Big Ten Basketball Preview

By Sam Sherman

Illinois

Head Coach: John Groce

Record: 20-15, 7-11 Big Ten

Postseason Finish: Lost in second round of NIT

Key Losses: Joseph Bertrand, Jon Ekey, Tracy Abrams (Torn ACL)

Key Returners: Rayvonte Rice, Nnanna Egwu

Key Additions: Leron Black, Ahmad Starks, Aaron Cosby, Michael Finke

From The Coach: “I love our experience with 11 out of 15 players having been in our program for at least a year, so we’ve got some continuity there and some maturity.”

Analysis: The Illini return most of their team from last season and add ferocious rebounder Leron Black, local product Michael Finke and two transfers in Ahmad Starks and sharpshooter Aaron Cosby.

Indiana

Head Coach: Tom Crean

Record: 17-15, 7-11 Big Ten

Postseason Finish: N/A

Key Losses: Noah Vonleh, Will Sheehey

Key Returners: Yogi Ferrell, Troy Williams, Stanford Robinson

Key Additions: James Blackmon

From The Coach: “As far as us, we’re trying to get ourselves to a point right now where we can look at every day and know that we are tenacious”

Analysis: Indiana looks forward to showcasing its top recruit, James Blackmon Jr. Blackmon was a five-star recruit who will be a legitimate candidate for Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

Iowa

Head Coach: Fran McCaffery

Record: 20-13, 9-9 Big Ten

Postseason Finish: Lost in First Four

Key Losses: Roy Devyn Marble, Melsahn Basabe

Key Returners: Mike Gesell, Aaron White, Adam Woodbury

Key Additions: Dom Uhl, Trey Dickerson

From The Coach: (On losing Marble) “Well, the leadership and talent, obviously it shifts to Aaron White. It’s Aaron White’s team. But again, he’s got two other seniors and four juniors all of whom played a lot, and they’re all good people and they’re all good players.” 

Analysis: The loss of leading scorer Marble will hurt the Hawkeyes offensively, but with a returning core of Gesell, White and Woodbury, theyshould be in good shape.

Maryland

Head Coach: Mark Turgeon

Record: 17-15, 9-9 ACC

Postseason Finish: N/A

Key Losses: Nick Faust, Seth Allen

Key Returners: Jake Layman, Evan Smotrycz

Key Additions: Romelo Trimble, Dion Wiley,

From The Coach: “Obviously, with a season you’re always excited, but when you’re joining a new league, it even makes it a little bit more exciting.”

Analysis: Maryland’s transition to the Big Ten could be a lot smoother with the help of a top-15 recruiting class. It finished at .500 in the ACC last year, and with a great class to build around, Maryland could be an interesting team to watch going into the 2014-15 season. 

Michigan

Head Coach: John Beilein

Record: 28-9, 15-3 Big Ten

Postseason Finish: Lost in Elite Eight

Key Losses: Mitch McGary, Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III, Jordan Morgan

Key Returners: Derrick Walton, Caris LeVert, Zak Irvin

Key Additions: Kameron Chatman

From The Coach: (On Caris LeVert) “I love his personality because he doesn’t let things bother him very much” 

Analysis: The NBA draft took three of the Wolverine’s top players from last season. The maize and blue return key players in Derrick Walton, Caris LeVert and Zak Irvin.

Michigan State

Head Coach: Tom Izzo

Record: 29-9, 12-6 Big Ten

Postseason Finish: Loss in Elite Eight 

Key Losses: Adreian Payne, Keith Appling, Gary Harris

Key Returners: Denzel Valentine

Key Additions: Lourawls Nairn, Javon Bess

From The Coach: “I kind of like this team. I think it’s a team with the same kind of passion we had last year, the same kind of camaraderie, but a little better leadership.”

Analysis: The Spartans hope that talented forward Denzel Valentine can become the all-around player that former Spartan great Draymond Green was. If Valentine can put it all together, expect the Spartans to have a solid year.

Minnesota

Head Coach: Richard Pitino

Record: 25-13, 8-10 Big Ten

Postseason Finish: Won NIT

Key Losses: Austin Hollins, Malik Smith

Key Returners: Andre Hollins, Deandre Mathieu, Maurice Walker

Key Additions: Josh Martin, Nate Mason

From The Coach: “The NIT, winning the NIT, it’s just weird — nobody knows how to handle it. Do you brag about it?”

Analysis: Pitino joked at Big Ten Media Day that the team didn’t really know how to celebrate being NIT Champions. The question this season will be whether or not Pitino can take the Gophers to the next level.

Nebraska

Head Coach: Tim Miles

Record: 19-13, 11-7 Big Ten

Postseason Finish: Lost in round of 64

Key Losses: Ray Gallegos

Key Returners: Terran Petteway, Shavon Shields, Tai Webster

Key Additions: Jacob Hammond

From The Coach: “I mean, we weren’t any good until we defended.”

Analysis: Last season, the Cornhuskers had a lackluster showing in the NCAA tournament, but many people believe this season will be even bette.

Northwestern

Head Coach: Chris Collins

Record: 14-19, 6-12 Big Ten

Postseason Finish: N/A

Key Losses: Drew Crawford, Kyle Abrahamson, Aaron Liberman

Key Returners: Dave Sobolewski, Tre Demps, Alex Olah

Key Additions: Vic Law, Bryant McIntosh

From The Coach: “We lost a lot with Drew Crawford. Drew was kind of our ‘Mr. Everything.’”

Analysis: While the Wildcats have still never reached the NCAA tournament, Collins’ led Northwestern to some solid wins last year. He built a strong recruiting class.

Ohio State

Head Coach: Thad Matta

Record: 25-10, 10-8 Big Ten

Postseason Finish: Lost in Elite Eight

Key Losses: Aaron Craft, Lenzelle Smith Jr., LaQuinton Ross

Key Returners: Sam Thompson, Shannon Scott, Amir Williams, Marc Loving

Key Additions: D’Angelo Russell, Keita Bates-Diop, Jae’Sean Tate

From The Coach: “I think from the standpoint of a lot of questions about our basketball team, from the standpoint of losing three starters, I’ve told people we’re going to be a different team.”

Analysis: It should be an interesting year for the Buckeyes after losing Aaron Craft to graduation. It seems like Craft had played at Ohio State for 10 years and he really was the heart and soul of the team. They still return plenty of talent from last season, but I wouldn’t be surprised if losing Craft impacts them greatly.

Penn State

Head Coach: Pat Chambers

Record: 16-18, 6-12 Big Ten

Postseason Finish: Lost in CBI Quarterfinals

Key Losses: Tim Frazier

Key Returners: D.J. Newbill, Ross Travis, Brandon Taylor

Key Additions: Shep Garner

From The Coach: “The Big Ten is a difficult league, but as long as we compete like we did last year, hopefully, some of those swing games will go our way this year.”

Analysis: Penn State has had some rough times in the Big Ten. They lose impact scorer, Tim Frazier this season. They do bring back D.J. Newbill, Ross Travis and Brandon Taylor, so if they can take the next developmental step, the season can be more successful for Coach Chambers’ squad. More than likely, Penn State will spend yet another season near the bottom of the Big Ten. 

Purdue

Head Coach: Matt Painter

Record: 15-17, 5-13 Big Ten

Postseason Finish: N/A

Key Losses: Terone Johnson, Ronnie Johnson

Key Returners: A.J. Hammons

Key Additions: Isaac Haas

From The Coach: “I like our guys. We have good size in A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas.”

Analysis: Purdue had another disappointing season last year. For a team that was once a power in the Big Ten, it is still kind of weird to see the Boilermakers hang out at the bottom of the conference in recent history. If A.J. Hammons ever realizes his true potential, he could be an absolute threat in the Big Ten, but until then, Purdue will struggle.

Rutgers

Head Coach: Eddie Jordan

Record: 12-21, 5-13 ACC

Postseason Finish: N/A

Key Losses: J.J. Moore, Jerome Seagears,

Key Returners: Myles Mack, Kadeem Jack

Key Additions: Ibrahima Diallo

From The Coach: “We know where we are as far as the 14-team league, and again, it’s going to be a great challenge for us, and we just hope that we can be competitive and represent our school, our University, and our community in a respectful way.”

Analysis: Rutgers is one of the two new schools to enter the Big Ten this season. They had a very unsuccessful year last season and it won’t help that it is now playing in the nation’s toughest conference. They return a couple of key scorers from last season, so it could build from there, but don’t be surprised if they hang around the bottom of the Big Ten this season.

Wisconsin

Head Coach: Bo Ryan

Record: 30-8, 12-6 Big Ten

Postseason Finish: Lost in Final Four of NCAA Tournament

Key Losses: Ben Brust

Key Returners: Nigel Hayes, Traevon Jackson, Sam Dekker, Josh Gasser, Frank Kaminsky

Key Additions: Ethan Happ

From The Coach: “Most of the players that are playing in the Big Ten played in high schools where their teams were targeted, where their teams were marked.”

Analysis: Wisconsin comes into the season with about as much hype as they’ve ever had, and rightfully so. They return basically their entire team from last year, the same team that made it all the way to the Final Four a year ago. Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker will make the Badgers the team to beat all season long in the Big Ten.