Big Ten Power Rankings: Offseason edition
Big Ten rosters for the 2021-22 season are mostly set, so it’s time for an early look at how the league hierarchy may shake out next season.
Here are our first set of Big Ten power rankings for the 2021-22 season:
14. Minnesota (14-15 last season)
What we like: The Gophers decided to make a coaching change after finally coming to the realization that Richard Pitino had reached his ceiling in Minneapolis. Pitino made the NCAA tournament just twice in eight seasons, which is longer than most Big Ten programs would have given him as head coach.
What we don’t like: Minnesota’s roster was gutted by transfers and the replacements are all from the mid-major level (or lower). It’s going to be a long first season for first-year head coach Ben Johnson.
Projected to return: Isaiah Ihnen, Eric Curry
Arriving: Jamison Battle (from George Washington), Luke Loewe (from William & Mary), E.J. Stephens (from Lafayette), Sean Sutherlin (from New Hampshire), Treyton Thompson, Payton Willis (from College of Charleston), Parker Fox (from Northern State), Abdoulaye Thiam, Charlie Daniels (from Stephen F. Austin), Daniel Ogele (from Mercyhurst)
13. Northwestern (9-15 last season)
What we like: Chris Collins is returning several notable contributors in Boo Buie, Chase Audige, and Pete Nance, all of whom are upperclassmen.
What we don’t like: Northwestern lost 13 straight games at one point last season and didn’t upgrade its roster in any significant way this offseason.
Projected to return: Boo Buie, Chase Audige, Ryan Greer, Ty Berry, Ryan Young, Pete Nance, Robbie Beran, Matt Nicholson
Arriving: Brooks Barnhizer, Casey Simmons, Julian Roper, Elyjah Williams (from Farleigh Dickinson)
12. Penn State (11-14 last season)
What we like: Micah Shrewsberry, who worked under Brad Stevens and Matt Painter, paid his dues as an assistant coach in both college basketball and the NBA and should eventually have the Nittany Lions into the middle of the pack of the league.
What we don’t like: Penn State’s talent level is still near the bottom of the league and it lost its best player in Myreon Jones, who transferred to Florida.
Projected to return: Sam Sessoms, Myles Dread, Seth Lundy, John Harrar, Caleb Dorsey, Dallion Johnson, Kyle McCloskey
Arriving: Jalen Pickett (from Siena), Jaheam Cornwall (from Gardner-Webb), Jevonnie Scott, Greg Lee (from Western Michigan), Jelanni White (from Canisius)
11. Nebraska (7-20 last season)
What we like: Fred Hoiberg again retooled his roster in Lincoln and added a five-star player in Bryce McGowens and several transfers who should be able to make an impact.
What we don’t like: Turning over for the roster for a third straight season isn’t conducive to winning in a league that values experience and continuity.
Projected to return: Trey McGowens, Kobe Webster, Lat Mayen, Derrick Walker, Trevor Lakes
Arriving: C.J. Wilcher (from Xavier), Bryce McGowens (247Composite 5-star), Wilhelm Breidenbach (247Composite top 100), Keisei Tominaga, Oleg Kojenets, Keon Edwards (from DePaul), Quaran McPherson, Alonzo Verge (from Arizona State)
10. Wisconsin (18-13 last season)
What we like: Brad Davison opted to return for a fifth season in Madison and Jordan Davis should be one of the league’s best sophomores.
What we don’t like: The rest of the starting lineup is gone and there are serious questions about Greg Gard’s ability to lead a program after a tumultuous offseason.
Projected to return: Brad Davison, Jonathan Davis, Tyler Wahl, Ben Carlson, Steven Crowl, Jordan Davis, Lorne Bowman
Arriving: Isaac Lindsey (from UNLV), Chucky Hepburn, Matthew Mors, Chris Hodges, Markus Ilver, Jahcobi Neath (from Wake Forest), Chris Vogt (from Cincinnati)
9. Iowa (22-9 last season)
What we like: Keegan Murray is a clear breakout candidate and Jordan Bohannon, if healthy, is one of the league’s better point guards.
What we don’t like: Iowa’s two best players from last season – Luka Garza and Joe Wieskamp – are now in the NBA. And the Hawkeyes still don’t play defense.
Projected to return: Joe Toussaint, Keegan Murray, Patrick McCaffery, Connor McCaffery, Tony Perkins, Ahron Ulis, Kris Murray, Josh Ogundele, Jordan Bohannon, Austin Ash
Arriving: Payton Sandfort, Riley Mulvey, Filip Rebraca (from North Dakota)
8. Indiana (12-15 last season)
What we like: Indiana finally decided that mediocrity under Archie Miller wouldn’t be tolerated and moved on after he whiffed on making the NCAA tournament once again. Trayce Jackson-Davis, one of the Big Ten’s best players, opted to return to IU to play under new coach Mike Woodson.
What we don’t like: Beyond Jackson-Davis, there are a lot of question marks on IU’s roster. Will the Hoosiers be able to shoot from the perimeter? Can IU make free throws? Is the guard play good enough?
Projected to return: Trayce Jackson-Davis, Race Thompson, Rob Phinisee, Jordan Geronimo, Trey Galloway, Anthony Leal, Khristian Lander, Parker Stewart
Arriving: Xavier Johnson (from Pittsburgh), Logan Duncomb (247Composite top 100), Tamar Bates (247Composite 5-star), Miller Kopp (from Northwestern), Michael Durr (from South Florida)
7. Rutgers (16-12 last season)
What we like: Geo Baker and Ron Harper Jr. are back after leading the Scarlet Knights to the NCAA tournament’s round of 32 last season. Cliff Omoruyi has the talent to make a significant leap forward as a sophomore.
What we don’t like: Losing the rim protection of Myles Johnson hurts and Rutgers will likely take a step back defensively due to his transfer to UCLA.
Projected to return: Geo Baker, Ron Harper Jr., Caleb McConnell, Paul Mulcahy, Cliff Omoruyi, Jaden Jones, Dean Reiber, Mawot Mag, Oskar Palmquist
Arriving: Jalen Miller, Aundre Hyatt (from LSU), Ralph Agee (from San Jose State)
6. Michigan State (15-13 last season)
What we like: Tom Izzo didn’t have a very good Michigan State team last year and still managed his way into the NCAA tournament. It’s unlikely that Izzo finds himself on the NCAA tournament bubble again.
What we don’t like: Relying on a lot of newcomers is difficult in the Big Ten and two of Michigan State’s best players – Tyson Walker and Max Christie – are new to the league.
Projected to return: A.J. Hoggard, Mady Sissoko, Gabe Brown, Joey Hauser, Julius Marble, Marcus Bingham Jr., Malik Hall
Arriving: Tyson Walker (from Northeastern), Max Christie (247Composite 5-star), Jaden Akins (247Composite top 100), Pierre Brooks (247Composite top 100)
5. Maryland (17-14 last season)
What we like: Eric Ayala and Donta Scott are both back in College Park and Mark Turgeon added two key transfers in Fatts Russell and Qudus Wahab.
What we don’t like: The Terps never seem to outperform expectations under Turgeon and also lost two of their best players in Aaron Wiggins (NBA) and Darryl Morsell (transfer to Marquette).
Projected to return: Marcus Dockery, James Graham III, Hakim Hart, Donta Scott, Eric Ayala
Arriving: Fatts Russell (from Rhode Island), Qudus Wahab (from Georgetown), Julian Reese (247Composite top 100), Ike Cornish, Ian Martinez (from Utah), Simon Wright (from Elon), Pavlo Dziuba (from Arizona State), Xavier Green (from Old Dominion)
4. Ohio State (21-10 last season)
What we like: We know what to expect from Ohio State under Chris Holtmann. Holtmann has finished in the top five of the league in three of his first four seasons in Columbus. EJ Liddell, a legitimate candidate for Big Ten player of the year, is back.
What we don’t like: Ohio State’s point guards are Jamari Wheeler, who transferred in from Penn State, and Meechie Johnson, who isn’t proven at the Big Ten level.
Projected to return: Justice Sueing, Zed Key, Seth Towns, Kyle Young, Justin Ahrens, Eugene Brown, Meechie Johnson, Jimmy Sotos, Abel Porter, EJ Liddell
Arriving: Jamari Wheeler (from Penn State), Malaki Branham (247Composite top 50), Kalen Etzler, Joey Brunk (from Indiana), Cedric Russell (from Louisiana)
3. Illinois (24-7 last season)
What we like: The Illini return Andre Curbelo, Trent Frazier and Kofi Cockburn, which is easily one of the best trios in the conference.
What we don’t like: Ayo Dosunmu, the Big Ten’s best closer last season, is now on the Chicago Bulls. Who will be the go-to guy for the Illini in tight games down the stretch?
Projected to return: Jacob Grandison, Andre Curbelo, Brandon Lieb, Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk, Austin Hutcherson, Coleman Hawkins, Trent Frazier, Da’Monte Williams, Kofi Cockburn
Arriving: Omar Payne (from Florida), Luke Goode (247Composite top 100), Ramses Melendez (247Composite top 100), Brandin Podziemski, Alfonso Plummer (from Utah)
2. Purdue (18-10 last season)
What we like: Everyone notable is back for Purdue, which finished fourth in the league last season. That includes Zach Edey, Trevion Williams, and Jaden Ivey.
What we don’t like: Purdue lost to North Texas in the first round of the 2021 NCAA tournament, which was one of the biggest upsets last March. Can the Boilermakers be trusted to avoid another early exit in March?
Projected to return: Zach Edey, Jaden Ivey, Eric Hunter, Brandon Newman, Sasha Stefanovic, Mason Gillis, Isaiah Thompson, Ethan Morton, Trevion Williams
Arriving: Trey Kaufman (247Composite top 50), Caleb Furst (247Composite top 100), Brian Waddell
1. Michigan (23-5 last season)
What we like: The Wolverines return Hunter Dickinson and Eli Brooks and welcome the Big Ten’s best recruiting class and an impact transfer in DeVante’ Jones.
What we don’t like: The best defender in the Big Ten last season – Franz Wagner – is now in the NBA. It’s a major loss for Juwan Howard to lose his best and most versatile defender.
Projected to return: Eli Brooks, Austin Nunez, Zeb Jackson, Brandon Johns Jr., Terrance Williams, Jace Howard, Hunter Dickinson
Arriving: Caleb Houstan (247Composite 5-star), Moussa Diabate (247Composite 5-star), Kobe Bufkin (247Composite top 50), Frankie Collins (247Composite top 100), Isaiah Barnes, Will Tschetter, DeVante’ Jones (from Coastal Carolina)
Filed to: Big Ten Power Rankings