Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State opens the season as a top five team, which seems to be an annual tradition. The Spartans are the favorites to take the Big Ten crown.
The Terrapins suffered a big loss with the departure of Melo Trimble to the NBA, but Anthony Cowan and Justin Jackson will likely be the next wave of great Maryland ballers.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
The Golden Gophers will rely heavily on veteran players after losing Eric Curry for the season. Watch out for Isaiah Washington in 2017, who is a potential Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
A lot of people think the Boilermakers could be a top-ten team in 2017, but it is hard to overlook the loss of Caleb Swanigan to the NBA. Purdue should still be in the Big Ten’s top-seven, but its three year run of 12 win Big Ten seasons could be in jeopardy.
Nigel Hayes could be the biggest loss for Wisconsin, but it is hard to count out a team with a big man like Ethan Happ. Look out for this team, led by head coach Greg Gard.
After their first NCAA Tournament appearance, the Wildcats look poised to make the dance for back-to-back seasons. With the majority of the team back for 2017, Northwestern could turn some heads nationally.
Iowa hurt itself in 2016 more often than not, and the loss of Peter Jok means the Hawkeyes may not have a leader on the court. Will someone step up and assume leadership? The roster is solid but needs some refining.
The big question mark for Michigan will be how it rebounds from losing its three best players from a year ago. John Beilein will need to find ways to win with a young team that includes a few transfers. The start to the season may be more rough than the end.
Indiana may be one of the more veteran squads in the Big Ten this season, which should help them in tight games but lost a good chunk of their offense to the NBA. Can Archie Miller make a splash in his Big Ten head coaching debut?
Illinois Fighting Illini
Illinois comes into 2017 with a new head coach, Brad Underwood, who wants to run a system that is foreign to the Big Ten. Could Underwood and newcomer Mark Smith lead this team back to national relevancy? Maybe not this year, but soon.
Penn State Nittany Lions
It seems like Pat Chambers has been on the hot seat at Penn State for ages now, and this year may be his last chance to save his job. Look for transfers Payton Banks and Terrence Samuel to be integral parts of the Nittany Lion offense.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Less than ten years ago, Ohio State was reeling off 29-plus win seasons and four-straight Sweet Sixteen appearances. Now, with the unexpected departure of Thad Matta, the Buckeyes seem to be in freefall. Depth will be an issue in Columbus, but they have enough playmakers to compete.
The Huskers lost far too many pieces to be relevant in 2017, but they could still win some big games with Glynn Watson. Look for Nebraska to play better once Isaac Copeland is eligible after the first semester.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
The highlight of Rutgers’ season in 2016 was ruining Illinois’ chances of making the NCAA tournament. Rutgers looks like the standard cellar team that they have been in the past, but the Scarlet Knights may see improvement with an experienced frontcourt.