The Big Ten will experience a changing of the guard in 2016-17.
A league that has supplied college basketball with standout veterans over recent years is losing several of them — Michigan State loses Denzel Valentine, Indiana loses Yogi Ferrell, Iowa loses Jarrod Uthoff, Purdue loses A.J. Hammons. Maryland retained its post important veteran, point guard Melo Trimble, but most of his supporting cast entered the draft.
All that turnover perhaps gives Wisconsin the greatest advantage. The Badgers return every key player from a team that regrouped under new coach Greg Gard to go 12–6 in Big Ten play. Meanwhile, teams like Michigan State, Indiana and Purdue will look for role players and secondary scorers to take the next step.
Although the Big Ten’s best national championship threat, Michigan State, lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Middle Tennessee last season, three Big Ten teams reached the Sweet 16 last year. For the Big Ten to put up similar results, several teams will need to grow up in a hurry.
All Big Ten predictions and a full preview of each team in the conference can be found in the Athlon Sports 2016-17 Preview Magazine, available in our online store and on newsstands everywhere.
Big Ten Superlatives
Player of the Year: Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin
Best Defensive Player: Ethan Happ, Wisconsin
Most Underrated Player: Jae’Sean Tate, Ohio State
Top Newcomer: Miles Bridges, Michigan State
First-Team All-Big Ten
G Melo Trimble, Maryland
G Bronson Koenig, Wisconsin
G Malcolm Hill, Illinois
F Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin
C Thomas Bryant, Indiana
Second-Team All-Big Ten
G Bryant McIntosh, Iowa
G Peter Jok, Iowa
F Jae’Sean Tate, Wisconsin
F Caleb Swanigan, Purdue
C Ethan Happ, Wisconsin
Third-Team All-Big Ten
G Derrick Walton, Michigan
G Eron Harris, Michigan State
G James Blackmon, Indiana
F Miles Bridges, Michigan State
F Vince Edwards, Purdue
1. Michigan State: The Spartans have a scary incoming class, with all four signees ranked in the top 50. Only Duke and Kentucky had higher-rated classes.
2. Maryland: Three of the five signees are in the top 75, led by the No. 6 power forward Justin Jackson.
3. Penn State: Three of the four signees went to the same Philadelphia high school; two of them are 4-stars in the Top 100.
4. Minnesota: Four-star forward Amir Coffey is an impressive get for a program that won only two conference games in ’15-16.
5. Indiana: De’Ron Davis is Scout’s No. 44 recruit and leads Indiana’s class as an athletic and skilled big man.
6. Nebraska: Center Jordy Tshimanga and small forward Isaiah Roby are two four-start talents who will make an impact.
7. Michigan: The Wolverines get both skill and size in signing point guard Xavier Simpson and a pair of three-star centers.
8. Ohio State: Derek Funderburk is a menacing power forward on the fast break and headlines a towering freshman class.
9. Iowa: A five-recruit class features four-star power forward Tyler Cook, an explosive athlete and excellent rebounder.
10. Northwestern: The Wildcats snagged a mismatch nightmare in Rapolas Ivanauskas, who can play at the 3 or 4.
11. Illinois: Lone commit Te’Jon Lucas will see significant time at the point as a freshman.
12. Wisconsin: The Badgers added to their depth with a pair of three-stars from IMG Academy in Florida — D’Mitrick Trice and Aleem Ford.
13. Purdue: Three-star point guard Carsen Edwards will likely be in the backcourt mix right away.
14. Rutgers: Two-star New Jersey native Matt Bullock looks to revitalize a team coming off just one conference win.