Welcome back to the start of the College Basketball season. Such a glorious time for all basketball fans to come together and watch some great athletes compete every night. Unless, unfortunately, you are a Big Ten fan.
This year, the projections for the Big Ten aren’t too good and I buy it. The conference only has 3 teams in the top 25 with only 1 making the top 15. The AP Top 25 has Michigan State ranked 10th, Michigan 19th, and Purdue 24th. Indiana, Nebraska, Maryland, and Wisconsin all received votes, but not enough to put them in for the preseason rankings.
So, what does this mean? In general, the top of the Big Ten will not be able to compete with the top of other conferences. There will be some major victories still picked up here and there, but the bluebloods of the ACC, SEC, and Big 12 just have more talent on their roster this year. The middle of the conference, especially Wisconsin and Nebraska, should be decent enough to have a couple teams make the tournament. Then, the bottom of the Big Ten is as bad as any other conference.
Without further ado, here are my rankings for the 2018-19 season for the Big Ten followed by a fun explanation:
- Michigan State Spartans: Based off of talent alone, the Spartans are the universal favorite to win the conference.
- Michigan Wolverines: Losing Mo Wagner’s energy will hurt the former national championship runner-up, but Beilein will keep them toward the top.
- Indiana Hoosiers: The Juwan Morgan/Romeo Langford combo competes with Luke Maye and Nassir Little for the best senior/freshman duo in the nation.
- Purdue Boilermakers: Fun fact: I got crossed over by Nojel Eastern in 7th grade. Not sure if that’s something to brag about or not but it happened.
- Nebraska Cornhuskers: The Cornhuskers have the trio of Jr.’s (Palmer, Copeland, and Watson) all back this year, meaning their top three scorers are determined to accomplish more before leaving.
- Ohio State Buckeyes: No Keita Bates-Diop this year, but Holtmann is too good of a coach to drop back too much.
- Wisconsin Badgers: This season all relies on the productivity of weirdly-effective Ethan Happ.
- Maryland Terrapins: Loss of Huerter hurts them more they think, as they end up on the bubble come March.
- Iowa Hawkeyes: Jordan Bohannon returns this year, which means more yelling at your TV when he makes a deep, contested 3 against your team.
- Minnesota Golden Gophers: Sorry Richard, but Rick is by far my favorite Pitino especially after listening a portion of his podcast.
- Illinois Fighting Illini: Good thing: they didn’t lose too many valuable players. Bad thing: there wasn’t much to lose.
- Northwestern Wildcats: The newly renovated Welsh-Ryan Arena will attract a crowd early in the season, but the team might lose it by the end.
- Penn State Nittany Lions: Loss of last year’s leader Tony Carr on and off the court will be too much to overcome.
- Rutgers Scarlet Knights: Did you really expect anyone else to take the last spot?