Big Ten Basketball Season Preview
Joe Skinner, Kevin McConlogue and Andrew Destin preview the Big Ten basketball season:
Last season, the Big Ten had only four teams make the NCAA Tournament with a lot of traditional powers having down seasons. This season many people think some of those teams will be back to full strength, and the conference will have a larger presence in the tournament come March.
Michigan State is the preseason conference favorite with two preseason All-Big Ten selections in Cassius Winston and Nick Ward. Coach Tom Izzo also brings in another stout recruiting class with four-star freshman Foster Loyer leading the way. The Spartans think they have a team that can rebound from a surprising second-round exit last season and make a deep tournament run.
Michigan made it all the way to the national championship game last season. However, the Wolverines really aren’t getting much preseason press after losing Mo Wagner and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman. The Wolverines do return Charles Matthews and Jordan Poole along with some new faces for coach John Beilein.
Nebraska is a sleeper team to win the conference. The Cornhuskers are a team we do not see a lot of in college basketball today, having mostly upperclassmen with almost their whole roster returning. Coach Tim Miles thinks this team could surprise some people this season.
Purdue will be led by preseason All-Big Ten selection and National Player of the Year candidate Carsen Edwards. The Boilermakers are coming off a Sweet 16 run a season ago but lose Isaac Haas and Vincent Edwards. If Carsen Edwards becomes the player people expect him to be, the Boilermakers can duplicate that run this season.
Wisconsin missed the tournament for the first time since 1998 last season and was ravaged by injuries. This season the Badgers get back Brad Davison from injury to go along with preseason player of the year candidate, Ethan Haap. Wisconsin is also expecting bigger contributions from its role players such as D’mitrick Trice and Kobe King.
Minnesota is another preseason sleeper. The Golden Gophers are led by double-double machine Jordan Murphy. Coach Richard Pitino believes his team has a lot of depth with Pittsburgh transfer Marcus Carr joining the roster.
Indiana, one of college basketball’s blue bloods, is looking to return to the tournament for the first time since 2016. The Hoosiers are starting to buy into Archie Miller’s scheme in his second season as head coach. Indiana also has Juwan Morgan and Romeo Langford returning to its starting lineup this season.
Penn State is coming off an NIT Championship in 2018 but has to replace two of its best scorers in Tony Carr and Shep Garner. Preseason reports say that Lamar Stevens could become an All-Big Ten type player. If Mike Watkins and Jamari Wheeler also make a big impact, Pat Chambers' Nittany Lions could surprise some people and make the tournament.
Ohio State lost a lot of its top players from last season’s NCAA Tournament team, including leading scorer Keita Bates-Diop. This could be a rebuilding year in Columbus with a lot of new players seeing significant minutes, including Wake Forest transfer Keyshawn Woods. The Buckeyes are definitely one of the Big Ten’s biggest mysteries.
Maryland is another team that lost a lot of their top talent and scorers. Mark Turgeon is still confident his team can make a run this season with Anthony Cowan Jr. and Bruno Fernando. The Terps are another one of the conference’s mysteries.
Iowa returns its leading scorer Tyler Cook and is looking to surprise some people by returning to the tournament for the first time since 2016. The Hawkeyes don’t have a lot of natural scorers so expect the Hawkeyes to be a team that relies a lot on defense and ball movement to do well.
Northwestern went from the high of its first-ever tournament appearance in 2017 to missing the postseason altogether in 2018. If Chris Collins’ team wants to get back there it will rely heavily on two transfers: Evansville transfer Evan Taylor and Boston College transfer A.J. Turner.
Illinois is starting to buy into second year coach Brad Underwood’s philosophy. The Illini have a preseason All-Big Ten candidate in Trent Frazier and should make some strides forward this season.
Rutgers is looking to start to find a mojo this year. Coach Steve Pikiell is looking to improve the Scarlet Knights’ win total from a season ago and try to make Rutgers a competitive Big Ten team moving forward.
Kevin McConlogue is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor in political science. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org.