Rising Terrapins leads the Year of the Comeback in the Big Ten
The theme of this season in the Big Ten could be the Year of the Comeback team.
Maryland, our pick to win the conference and contend for a spot in the Final Four, is the most obvious pick to be a comeback team. The Terrapins will enjoy their highest preseason rankings since the 2002 national championship. Yet the Terrapins won 27 games last season. This is more of an ascent than a true comeback.
The comeback teams in the Big Ten include Purdue and Indiana. Both snuck into the NCAA Tournament as bubble teams and bowed out early. Now, the Boilermakers and Hoosiers expect to spend most of this season in the top 25.
The home for the biggest comeback may be in Ann Arbor. Michigan’s season fell apart after injuries to Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton. With those two healthy, the Wolverines expect to make a push for the league title.
All Big Ten predictions and a full preview of each team in the conference can be found in the Athlon Sports 2015-16 Preview Magazine, available online and on newsstands everywhere.
Podcast: Who should be No. 1 in College Basketball in 2015-16?
|2015-16 Big Ten Predictions|
|1.||Add the league’s best freshman (Diamond Stone) and best transfer (Rasheed Sulaimon) to its best player (Melo Trimble) and you have the league’s best team. Postseason: Final Four||Team Preview|
|2.||Tom Izzo has Final Four momentum, three starters, West Virginia transfer Eron Harris and McDonald’s All-American Deyonta Davis. Postseason: Sweet 16||Team Preview|
|3.||The Boilermakers went 9–3 down the stretch in the league — and return four starters plus McDonald’s All-American Caleb Swanigan. Postseason: Sweet 16||Team Preview|
The Hoosiers led the league in scoring and were last in points allowed. Guess which number must improve? Postseason: Second round
Bo Ryan has never finished outside the top four in the Big Ten, but he has never lost two first-round picks and three more seniors in one season before. Postseason: Second round
Injuries toppled the Wolverines last season, but Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton are healthy again Postseason: Second round
You win with seniors. The Hawkeyes have three good ones – Jarrod Uthoff, Mike Gesell and Adam Woodbury. Postseason: First round
Thad Matta welcomes a top-10 recruiting class, and he’ll need it after losing D’Angelo Russell, two senior starters and all of his interior size. Postseason: NIT
Keep an eye on the Wildcats. Chris Collins keeps adding talent — and Tre Demps can shoot them to a victory any night. Postseason: NIT
|10.||Tracy Abrams’ Achilles injury was a big setback, but the Illini still have a solid collection of perimeter players led by Malcolm Hill and Kendrick Nunn. Postseason: NIT|
The Nittany Lions built momentum by winning two Big Ten Tournament games, but D.J. Newbill is a huge loss.
The Gophers add a sub-par recruiting class to a team that lost a dozen Big Ten games and its top two players.
The Cornhuskers underachieved last winter and lost their star power when Terran Petteway went pro.
|14.||The story never changes in Piscataway: The Scarlet Knights do not have enough talent or experience.|
Big Ten Superlatives
Player of the Year: Melo Trimble, Maryland
Best Defensive Player: Denzel Valentine, Michigan State
Most Underrated: Jarrod Uthoff, Iowa
Newcomer of the Year: Diamond Stone, Maryland
Top Coach: Tom Izzo, Michigan State (full list)
Coach on the Hot Seat: John Groce, Illinois (full list)
Teams in the national top 25: No. 4 Maryland, No. 12 Michigan State, No. 15 Purdue, No. 17 Indiana, No. 19 Wisconsin, No. 22 Michigan
All-Big Ten First Team
G Yogi Ferrell, Indiana
G Melo Trimble, Maryland
G Caris LeVert, Michigan
F Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin
C A.J. Hammons, Purdue
All-Big Ten Second Team
G Bronson Koenig
G Denzel Valentine, Michigan State
F Jake Layman, Maryland
F Jarrod Uthoff, Iowa
C Diamond Stone, Maryland
All-Big Ten Third Team
G Derrick Walton, Michigan
G Bryant McIntosh, Northwestern
G Eron Harris, Michigan State
F Troy Williams, Indiana
F Caleb Swanigan, Michigan State
1. Ohio State: Five four-star prospects provide Thad Matta with a top-10 class.
2. Illinois: A trio of four-star perimeter players highlight this top-20 class.
3. Michigan State: McDonald’s All-American Deyonta Davis and sharpshooter Matthew McQuaid lead a top-20 class.
4. Indiana: IU’s class has one of the top post players in the 2015 class in Thomas Bryant.
5. Nebraska: The Huskers have big expectations for Glynn Watson and Ed Morrow.
6. Purdue: Matt Painter salvaged a top-40 recruiting class with the late pickup of McDonald’s All-American Caleb Swanigan.
7. Maryland: Mark Turgeon won an enormous recruiting battle to secure the services of top-10 big man Diamond Stone.
8. Penn State: Four-star prospects Josh Reaves and Mike Watkins are expected to contribute immediately for the Nittany Lions.
9. Rutgers: Athletic four-star point guard Corey Sanders headlines Rutgers’ class, which is ranked in the top 50 nationally.
10. Wisconsin: The Badgers’ class is led by dynamic scoring guard Brevin Pritzl.
11. Minnesota: The Gophers’ class is a deep, perimeter-oriented group that is led by four-star Kevin Dorsey.
12. Northwestern: Four-star forward Aaron Falzon is one of the top shooters in the class.
13. Iowa: Wing Brandon Hutton is the top recruit out of six future Hawkeyes.
14. Michigan: John Beilein’s only recruit is highly regarded Moritz Wagner of Germany.