We are officially less than three months away from the start of college basketball’s regular season. At this point in time, there are many questions that teams, players and coaching staff will be asking. Both of themselves and of the teams. In this post, we are going to explore some of those questions in an attempt to get a better understanding of what could happen in the Big Ten Conference for this season.
Despite losing two lottery picks, the returning core of – Nick Ward, Joshua Lanford, Matt McQuaid and Cassius Winston – looks like it could be the best there is within the conference. Will it help them get to the sweet 16 is another matter.
Michigan is the national runners-up, and they should be able to ride a strong defense again. But the Wolverines will definitely need someone to step up offensively after losing three of their four top scorers.
After making a strong push for the tournament with a surprising 13-5 league mark, the Huskers bring back a substantial core, led by James Palmer Jr.
Romeo Langford will get all the headlines, and with good reason. But we shouldn’t be so quick to overlook the return of Juwan Morgan. He might surprise you.
The young Badgers started to come into their own towards the end of last season and they’ve returned almost everyone of note – including Big Ten player of the year candidate, Ethan Happ.
Kevin Huerter’s decision to join Justin Jackson in leaving early lowered this team’s ceiling, but the performance of the Big Ten’s top recruiting class could bring it back up again.
Will the Big Ten conference title race be an all-Michigan battle? There’s a good chance that the answer to this is no. While the Spartans and Wolverines are leading in terms of summer power rankings, they could very well finish at number 1 and 2. That said, there is a strong possibility that they will get pushed back by as many as three or four other teams. Michigan State feels like the most secure pick as the preseason favorite, with a strong batch of returners and three top-100 recruits on the way (the highest of which is No. 62), and Michigan also adds three top-100 recruits (the highest of which is No. 67) to a group that includes Charles Matthews, Zavier Simpson, Jordan Poole and Jon Teske.
Another burning question is whether or not the Big Ten will be more balanced this year? The Big Ten had a pretty distinct tier system last season: Michigan State and Purdue were the league’s cream of the crop for most of the year, with Ohio State and Michigan eventually working their way into that top group. The conference sent only four teams to the NCAA tournament (its fewest since 2007–08, when it had only 11 total teams), but all four were No. 5 seeds or better. That fact illustrates the gap that existed in the conference, but it seems likely that the Big Ten will be more balanced next season.