While everyone is enjoying their footy footy football, basketball season is slowly creeping towards your door, ready to steal your candy and toilet paper your house. We at OTE would be remiss if we didn’t prepare you for this road ahead. And whoo boy, are you ever going to need a primer to have any idea what is happening in the B1G this season. In the weeks ahead we will look at media days and get everyone’s thoughts on what to expect from the season. Tonight, we’ll just try and figure out who is playing for what team. The Big Ten media took a straw poll on how the teams will finish - teams are listed in reverse order.
Torvik Finish Last Year: 113
Happy Trails: Alonzo Verge, Bryce McGowens, Trey McGowens, Lat Mayen
Welcome Back: Derrick Walker, C.J. Wilcher, Keisei Tominaga, Wilhelm Breidenbach
Nice To Meet You: Sam Greisel (from North Dakota St.), Juwan Gary (from Alabama), Emmanuel Bandoumel (from SMU), Blaise Keita (from Coffeyville Community College), Ramel Lloyd (four star freshman)
Why They So Low/High: Nebraska has stunk for some time, and Fred Hoiberg has never been able to get any sort of continuity in the program. Here are again. While they return some decent pieces in Wilcher and Walker, they are once again depending on a host of transfers and freshmen. Sam Greisel is a 6’7’’ point guard who was really good for NDSU last year - if he can cut it they might be improved this year.
Torvik Finish Last Year: 87
Happy Trails: Pete Nance, Ryan Young, Ryan Greer, Elyjah Williams, Casey Simmons
Welcome Back: Boo Buie, Chase Audige, Ty Berry, Robbie Beran, Julian Roper, Matthew Nicholson, Brooks Barnhizer
Nice To Meet You: Tydus Verhoeven (from UTEP)
Why They Are So Low/High: Northwestern was pretty middling last year, and then Pete Nance went to North Carolina and Ryan Young went to Duke. You have to squint really hard to see a competitive team this year, mostly with the idea that Boo Buie is going to play all the minutes and score all the points.
12. Minnesota Golden Gophers
Torvik Finish Last Year: 110
Happy Trails: Peyton Willis, E.J. Stephens, Luke Loewe, Eric Curry, Sean Sutherlin, Charlie Daniels
Welcome Back: Jamison Battle, Treyton Thompson
Nice To Meet You: Taurus Samuels (from Dartmouth), Dawson Garcia (from North Carolina), Ta’Lon Cooper (from Morehead State)
Why They Are So Low/High: Minnesota surprised a few teams with some really inspired play, though by the end of the season they were still a collection of misfit toys put together on the fly. Most of the toys are gone, replaced by new ones. They do have a proven guy in Battle, and the hope is former top 40 recruit Garcia will step in as another Dude.
Torvik Finish Last Year: 95
Happy Trails: Sam Sessoms, John Harrar, Greg Lee, Jaheam Cornwall, Jalanni White
Welcome Back: Jalen Pickett, Seth Lundy, Myles Dread, Dallion Johnson, Caleb Dorsey
Nice To Meet You: Camren Wynter (from Drexel), Andrew Funk (from Bucknell), Michael Henn (from Denver), Kebba Njie (four star freshman)
Why They Are So Low/High: They weren’t very good last year, and lost a couple stalwarts in Sessoms and Harrar. They look to be playing some small ball this year, which could help them out in a league defined by big men.
Torvik Finish Last Year: 84
Happy Trails: Fatts Russell, Eric Ayala, Qudus Wahab, Xavier Green
Welcome Back: Donta Scott, Hakim Hart, Julian Reese, Ian Martinez
Nice To Meet You: Jahmir Young (from Charlotte), Donald Carey (from Georgetown), Patrick Emilien (from St. Francis Brooklyn)
Why They Are So Low/High: New coach Kevin Willard comes over form Seton Hall and has some good pieces to work with. Young was one of the better pickups on the transfer wire, and Scott and Hart were solid last year. If the transfer guards get it going, this could be a pretty solid team in Willard’s first year.
Torvik Finish Last Year: 37
Happy Trails: Johnny Davis, Brad Davison (for real?), Lorne Bowman, Chris Vogt
Welcome Back: Tyler Wahl, Steven Crowl, Chucky Hepburn, Jahcobi Neath, Jordan Davis
Nice To Meet You: Max Klesmit (from Wofford), Kamari McGee (from Green Bay)
Why They Are So Low/High: The main issue for Wisconsin is trying to figure out who replaces The Legend of Johnny Davis. It’s the perpetual struggle of knowing that Wiscy will figure things out and make the tourney versus staring at the roster and wondering how they score points.
Torvik Finish Last Year: 75
Happy Trails: Ron Harper Jr., Geo Baker, Jaden Jones
Welcome Back: Clifford Omoruyi, Paul Mulcahy, Caleb McConnell, Aundre Hyatt, Dean Reiber, Mawot Mag
Nice To Meet You: Cam Spencer (from Loyola Maryland)
Why They Are So Low/High: Losing Harper and Baker would be a blow for any program, and replacing that production will be tough. But Steve Pikiell has been very solid coaching Rutgers, and the trifecta of Omoruyi, Mulcahy, and McConnell is not at all a bad one. Figuring out the depth on the team looks to be the main challenge, but this looks to be another spunky bunch.
Torvik Finish Last Year: 13
Happy Trails: Keegan Murray, Jordan Bohannon, Joe Toussaint, Austin Ash
Welcome Back: Pat McCaffery, Kris Murray, Tony Perkins, Filip Rebraca, Payton Sandfort, Ahron Ulis, Conor McCaffrey
Nice To Meet You: Dasonte Bowman (three star freshman)
Why They Are So Low/High: The rare team with no transfers, Iowa returns quite a few players from last year. Unfortunately, that doesn’t include fourth overall pick Keegan Murray. The hope is Murray’s twin brother Kris turns into his twin on the court. If he doesn’t turn into that, it’s hard to tell where the scoring will come from, and we know they won’t play defense.
6. THE Ohio State Buckeyes
Torvik Finish Last Year: 30
Happy Trails: E.J. Liddell, Kyle Young, Malaki Branham, Jamari Wheeler, Justin Ahrens, Meechie Johnson, Cedric Russell, Seth Towns
Welcome Back: Zed Key, Justice Sueing, Eugene Brown
Nice To Meet You: Tanner Holden (From Wright State), Sean McNeil (from West Virginia), Isaac Likekele (from Oklahoma State), Roddy Gayle (four star freshman), Bruce Thornton (four star freshman), Felix Okpara (four star freshman), Brice Sensabaugh (four star freshman)
Why They Are So Low/High: OSU rolls out an almost completely new team as long time guys like Liddell and Young are gone. All eyes will be on Justice Sueing as he becomes the de facto leader of the team. They have enough upperclassman to keep freshmen from having to start, but this is Holtmann’s best recruiting class, so expect some freshmen to play. Sensabaugh is the early leader in freshman hype.
Torvik Finish Last Year: 12
Happy Trails: Jaden Ivey, Trevion Williams, Sasha Stefanovic, Eric Hunter, Isaiah Thompson
Welcome Back: Zach Edey, Mason Gillis, Brandon Newman, Caleb Furst, Ethan Morton
Nice To Meet You: David Jenkins (from Utah), Fletcher Loyer (four star freshman)
Why They Are So Low/High: It’s Purdue, they should be good. Zach Edey remains extremely large, and this year he won’t split time with Trevion Williams. Replacing Jaden Ivey remains the most difficult proposition, and that’s why they are projected to be an also ran instead of a conference favorite.
Torvik Finish Last Year: 41
Happy Trails: Gabe Brown, Marcus Bingham, Max Christie, Julius Marble
Welcome Back: Malik Hall, Tyson Walter, Joey Hauser, A.J. Hoggard, Jaden Akins, Mady Sissoko
Nice To Meet You: Jaxon Kohler (four star freshman), Tre Holloman (four star freshman)
Why They Are So Low/High: It’s Sparty, and you never think they will be bad. Plus, they are one of the most stable teams in the league, with a returning group of contributors and no transfers. Just looking at the team and recognizing some guys is a real plus, though the guys they lost were pretty good, and this team was just all right last year.
Torvik Finish Last Year: 24
Happy Trails: Eli Brooks, DeVante’ Jones, Caleb Houstan, Moussa Diabate, Zeb Jackson, Brandon Johns, Frankie Collins
Welcome Back: Hunter Dickinson, Terrance Williams, Kobe Bufkin, Jace Howard
Nice To Meet You: Jaelin Llewellyn (from Princeton), Joey Baker (from Duke), Isaiah Barnes (redshirt freshman), Will Tschetter (redshirt freshman), Tarris Reed (four star freshman), Jett Howard (four star freshman), Dug McDaniel (four star freshman), Gregg Glenn (four star freshman), Youssef Khayat (uh, from Lebanon, the country)
Why They Are So Low/High: A big time recruiting class led to a lot of ups and downs for the Wolverines last year. They turned over a big part of their roster, so expect more ups and downs this year. Still, they do have the favorite for conference player of the year in Hunter Dickinson, so that’s a good place to start.
Torvik Finish Last Year: 20
Happy Trails: Kofi Cockburn, Alfonso Plummer, Trent Frazier, Jacob Grandison, Andre Curbelo, Da’Monte Williams, Austin Hutcherson, Omar Payne
Welcome Back: Coleman Hawkins, R.J. Melendez, Luke Goode, Brandon Lieb
Nice To Meet You: Terrence Shannon (from Texas Tech), Matthew Mayer (from Baylor), Dain Dainja (from Baylor), Skyy Clark (four star freshman), Ty Rodgers (four star freshman), Jayden Epps (four star freshman), Sencire Harris (four star freshman), Zacharie Perrine (France)
Why They Are So Low/High: When you are turning over your whole roster, it helps to have lots of good players coming in. Shannon and Mayer are good looking transfers, Coleman and Hawkins are good players to have back, and they have some freshmen who should contribute. In a normal year, they’d be lower, but with nearly everyone else also turning over their roster, the Illini are a good bet.
Torvik Finish Last Year: 28
Happy Trails: Parker Stewart, Rob Phinisee, Khristian Lander, Michael Durr
Welcome Back: Trayce Jackson-Davis, Xavier Johnson, Race Thompson, Miller Kopp, Trey Galloway, Jordan Geronimo, Tamar Bates, Anthony Leal, Logan Duncomb
Nice To Meet You: Jalen Hood-Schifino (five star freshman), Malik Reneau (four star freshman), Kaleb Banks (four star freshman)
Why They Are So Low/High: They are first mostly by default, because they were pretty fair last season, returned all their best players, and are adding some pretty talented freshmen. It’s a given that they will play great defense - if they can add some three point shooting, they will be the league’s best team. But that’s a big if.