The early departures to the NBA are coming out in the wake of the 2013 NCAA Tournament the exceptionally good Big Ten this year is expected to be gutted by early entries. There were already several good seniors, but the underclass talent on teams like Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State will severely cut into the league.
That means next year's conference crown could be decided by which team returns the most. That is an area where our own Boilermakers are looking fairly strong. Here is a breakdown of what all 12 teams in the league lose.
Illinois Fighting Illini
Brandon Paul - 16.6 ppg, 2.7 apg
D.J. Richardson - 12.3 ppg
Tyler Griffey - 7.2 ppg
Sam McLaurin - 3.8 ppg
Mike Shaw - 3.6 ppg
Ibby Djimbe - 0.2 ppg
Devin Langford - 0.5 ppg
The first four of those seven are graduating seniors that played a lot of games for the Illini. The last three are transfers that did not play much and recently announced they would be leaving. That's still a ton of roster turnover. Only Tracy Abrams returns averaging in double figures. Nnanna Egwu was a good defensive player in the second half of the year.
Illinois has to hope a five-man freshman class with three four-star rated players can have a huge immediate impact, especially since two are teammates of Jabari Parker at Chicago Simeon
Cody Zeller - 16.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.3 apg
Victor Oladipo - 13.6 ppg, 6.3 ppg, 2.1 apg
Christian Watford - 12.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg
Jordan Hulls - 9.7 ppg, 3.0 apg
Derek Elston - 1.1 ppg
Unknown, but with six signees and only five spots open SOMEONE else has to leave or be prep schooled.
Everyone loses someone, but only Michigan might approach the amount of talent Indiana is losing. Four starters are definitely gone, leaving just Kevin Ferrell , Remy Abell, and sixth man Will Sheehey as proven college players. What's worse is the loss of the chemistry and experience that Indiana had. The five guys here played a ton of games together in Bloomington. They brought the program back to respectability, but they represent 53.2 points per game of offense. Three of them shot better than 44% from three and they lose a center that played a large role in getting them those looks.
Noah Vonleh should help ease the transition, but going from Zeller to Luke Fischer-Peter Jurkin at the five is a huge downgrade. Considering how much Zeller opened things up for Indiana they could be in for a long season if neither one of them can be a serviceable center.
Christopher Rickert - 1.7 ppg
Eric May - 5.2 ppg, 1.8 apg
This is why Iowa could be a dark horse Big Ten title contender next year and should be a lock for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006. They get almost everything back from team that was awfully close in six Big Ten losses and went 9-9. Even if they stay the same and everyone else gets worse that raises them up a level.
Eso Akunne - 1.2 ppg
Matt Vogrich - 1 ppg
Josh Bartelstein - 0 ppg
Blake McLimans - 0.6 ppg
Corey Person - 0.8 ppg
Trey Burke - 18.6 ppg, 6.7 apg
Tim Hardaway Jr. - 14.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.4 apg
Glenn Robinson III - 11 ppg, 5.4 rpg
Mitch McGary - 7.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg
The good news is that even with five seniors on the roster Michigan loses virtually nothing from them. The bad news is they could lose four starters that would possibly be first round NBA picks if they declared early. That is a ton of scoring to replace, not to mention Burke's leadership and distribution that worked so perfectly with their offense.
Burke is all but gone. It would be almost unprecedented in this day and age for a National Player of the Year to stay in school. McGary had laughed off the NBA until now, but he had a great NCAA Tournament and his stock is really high. Hardaway and Robinson are NBA legacies, so they are going to give the Draft a serious look because they know a team will give them a serious look.
You also can't discount the invaluable experience that Michigan lost. They could lose the bulk of a team that was minutes from a National title and, if they all returned, would likely be the favorite to win it all in 2014. If all four turn pro that is a huge loss.
Michigan does have a three-man recruiting class of all four-star players, led by Indiana Mr. Basketball Zak Irvin.
Derrick Nix - 9.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg
Gary Harris - 12.9 ppg, 1.4 apg
Keith Appling - 13.4 ppg, 3.3 apg
Adreian Payne - 10.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg
Harris, Appling, and Payne have not officially declared one way or the other, but they are at least investigating the NBA waters. As Michigan State's top three scorers with Nix the No. 4 guyt hey could deal the Spartans a significant blow if all three leave. Michigan State only has a one-man recruiting class as well.
It does look like Branden Dawson will be back for another year of pissing off Purdue fans, however. Michigan State appears to have the most riding on guys staying, aside from Michigan, that is.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
Trevor Mbakwe - 10 ppg, 8.7 rpg
Julian Welch - 3.0 ppg
Andre Ingram - 1.8 ppg
Rodney Williams - 10.1 ppg, 5 rpg
Who knows? With a new coach there could be multiple transfers.
Williams and Mbakwe were two large reasons Minnesota returned to the NCAA Tournament, but the Gophers are already behind the rest of the league with a one-man recruiting class for a new coach to replace four seniors. It is unknown if there will be transfers, either, as is common when a new coach comes in.
I would be surprised if Minnesota made the NCAA tourney next year. They have too many questions to accurately forecast that right now.
Brandon Ubel - 11.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg
Dylan Talley - 13.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.5 apg
Andre Almeida - 4.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg
As expected, there are no early entries from one of the worst teams in the Big Ten, but they gain quite a bit in terms of transfers who sat out this past season. Terran Petteway (Texas Tech), Walter Pitchford (Florida) and Deverell Biggs (JuCo) all sat out this past season for transfer reasons, so they are D-1 players ready to step in for a team that loses two of its best players.
At the very least Nebraska should be a pesky team to beat at home when they open their new arena.
Reggie Hearn - 13.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg
Alex Marcotullio - 5.2 ppg, 1.6 apg
Jared Swopshire - 9.7 ppg, 6.7
Drew Crawford - 13.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg
As a quick sidebar, do you think Swopshire regrets leaving Louisville? He left a team that won a National title to go play for the only BCS conference school to never even make the NCAA Tourney.
A big key is Crawford, who played part of this season and has to apply for a fifth year after missing most of this past season with a shoulder injury. If he can come back Northwestern will once again be an interesting team to watch. Chris Collins has the unenviable task of getting them over the NCAA hump, but he has some key pieces, especially with JerShon Cobb's year long suspension ending.
Ohio St. Buckeyes
Evan Ravenel - 4.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg
Deshaun Thomas - 19.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.3 apg
Even losing the Big Ten's top scorer the Buckeyes will likely be the favorites to win the league next season. Aaron Craft will finally be a senior and he hs Lenzelle Smith Jr., Sam Thompson, Shannon Scott, and Amir Williams back to help him out on a roster that will be dominated with juniors and seniors. That eases the loss of Thomas quite a bit.
Once again though, Thad Matta's tendency to have a short bench could hurt them, but it hasn't yet. That's why Ohio State has won at least a share of the Big Ten in five of the last eight years and came within Michigan missed free throws of winning a sixth share.
Nick Colella - 4 ppg
Akosa Maduegbunam - 0.4 ppg
Pat Ackerman - 0.6 ppg
At least one of those last two is likely transferring as Penn State is over its scholarship if both stay and all four incoming commits come to State College. John Johnson will be eligible in December after transferring midseason from Pittsburgh, and Tim Frazier will be back for an unexpected fifth season.
That means the Nittany Lions have quite a bit of cohesion that was by far playing its best basketball late in the season. They lose five points and get back their best player in Frazier, so they could make the biggest jump of any team in the league.
D.J. Byrd - 10.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.7 apg
Dru Anthrop - 1 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 0.8 apg
Sandi Marcius - 3.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg
As you can see, only Penn State and Iowa are losing less. That gives Purdue one of the most consistent lineups in the league in terms of what returns. Marcius and Anthrop were DNPs for multiple games, so Byrd is the only true regular not coming back.
I never thought I would say this, but I am really hoping Marcius stays and decides not to transfer. The big Croatian really came on late in the season and if A.J. Hammons continues to improve Purdue has a fantastic big man tandem.
As we know, Kendall Stephens is hoped to be a better shooter to replace Byrd immediately and the remaining players mesh better while playing more team-oriented basketball and defense. Purdue's defense was more than suspect for a good portion of the season, so the Boilers will only be as good as their defense improves.
Ryan Evans - 10.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2 apg
Dan Fahey - 1.1 ppg
J.D. Wise - 0.6 ppg
Mike Bruesewitz - 6.4 ppg
Jared Berggren - 11 ppg, 6.9 rpg
Next year's Wisconsin team is going to be a little younger than we're used to. Ben Brust and Sam Dekker will be the leaders on a team that loses two double-digit scorers. They already have a leader for "large, white polish-American forward to deliver pain on screens" in Frank Kaminsky. Traevon Jackson is also a key piece returning.
The five seniors are replaced by a five-man recruiting class led by 4-star talent Bronson Koenig.
On paper at least, the ingredients are there if the returning Purdue players learn from the coaching staff, improve over the summer, and form a cohesive unit with the incoming freshmen. Purdue can make a big leap in a league where only Ohio State has the definite look of being a national contender. If Michigan's four big stars all make the NBA jump that means powers Indiana and Michigan lose an awful lot. Michigan State and Ohio State will still be good. Iowa will be pretty good. Penn State and Purdue can make big jumps. All-in-all, it will be a different, but still fun Big Ten.