transfer center).
Trayce Jackson-Davis’ leadership was one of the more underappreciated aspects of his game. Point guard Xavier Johnson will have big shoes to fill when taking over for Trayce in the locker room.
The Spartans are preseason-heavy favorites for the same reason Indiana was last year: they return an abundance of production.
Indiana ultimately fell short of winning the Big Ten championship due to an injury suffered by point guard Xavier Johnson, but things can happen quickly in athletics.
With an experienced core of AJ Hoggard, Tyson Walker and Jaden Akins leading them forward, Michigan State’s Spartans should have no trouble scoring. But freshman center Xavier Booker may prove key as an offensive playmaker inside. If he can improve Michigan State’s ability to score inside, this could become much more than just a Big Ten contender.
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