Plenty has changed in the Big Ten since May when we published our initial power rankings for the 2016-2017 season. Some rosters have changed and we’ve also learned the conference schedule, which is a significant factor given the league’s expansion.
With that in mind, here’s our updated forecast for next season’s conference standings with last season’s records in parenthesis:
14. Rutgers (7-25, 14th place)
· Returning: Corey Sanders, Mike Williams, Deshawn Freeman, Jonathan Laurent, Ibrahima Diallo, Shaquille Dorson, Nigel Johnson (Kansas State transfer becomes eligible)
· Arriving: Issa Thiam, Matt Bullock, Candido Sa, Eugene Omoruyi
· Departing: Bishop Daniels (graduation), Jalen Hyde (graduation), Omari Grier (graduation), Greg Lewis (graduation), D.J. Foreman (transfer), Justin Goode (transfer)
Outlook: Sorry Scarlet Knight fans. We’re still predicting a last place finish for the Big Ten team that resides in Piscataway. Rutgers should be a better team this season (how could they be much worse?), but it won’t be enough to escape the Big Ten cellar.
13. Minnesota (8-23, 13th place)
· Returning: Nate Mason, Jordan Murphy, Dupree McBryer, Ahmad Gilbert, Bakary Konate, Stephon Sharp, Gaston Diedhiou, Davonte Fitzgerald (Texas A&M transfer becomes eligible), Reggie Lynch (Illinois State transfer becomes eligible)
· Arriving: Amir Coffey (247Composite top 100), Eric Curry, Michael Hurt, Akeem Springs (graduate transfer from Milwaukee)
· Departing: Joey King (graduation), Kevin Dorsey (transfer), Carlos Morris (dismissed/graduation), Charles Buggs (transfer)
Outlook: Minnesota has some talent – mainly Mason and Murphy – and also welcomes a very solid recruit in Coffey. Still, the Gophers were awful offensively last season, which is going to have to change to avoid playing on Wednesday of the Big Ten tournament.
12. Nebraska (16-18, 11th place)
· Returning: Tai Webster, Glynn Watson, Jack McVeigh, Ed Morrow, Nick Fuller, Michael Jacobson, Anton Gill (Louisville transfer becomes eligible), Malcolm Laws
· Arriving: Isaiah Roby, Jeriah Horne, Jordy Tshimanga, James Palmer (Miami transfer, must sit out), Evan Taylor
· Departing: Shavon Shields (graduation), Jake Hammond (transfer), Johnny Trueblood (transfer), Benny Parker (graduation), Bakari Evelyn (transfer), Andrew White (transfer)
Outlook: We were bullish on Nebraska back in May, predicting the Huskers to finish eighth in the Big Ten. But that was with Andrew White on the roster. Now that he’s at Syracuse, look for Nebraska to take a step back this season.
11. Illinois (15-19, 12th place tie)
· Returning: Malcolm Hill, Aaron Jordan, Tracy Abrams (granted medical hardship waiver), D.J. Williams, Jalen Coleman-Lands, Leron Black (suspended for six games), Jaylon Tate, Maverick Morgan, Michael Finke, Mike Thorne (granted medical hardship waiver), Alex Austin, Kipper Nichols (Tulane transfer becomes eligible)
· Arriving: Te’Jon Lucas
· Departing: Kendrick Nunn (dismissed), Khalid Lewis (graduation), Mike LaTulip (transfer)
Outlook: There is enough talent the Illinois roster to finish much higher than this. But the schedule is difficult (double plays with Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan and Northwestern) and a lot of personnel questions. Can Abrams and Thorne stay healthy? Can Black stay out of trouble? And will Coleman-Lands take a step forward as a sophomore?
10. Iowa (22-11, 3rd place tie, NCAA tournament round of 32)
· Returning: Peter Jok, Ahmad Wagner, Nicolas Baer, Dom Uhl, Brady Ellingson, Christian Williams, Isaiah Moss, Dale Jones
· Arriving: Tyler Cook (247Composite top 100), Cordell Pemsl, Ryan Kriener, Jordan Bohannon, Maishe Dailey
· Departing: Brandon Hutton (transfer), Andrew Fleming (transfer), Jarrod Uthoff (graduation), Mike Gesell (graduation), Anthony Clemmons (graduation), Adam Woodbury (graduation)
Outlook: Our last impression of Iowa from last season wasn’t favorable. The Hawkeyes completely fell apart down the stretch. Now the program enters what appears to be a rebuilding season with Jok and a cast of others who are largely unproven.
9. Northwestern (20-12, 9th place)
· Returning: Bryant McIntosh, Nathan Taphorn, Scottie Lindsey, Vic Law, Dererk Pardon, Gavin Skelly, Jordan Ash, Sanjay Lumpkin, Aaron Falzon
· Arriving: Rapolas Ivanauskas, Barret Benson, Isiah Brown
· Departing: Alex Olah (graduation), Tre Demps (graduation), Joey Van Zegeren (graduation), Johnnie Vassar (transfer)
Outlook: Demps and Olah are significant losses, but Law is a breakout candidate and Falzon and Pardon should both be improved as sophomores. Still, Northwestern is probably a year away from a major leap.
8. Penn State (16-16, 10th place)
· Returning: Shep Garner, Josh Reaves, Payton Banks, Isaiah Washington, Julian Moore, Deividas Zemgulis, Mike Watkins, Terrence Samuel (Connecticut transfer becomes eligible)
· Arriving: Tony Carr (247Composite top 100), Lamar Stevens (247Composite top 100), Nazeer Bostick, Joe Hampton, Satchel Pierce (Virginia Tech transfer, must sit out)
· Departing: Brandon Taylor (graduation), Donovan Jack (graduation), Devin Foster (graduation), Jordan Dickerson (graduation)
Outlook: Buy now on a move up the standings for Penn State. The Nittany Lions added a legitimate freshman class that includes two top 100 players. And the schedule is favorable with double plays against Rutgers, Minnesota and Illinois.
7. Ohio State (21-14, 7th place, NIT second round)
· Returning: Keita Bates-Diop, Jae’Sean Tate, Kam Williams, JaQuan Lyle, Marc Loving, David Bell, Trevor Thompson
· Arriving: Derek Funderburk (247Composite top 100), Micah Potter, Andre Wesson, C.J. Jackson
· Departing: A.J. Harris (transfer), Daniel Giddens (transfer), Mickey Mitchell (transfer), Austin Grandstaff (transfer)
Outlook: The Buckeyes have talent, but their depth is thin and the schedule is not easy with two games against Wisconsin, Michigan State and Maryland.
6. Michigan (23-13, 8th place, NCAA tournament round of 64)
· Returning: Derrick Walton, Zak Irvin, Mark Donnal, Duncan Robinson, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Moritz Wagner, D.J. Wilson
· Arriving: Xavier Simpson (247Composite top 100), Jon Teske, Ibi Watson, Austin Davis
· Departing: Caris LeVert (graduation), Aubrey Dawkins (transfer), Ricky Doyle (transfer), Spike Albrecht (transfer), Kameron Chatman (transfer)
Outlook: We ranked Michigan’s Big Ten schedule as the toughest in the league and that’s reflected in this ranking. Simply put, the Wolverines caught no breaks with their league schedule that includes double plays with Michigan State, Wisconsin and Indiana.
5. Purdue (26-9, 3rd place tie, NCAA tournament round of 64)
· Returning: Isaac Haas, Vincent Edwards, Caleb Swanigan, Dakota Mathias, Ryan Cline, P.J. Thompson, Jacquil Taylor, Basil Smotherman
· Arriving: Carsen Edwards, Spike Albrecht (graduate transfer from Michigan)
· Departing: A.J. Hammons (graduation), Rapheal Davis (graduation), Grant Weatherford (transfer), Kendall Stephens (transfer), Johnny Hill (graduation)
Outlook: Purdue fans will view this as a slap in the face, but this placement is very much schedule driven. The Boilermakers play IU and Michigan State twice and have three difficult single play road games in Maryland, Michigan and Ohio State.
4. Maryland (27-9, 3rd place tie, NCAA Sweet Sixteen)
· Returning: Melo Trimble, Jared Nickens, Dion Wiley, Jaylen Brantley, Michael Cekovsky, Damonte Dodd, Ivan Bender
· Arriving: Micah Thomas, Anthony Cowan (247Composite top 100), Kevin Huerter (247Composite top 100), L.G. Gill (graduate transfer from Duquesne), Justin Jackson (247Composite top 100), Joshua Tomaic
· Departing: Jake Layman (graduation), Varun Rum (graduation), Rasheed Sulaimon (graduation), Diamond Stone (NBA early entry), Robert Carter (NBA early entry)
Outlook: The Terps will be talented and the schedule is more than favorable. Consider this: Maryland doesn’t have to play Indiana, Michigan State or Purdue on the road. And it will play Rutgers and Minnesota twice.
3. Indiana (27-8, Big Ten champion, NCAA Sweet Sixteen)
· Returning: Thomas Bryant, James Blackmon Jr., Robert Johnson, OG Anunoby, Juwan Morgan, Collin Hartman, Josh Newkirk (Pittsburgh transfer becomes eligible), Tim Priller
· Arriving: De’Ron Davis (247Composite top 100), Curtis Jones (247Composite top 100), Devonte Green, Grant Gelon, Freddie McSwain
· Departing: Yogi Ferrell (graduation), Max Bielfeldt (graduation), Nick Zeisloft (graduation), Ryan Burton (graduation), Harrison Niego (transfer), Troy Williams (NBA early entry)
Outlook: The Hoosiers are a threat to repeat as Big Ten champions, but also have the difficult task of replacing Ferrell. The frontcourt will be strong and the backcourt is talented, but it’s never easy replacing a player as important as Yogi.
2. Michigan State (29-6, 2nd place, NCAA tournament round of 64)
· Returning: Eron Harris, Matt McQuaid, Gavin Schilling, Alvin Ellis, Lourawls Nairn, Kenny Goins, Kyle Ahrens
· Arriving: Miles Bridges (247Composite top 100), Cassius Winston (247Composite top 100), Josh Langford (247Composite top 100), Nick Ward (247Composite top 100), Ben Carter (graduate transfer from UNLV)
· Departing: Denzel Valentine (graduation), Bryn Forbes (graduation), Matt Costello (graduation), Colby Wollenman (graduation), Javon Bess (transfer), Marvin Clark Jr. (transfer), Deyonta Davis (NBA early entry)
Outlook: The Spartans have a solid mix of veterans and elite young talent, which should put them right back into the mix for the Big Ten title. The non-conference schedule for Michigan State is brutal, but expect it to pay dividends come conference play.
1.Wisconsin (22-13, 3rd place tie, NCAA Sweet Sixteen)
· Returning: Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig, Ethan Happ, Zak Showalter, Vitto Brown, Brevin Pritzl, Charlie Thomas, Jordan Hill, Alex Illikainen, Khalil Iverson, Andy Van Vliet
· Arriving: Aleem Ford, D’Mitrik Trice
· Departing: Riley Dearring (transfer), Jordan Smith (graduation)
Outlook: The Badgers return every notable player from a group that advanced to the Sweet Sixteen last season. And the schedule is the most favorable of our projected top three, which will matter in a conference race that should be hotly contested.
Filed to: Big Ten Power Rankings