Big Ten Men’s Basketball 2021 Season Preview
After a long offseason featuring top players getting drafted and coaching changes, it is about time for the 2021 Big Ten basketball season.
Let’s preview each team for the upcoming season.
No. 6 Michigan
Michigan enters the season ranked No. 6 despite losing Isaiah Livers and Franz Wagner, arguably its two best players. Its other star player, sophomore center Hunter Dickinson, is among the best players in the conference and will be essential for the Wolverines this season.
Michigan boasts the second-best recruiting class in college basketball and should continue to dominate in all areas behind head coach Juwan Howard. The Wolverines are legitimate contenders for the National Championship.
No. 7 Purdue
The Purdue Boilermakers enter the season ranked No. 7.
The Boilermakers are a deep team with plenty of returning talent, including leading scorer Trevion Williams, along with Eric Hunter Jr. and Zach Edey. With so much talent, Purdue will not only be one of the best teams in the Big Ten but in the entire nation.
Purdue is a favorite to win the Big Ten and could possibly win the NCAA tournament as well.
No. 11 Illinois
Despite Ayo Dosunmo getting drafted, Illinois is ranked No. 11 with its remaining talent.
Kofi Cockburn and Andre Curbelo will again lead the Illini. Illinois has a shot at the Big Ten and the NCAA tournament title.
No. 17 Ohio State
Ohio State enters the season ranked No. 17. E.J. Liddell, Justice Sueing and four-star newcomer Malaki Branham should keep the Buckeyes competitive following Duane Washington Jr.’s departure.
Ohio State will likely compete for the Big Ten title and make the NCAA tournament.
No. 22 Maryland
The Terps begin the season ranked No. 22. Maryland is slightly weaker due to Darryl Morsell’s departure, but Eric Ayala, Donta Scott and transfer Fatts Russell should make up for it.
Mark Turgeon is a good coach with a good roster, so it would not be surprising if Maryland moves way up in the rankings. The Terps probably won’t win the Big Ten, but they should definitely make the NCAA tournament.
Following Pat Chambers’ resignation last season, Penn State hired Purdue assistant Micah Shrewsberry to be its new head coach.
Shrewsberry has an impressive track record as a coach and has already improved Penn State’s recruiting. Seth Lundy is Penn State’s highest returning scorer from last season, followed by John Harrar and Sam Sessoms. Several players departed Happy Valley via the transfer portal, including Myreon Jones, Izaiah Brockington and Jamari Wheeler.
The Nittany Lions managed to land some transfers, though, including Jalen Pickett, Jevonnie Scott and Jaheam Cornwall. Although Penn State is rebuilding, Shrewsberry seems to have cultivated a good team culture, so there could be some surprises.
The Spartans are not an exciting team that people expect to dominate. But with Tom Izzo, you never know what’ll happen.
Michigan State has a habit of sneaking into the NCAA tournament and making noise, which is what they are capable of this year.
Rutgers returns two of its top four scorers in seniors Ron Harper Jr. and Geo Baker. The Scarlet Knights enter this season unranked despite the roster and a second-round appearance in the NCAA tournament.
Rutgers is talented and should return to the NCAA tournament.
Indiana’s roster is similar to last season’s.
Returning to Indiana is leading scorer, blocker and rebounder Trayce Jackson-Davis. Two other key players returning with Jackson-Davis are Rob Phinisee and Race Thompson.
The Hoosiers aren’t necessarily bad, just not good enough to compete with the other teams in its division. With a new coach in Mike Woodson, though, who knows.
Although Northwestern returns some talent, it is not a very deep or scary team besides Chase Audige. The Wildcats will likely be among the worst teams this season.
The Cornhuskers return almost no talent. Unfortunately for Nebraska fans, there isn’t much to look forward to this season.
The departure of both Marcus Carr and Liam Robbins is obviously bad news for Minnesota. Given the loss of both those players, things also look bleak up north.
Star players Luka Garza and Joe Wieskamp departed, fleecing Iowa of much of its talent.
Redshirt senior Jordan Bohannon should see a much bigger role this season, as he was Iowa’s third-best scorer in 2020-21. But since its two best players are now gone, expect Iowa to have a down year.
Wisconsin lost its two best players in D’Mitrik Trice and Micah Potter. For coach Greg Gard, Brad Davidson will have to step up. Wisconsin should be decent this season.
Nolan Wick is a first-year student majoring in journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.