A closer look at Big Ten predictions for the 2014-2015 season

  • 10/07/2014 12:44 pm in

Practice is underway across the country, Big Ten media day is next week in Chicago and we’re less than a month away from the season’s first exhibition games, which means it is time for a closer look at expectations for the conference at-large and more specifically, Indiana.

We’ve given you a rundown of the preseason projections from all of the major preseason magazines, including Athlon Sports, Blue Ribbon, Lindy’s Sports and The Sporting News.

But as we’ve done in the past and to provide a better snapshot of how the league is being viewed nationally, we’ve combined the projections from those four magazines with ESPN Insider’s picks as well as those of Dan Hanner of RealGM.com. (Note: Hanner’s picks are included because they are backed up by his model’s numeric projections. While those haven’t been released yet for the Big Ten, he confirmed to us that the order the teams are listed in his write up are indeed his projections for the order in which the league will shake out.)

Here’s a look at all six sets of projections along with a seventh column that includes the order of finish if you average them out:


It’s no surprise that Wisconsin is the overwhelming and consensus favorite to win the conference as the Badgers return nearly everyone from last year’s group that reached the Final Four.

What is a bit surprising, however, is that there is a somewhat clear No. 2 pick in the league in Ohio State. The Buckeyes were picked second in four of the six projections and no lower than fourth, earning them a pretty comfortable position in the composite projections. In his league preview, Hanner brought up a pretty interesting point on Ohio State’s offense and how it could be poised for a bounce-back season:

Let me make a statement that may seem controversial: Ohio St.’s offense will be substantially better in 2014-15. I understand why people expect the Buckeyes to fall off the map. They weren’t a very good offensive team last year, and they lose three key scorers from last year’s team. But I think people are massively under-estimating this year’s team. Thad Matta is a great offensive coach. Since 2007, his offenses have ranked 3rd, 63rd, 30th, 8th, 1st, 5th, and 11th in the nation, before the offense was 128th last season. Last season looks like a tremendous fluke.

After Ohio State, the next three teams were all close. Michigan State, Nebraska and Michigan had minimal separation when averaging all six projections. There was a bit of a dropoff to the next tier, which includes, in order: Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Maryland and then Indiana.

The interesting thing about all of these teams is that they all have major questions to answer, which can also be said for Ohio State:

· Michigan State lacks a legitimate star and go-to scorer.
· Nebraska is playing with expectations, which is quite different than playing when being projected to finish last in the league.
· Michigan lost three NBA draft picks and will be relying on two freshmen in the post.
· Iowa lost its leading scorer and collapsed down the stretch last season.
· Illinois just lost its point guard for the season and its best scorer is average from an efficiency standpoint.
· Minnesota didn’t really upgrade its roster in any major way and it’s fair to ask if that’s going to be enough to do more than a NIT bid.
· Maryland had massive offseason turnover and will be relying on a lot of freshmen in key roles.
· Indiana will be relying on several unproven players in its frontcourt.

All of these questions and story lines are what makes the Big Ten one of the country’s more intriguing leagues. And it’s also what makes Indiana a candidate to outperform its expectations if a few things break the right way.

After that tier of teams, there’s another significant drop to the final four teams in the conference: Penn State, Northwestern, Purdue and Rutgers, the consensus pick to finish last.

From top to bottom, the Big Ten doesn’t appear to be as strong as the past few years, but it does appear to have as many as ten teams who are capable of reaching the NCAA tournament, a legitimate national title contender and teams at the bottom who will be capable of playing the role of spoiler.

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  • INUnivHoosier

    I think a lot of people (besides the ones who have already responded) will take this in a way that I don’t believe you intended it. I think you are spot on, for what it’s worth.

  • Joe Pop

    troy could be on the all big ten teams no doubt, but he still has a long way to go– shooting, defense, and ballhandling were suspect last year. His dunks and rebounding were great though. If he puts it all together he could be there, just think its going to be as a junior not a sophmore.

  • Crazy Chester

    Do you honestly believe IU has a snowball’s chance is heck to make the Sweet 16 this year? On paper we don’t look any better than last year, and we didn’t even make the NIT. The national media is picking us to come in 10th… in our own conference. You really think we are going to be one of the last 16 teams standing in the whole country? Honest question, not trying to flame you.

  • Bryce Kepner

    The best will play and the best will stay!

  • VAHoosier

    I agree the “chemistry” issue is the biggest variable this year. I think the assumption that we’ll be a better team is founded on the fact that we have better-than-competent guards this year who really seem to like one another. More importantly, the little we saw from the Canada trip bodes well; they appeared to be moving the ball much better. I’ll say it again: unlike last year, I think this year’s team will be at least as good as the sum of its parts.

  • Michael Crawley

    I don’t miss a game and I am a huge IU fan and Alum! But I am a realist the IU Admin did nothing when the program went down to tubes! We are just now getting our respect back but we are not where we should be. Calling me not a Fan is silly. I have read many of your posts. Any program that goes through what we did is going to take longer than 5 years to recover! Is it frustrating yes but we were a mess and it has been only three years to where we are starting to compete again. The first two years of CTC tenure was getting us out of the hole. We do have tradition and we are coming back.

  • Outoftheloop

    Absolutely! Indiana should have 3 All-B1G first or second team players in Yogi, Troy and James; the Freshman of the Year in the B1G in James; the Most Improved player in the B1G in Hanner; plus Stan, Devin and Robert will be established as B1G players this season. In addition, Indiana should be strong to 12 players deep (and 13 if Collin gets better). Coach them up and just win Baby!

  • cooper

    In a down year we are projected 10th. Ladies and Gents your 2014-15 Hoosiers. Time for a new AD and coach if that happens

  • Guyton25

    CTC had very little to do with Zeller getting 1157 points. He recruited him and the rest was expected out of a Zeller. He didn’t shape him into being more aggressive and didn’t do much for remedying any of his flaws.

    You can’t sign a top 10 recruit and then chalk it up to good coaching when the player succeeds. I don’t think CTC is a bad big man coach, but he’s certainty better with the back-court.

  • Crazy Chester

    Ok, it looks like you are making a Christmas wish list, not a realistic prediction. HMP most improved player? What on earth do you base that on? He averages like 2.5 points a game.
    The reality is we have two really good guards, three decent wings, and two below average post players. That is a decent seven man rotation at best, and one injury away from things getting very bad, very quickly. I don’t know where you are getting “12 deep” from, the rest of our line up is not serviceable outside of garbage minutes, or a quick substitution to get one of those seven a breather.

  • Outoftheloop

    Crazy, you just don’t know much about major college basketball talent: 1) we have four very highly talented guards; Yogi, James, Robert, and Stan, plus a 5th that is good, Nick; 2) Hanner played few minutes last season, 224, and so produced little in actual rebounds and points. But he shot .575% on FG and .723% on FT. So if you take last year’s stats for 20 minutes/game that would be 5.5 rebounds and 7 points/game. If he “improves” (and most of us believe that he can not play as poorly as he did last season this season), he could be a 10/10 Big this season for IU, and that would win the most improved player award! 3) Troy is not “decent” he is “gifted” and ready to explode this season; 4) Hanner is unproven as a Big but highly talented, Jeremiah is totally unknown for the college game but his HS stats are impressive, but he is 7’0: 5) Devin was not given the minutes that he deserved last season and he was forced by the Coach to guard much bigger and stronger players. But, like Hanner, he shot well, .529% FG, .677 FT, and at 20 minutes/game would have had 5.8 rebounds and 5.5 points/game last season, We all saw how much better he is playing this season over last in the Canadian trip; 6) Emmitt is a freshman, but he sounds like he will challenge Devin right now for minutes as a PF. His HS stats were great; 7) Max is an athlete with great shot making potential; 8) Tim is totally unique with great height, 6’9, and great 3-point shooting. Count them: 5 + 1 + 2 + 2 + 2 = 12!

  • Crazy Chester

    Most people who honestly assess our team know that we only have two players who qualify as “major college basketball talent.” Then we have a few good players, and the rest are not good. That is why you are forced to say things like:

    “If he improves”
    “ready to explode”
    “highly talented” … based on what? HMP has been awful.
    “HS stats are impressive”
    “sounds like he will challenge”
    “HS stats were great”
    “great shot making potential”
    “totally unique”

    All code for “I hope, I hope, I hope… .”
    I am not saying we wont be improved in some areas (shooting) or worse in other areas (post play). I am saying that overall I don’t see a material talent increase from last year. We traded one five star for another, lost Will, gained RJ, and everything else seems to be a wash.

  • inadvertentelbows_stillhurt

    didn’t consider it an example…so I held my “mule”

  • dwdkc

    Yes, good point on chemistry, how do we know? Yet the very limited glimpse from Canada was encouraging, and what the hell we are fans so making up reasons to be good is what we do. I don’t think “creaning” is an issue. It hasn’t seemed to hurt recruiting, and it is a fact of life with almost all major programs now. You give people a chance, if it isn’t going to work out you help them go somewhere else that will work better for them.


    If you are being serious, I seriously think you might want to rethink and research that a little bit.


    Dream or sleep deprived imagining ? It would take a pretty severe case of either one to see that, but then again some have picked us to finish last or next to last in our conference, both pretty ridiculous at this point. IMHO

  • Trevor Howenstine

    ok, a bit of an exaggeration.