Updated: Oct 10, 2020
The NCAA recently announced that November 25th would be the start date for college basketball. With most of the rosters already set for 2020, it is clear the Big Ten is going to be one of the most competitive conferences in the country for 2020. There are some bad teams, but there can be 5 or 6 teams that can be legitimate contenders for the conference championship.
Projected Starters: G Trey McGowans JR, G Thorir Thorbjarnarson SR, G Teddy Allen JR, F Shamiel Stevenson JR, F Yvan Ouedraogo SO
Key Backups: G Dalano Banton SO, G Elijah Wood FR, F Akol Arop SO, F Lat Mayen JR, C Eduardo Andre FR
There are a lot of question marks surrounding this team. Nebraska's best player, Cam Mack, was no stranger to trouble and had to transfer away. Kobe King was supposed to come in from Wisconsin and ended up backing out at the last minute. Pittsburgh transfer Trey McGowans and JUCO transfer Teddy Allen will likely be the primary scorers on a team that might not win a single conference game. This team is going to be at the bottom of the Big Ten for the entire season as Fred Hoiberg looks to rebuild this team. If he can't, his seat will be getting warmer and warmer at the end of just his second year.
Projected Starters: G Boo Buie SO, G Anthony Gaines SR, G/F Miller Kopp JR, F Pete Nance JR, C Ryan Young SO
Key Backups: G, Ryan Greer JR, G Chase Audige SO, F Robbie Beran SO
The only reason this team is above Nebraska is the continuity. All of Northwestern's projected starters were there last year. Coach Chris Collins had a rotation filled with underclassmen last year, and they have all came back. This team is going to be in trouble if one of their bigs gets in foul trouble as they have the weakest bench in the Big Ten. Boo Buie, Miller Kopp, Ryan Young, and Pete Nance are all going to have to make decent leaps if Northwestern wants to contend in the Big Ten.
Projected Starters: G Marcus Carr JR, G Gabe Kalscheur JR, G Jamal Mashburn Jr FR, F Brandon Johnson SR, C Liam Robbins JR
Key backups: G Tre Williams SO, F Jarvis Omersa JR, G David Mutaf FR, F Isaiah Ihnen SO, F Martice Mitchell FR
A couple of years ago, Minnesota was one of the best teams in the Big Ten. Now, they are towards the bottom with the loss of Daniel Oturu. Oturu was their anchor on defense and was their highest scorer on offense. Marcus Carr comes back, and he will take on an even larger role on offense. Intriguing freshman Jamal Mashburn Jr comes in and should provide some scoring off the bench. The biggest problem with this team is their frontcourt depth. Liam Robbins is likely to take Daniel Oturu's spot as he comes in from Drake. This team is rebuilding and likely needs another year to make it out of the bottom of the Big 10.
Projected Starters: G Aaron Wiggins JR, G Eric Ayala JR, G Darryl Morsell SR, G/F Donta Scott SO, F Galin Smith SR
Key Backups: G Aquan Smart FR, G/F Hakim Hart SO, F Arnaud Revas FR, C Chol Marial SO
Maryland went through a lot of change in the offseason. Anthony Cowan and Jalen Smith will not be playing this year due to Cowan running out of eligibility and Smith declaring for the NFL Draft. Depth is going to be a problem as Maryland had five key role players transfer in Serrel Smith, Mahkel Mitchell, Makhi Mitchell, Ricky Lindo, and Joshua Tomaic. Galin Smith is coming in from Alabama, and if Jarius Hamilton can play, it will be fantastic for Maryland's frontcourt depth.
Projected Starters: G Myreon Jones JR, G Myles Dread JR, G Izaiah Brokington JR, F Seth Lundy SO, F John Harrar SR
Key Backups: G Jamari Wheeler SR, G Sam Sessoms JR, G DJ Gordon FR, G/F Caleb Dorsey FR, F Trent Buttrick SR
Penn State is going to be a very different team without Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins. Myreon Jones and Myles Dread are going to have to take on a huge scoring role this season. Frontcourt depth is a big issue as Mike Watkins departed. Rebounding and interior defense will be the two main issues as no one on this team is not going to be able to protect the paint. Penn State must figure that out quickly if they want to upset some of the top teams in the Big Ten.
Projected Starters: G Isaiah Thompson SO, G Eric Hunter JR, G Sasha Stefanovic JR, F Aaron Wheeler JR, F Trevion Williams JR
Key Backups: G Jaden Ivey FR, G Brandon Newman FR, G Ethan Morton FR, F Mason Gillis FR, C Zach Edey FR
Purdue always seems to reload year after year because their best players are usually seniors. This year is no different as Nojel Eastern and Matt Haarms transferred from Purdue, and Jahaad Proctor graduated. While those players were among their best, the impact they made didn't show in the box score. Three of Purdue's top 4 scorers are back in Erick Hunter, Sasha Stefanovic, and Trevion Williams. They are going to have to carry a big load as Purdue is going to have a very inexperienced bench.
Projected Lineup: G Khristian Lander FR, G Aljami Durham SR, Rob Phinisee JR, F Joey Brunk SR, F Trayce Jackson-Davis SO
Key Backups: G Armaan Franklin SO, G/F Jordan Geronimo FR, F Jerome Hunter SO, F Race Thompson JR
Indiana has a lot of its production back from 2019. Trayce Jackson-Davis returns as their top scorer, and Aljami Durham, Rob Phinisee, and Joey Brunk were all key role players. They also added 5-star point guard Khristian Lander who will make an immediate impact right away. Jordan Geronimo is a 4-star who should make an impact off the bench. Brunk, Jackson-Davis, Hunter, and Thompson were all at Indiana last year, so they keep continuity in the frontcourt.
Projected Lineup: G Duane Washington JR, G CJ Walker SR, G/F Justice Sueing JR, F Seth Towns SR, F EJ Liddell SO
Key Backups: G Abel Porter SR, G Eugene Brown FR, F Justin Ahrens, F Kyle Young, C Ibrahima Diallo SO
Ohio State lost a couple of key players to the transfer portal in Luther Muhammed, D.J. Carton, and Alonzo Gaffney. They have replaced them with three transfers in Abel Porter, Justice Sueing, and Seth Towns. All three of them figure to play a role on this team. EJ Lidell is playing the center position, and while he is only 6'7", he uses his body very well and can hold his own against the better bigs in the Big Ten. Duane Washington and CJ Walker also return as the two top scorers for the Buckeyes and should provide headaches for opposing teams.
Projected Lineup: G Geo Baker SR, G Jacob Young SR, G Montez Mathis JR, G/F Ron Harper Jr JR, C Myles Johnson JR
Key Backups: G/F Paul Mulcahy SO, G/F Caleb McConnel JR, F Oscar Palmquist FR, C Clifford Omoruyi FR
Rutgers was one of the breakout teams in the Big Ten last season. They return 7 of their top 8 scorers and bring in 4-star center Clifford Omoruyi, who could push for a starting role. Rutgers was almost impossible to beat at home last year, but couldn't seem to get anything going on the road. Geo Baker and Ron Harper Jr will be the catalysts again and will try to get Rutgers back to the NCAA Tournament as they likely would've last year.
Projected Lineup: G Eli Brooks SR, G Mike Smith SR, G/F Franz Wagner SO, F Isaiah Livers SR, C Hunter Dickinson FR
Key Backups: G Zeb Jackson FR, G Chaundee Brown SR, G/F Adrian Nunez JR, F Brandon Johns JR, F Austin Davis SR
This Michigan team is one of the deepest teams in the Big Ten. Juwan Howard runs an eight-man rotation, and there is no way he can do that this year. Zavier Simpson and Jon Teske both graduated, and Juwan Howard has to find someone to replace them if this team wants success. The two likely candidates are Mike Smith, a Columbia transfer, and Hunter Dickinson, a 4-star freshman. I think Dickinson can slide right into the Teske role. Franz Wagner, Isaiah Livers, and Eli Brooks are all fantastic offensive players, but they will need to improve their defense. Chaundee Brown comes in from Wake Forest and could also start as he is an elite rebounder for a guard and is a fantastic addition to this team.
Projected Starters: G Jordan Bohannon SR, G Joe Toussaint SO, G CJ Fredrick SO, G Joe Wieskamp JR, C Luka Garza
Key Backups: G Ahron Ulis FR, G/F Connor McCaffery JR, F Josh Ogundele FR
Iowa would likely be the best team in the Big Ten, but there is one problem with them. That is, they could not guard a parked car. Luka Garza is one of the favorites for the Wooden Award, and every starter is coming back from last year. In addition to every starter coming back, they get sharpshooter Jordan Bohannon back from injury. Expect a lot of high scoring games from the Hawkeyes, where the other team scores a lot as well.
Projected Starters: G D'Mitrik Trice SR, G Brad Davison SR, F Aleem Ford SR, F Micah Potter SR, F Nate Reuvers SR
Key Backups: G Trevor Anderson SR, G Johnny Davis FR, F Ben Carlson FR, F Tyler Wahl SO
Wisconsin has one of the most experienced teams in the country. As you can see in the depth chart, every one of their starters is a senior. The only player not coming back for Wisconsin is Brevin Pritzl. Ben Carlson is a 4-star forward that is coming in who should provide relief for the three forwards in the starting lineup. This team can shoot the lights out, but they are not very deep and will struggle when they get into foul trouble.
Projected Starters: G Rocket Watts SO, G Joshua Langford SR, G/F Aaron Henry JR, F Joey Hauser JR, F Marcus Bingham JR
Key Backups: G AJ Hoggard FR, G/F Gabe Brown JR, F Malik Hall JR, F Thomas Kithier JR, F Julius Marble SO, C Mady Sissoko FR
Joshua Langford is back from his injury that has kept him out since December 2018, and that is very big for Michigan State. Michigan State will have a player that can shoot and be trusted to close out games. The Spartans have the deepest team in the Big Ten as they can go 11 players into their depth chart without struggling. Michigan State will likely share the wealth on offense with scoring threats all over the court. Rocket Watts, Joshua Langford, Aaron Henry, and Joey Hauser are all capable of scoring 20 in a game. No one on this team will average more than 17 points per game, but 5 or 6 are likely to average at least 9. Michigan State could compete for a 1 or 2 seed this year, but they will likely get off to a slow start without Cassius Winston and Xavier Tillman. Once this team finds their footing, they are going to be scary.
Projected Starters: G Trent Frazier SR, G Ayo Dosunmu JR, G Adam Miller FR, F Giorgi Bezhanishvili JR, C Kofi Cockburn SO
Key Backups: G Andre Curbello FR, G Da'Monte Williams SR, G Austin Hutcherson JR, G/F Jacob Grandison JR, C Jermaine Hamlin SO
It feels strange calling Illinois the best team in the Big Ten, but they are legit. Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn form one of the best dynamic duos in the country. Dosunmu is a do-it-all guard, and Kofi Cockburn is unstoppable in the post. Trent Frazier is a fantastic third option as well. Illinois also picked up two 4-stars in Adam Miller and Andre Cubello, who will contribute right away. Giorgi Bezhanishvili needs to be a lot more consistent, and if he can't do that, Da'Monte Williams will likely take his spot. This team will not only be competing for the top of the Big Ten but possibly for a 1 or 2 seed in March Madness.