Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings: Preseason
1) Purdue (-)
Purdue will face massive expectations as they try to follow in the footsteps of Virginia as National Champions the season after losing to a 16-seed. Zach Edey is back and will try to be the first back-to-back unanimous NPOY since Bill Walton in ‘71-’73. With nearly all of the firepower from last season back (86.6%) and a year of growth, Purdue looks poised for a strong run.
2) Michigan State (-)
MSU could be a 1A to Purdue’s 1 at the moment because Tom Izzo and the Spartans also brought back a slew of players, including Tyson Walker, AJ Hoggard, and Jaden Akins. Expect the season to come down to the Spartans vs the Boilermakers and each look ready to make a run come March.
3) Maryland (-)
There is a theme here as Maryland also brings back plenty of talent in Jahmir Young, Julian Reese, and Donta Scott. Add in some solid freshman alongside IU transfer, Jordan Geronimo, and Maryland will have a deeper roster than last year when the Terps finished 5th in the Big Ten.
4) Indiana (-)
Indiana will begin the post-Trayce Jackson-Davis era and there is going to be a lot riding on a few high recruits. Mackenzie Mgbako left Duke after Kyle Filipowski returned and Kel’el Ware was a 5-star recruit when he committed to Oregon. If these guys can mesh and play to their potential, Indiana can be a dangerous team, but if they settle a little bit, Indiana can miss an opportunity to jump up among the heavy hitters in the Big Ten.
5) Illinois (-)
The return of Terrance Shannon Jr, Coleman Hawkins, and Dain Dainja is a solid trio for Illinois. Throw in some transfers and Illinois might be able to rise above the group of 4 Big Ten Teams that tied for 5th place last season.
6) Wisconsin (-)
Wisconsin will return all five of its starters this season, but that team did miss the NCAA tournament. The Badgers will need progression to make it back to the dance and transfer, AJ Storr, may be able to help with shooting depth. The offense has to be better though, as a defense-first mentality crippled Greg Gard's squad at times last year.
7) Ohio State (-)
We still submit that Purdue broke the Buckeyes last season. The worst finish under Chris Holtman was the result of a crazy stretch in which the Buckeyes looked helpless. Bring in a healthy Zed Key and Jamison Battle from Minnesota, and there should be plenty of improvement in Columbus. Will that be enough to get back in the tourney, though?
8) Northwestern (-)
Northwestern is one of the more puzzling teams in the Big Ten. Chris Collins saved his job last season by riding a squad that played well together and knew who they were. With the loss of Chase Audige and Robbie Berhan, much more of the weight is going to fall on Boo Buie and Ty Berry. I’m not sure how these guys are going to handle that weight.
9) Iowa (-)
Unlike in football, Iowa has a real knack for finding scorers. Fran McCaffery won’t have any Murrays or Garzas this season, but he did bring in the Missouri Valley’s leading scorer, Ben Krikke to bolster an offense that features Payton Sandfort, Tony Perkins, and Fran’s son, Patrick. I’m not sure any defense will be played in Iowa City once football season is over.
10) Rutgers (-)
This will be a tougher year for the Scarlet Knights as three heavy impact players are gone. TJ McConnell was the best defensive player in the nation for years, Paul Mulcahy could beat you from anywhere and made the offense run, and Cam Spencer was a sharpshooter that forced you to rotate well. All are gone and now this is Cliff Omoruyi’s team. Cliff is a very good player, but a lot has to go right for Rutgers to do consistently well this season.
11) Michigan (-)
Hunter Dickinson leaving for Kansas guaranteed one less punchable face for the Wolverines, but also a lot less talent. Throw in losses of Kobe Bufkin and Jett Howard (and Caleb Love), and there just seems to be less talent on this roster for the season. I do think that Juwaun Howard is a good coach, but when you lose talent after finishing as an NIT team, it’s going to be a tough year.
12) Nebraska (-)
Nebraska should have lumped basketball tickets in with their football tickets so that they can say they were sold. The only reason people are going to NU games are to see Keisei Tominaga or because winter in Lincoln is mind-numbingly boring. Fred Hoiberg still has a job somehow despite winning less than a third of his games as the Huskers head coach.
13) Penn State (-)
Penn State just couldn’t hold onto a quality coach as Micah Shrewsberry went back to his home state. New coach, Mike Rhoades comes in with a tall task, but he did bring A10 POY, Ace Baldwin, with him. Penn State will mostly rely on transfers to get going but until Rhoades can start bringing in good recruits, it will be an uphill battle in Happy Valley.
14) Minnesota (-)
Minnesota is in the cellar of the Big Ten, there’s no two ways around it. Bringing back Dawson Garcia was a win for Ben Johnson but losing Jamison Battle was tough. Again, Minnesota will have to rely on transfers from small programs like Howard and Pepperdine and hope that injuries don’t occur. A potential bright spot could be Pharrel Payne taking a leap, but a winning record, let alone a NCAA tournament bid, seems out of reach.