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Big Ten basketball: 2014-15 conference preview

Welcome to Big Ten basketball! It'll be here before you know it, so get excited.

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sport

Ready or not, the start of basketball season is quickly approaching. Maryland's in a new conference, and no longer will Duke or UNC be the biggest games on the schedule. Terps fans have a new set of teams to learn, or learn to hate, and we take a look at them here.

*I'm previewing these in the order they rank in the preseason Big Ten media poll, which was released last week.


Coach: Bo Ryan (14th season)
Last season's record: 30-8 (12-6 Big Ten)
Leading returning scorer: Frank Kaminsky (13.9 ppg)
Coaches Poll rank: No. 4
When do the Terps play them? Feb. 24 (H)

Wisconsin is easily the early season Big Ten favorite. The Badgers are coming off a Final Four appearance and lose just one starter, the graduated Ben Brust. Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker, Traevon Jackson and Josh Gasser all return, and all four started every game last season for Wisconsin, as Bo Ryan never changed his starting lineup once. Kaminsky was chosen as the preseason Big Ten Player of the Year by the media, while Dekker was chosen for the All-Big Ten team.

Kaminsky, a 7-footer, led the Badgers last season with 13.9 points and 6.3 rebounds, but Wisconsin relied on a balanced scoring attack featuring four players who averaged double figures. And by the way, Kaminsky can shoot the three -- he made 37 last season and shot 38 percent from the perimeter.

On the recruiting front, Wisconsin brings in just two: three-star PF Ethan Happ and an under-the-radar SG in T.J. Schlundt.

Ohio State

Coach: Thad Matta (11th season)
Last season's record: 25-10 (10-8 Big Ten)
Leading returning scorer: Sam Thompson (7.9 ppg)
Coaches Poll rank: No. 20
When do the Terps play them? Jan. 29 (A)

The Buckeyes lose their top three scorers from last season -- LaQuinton Ross, Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith, Jr., but bring in a stacked recruiting class that ranks No. 8 nationally in 247Sports' composite and features three Top 100 players. The jewel of the class is McDonald's All-American SG D'Angelo Russell, ESPN's No. 13 recruit.

Ohio State returns senior big men Sam Thompson and Amir Williams, who averaged 7.9 and 7.8 points last season, respectively, as well as senior guard Shannon Scott, who averaged 7.5. The Buckeyes also bring in Temple graduate transfer Anthony Lee, who averaged 13.6 points and 8.7 rebounds for the Owls last season. Lee can play immediately, but transfer Trevor Thompson from Virginia Tech will have to sit.

Michigan State

Coach: Tom Izzo (20th season)
Last season's record: 29-9 (12-6)
Leading returning scorer: Branden Dawson (11.2 ppg)
Coaches Poll rank: No. 18
When do the Terps play them? Dec. 30 (A), Jan. 17 (H)

Last season's Big Ten Tournament champions lose three of their top four scorers, but return senior forward Branden Dawson and junior guard Denzel Valentine. Coach Tom Izzo has already said that Dawson, Valentine and senior guard Travis Trice will be the Spartans new "Big Three."  Dawson and Valentine combined for over 14 rebounds per game in 2013-14. As a team, the Spartans tied for the highest three-point percentage in the conference at 39.8.

Michigan State brings in Cleveland State transfer Bryn Forbes, who got a hardship waiver and can play immediately. Forbes, a junior, led the Vikings last season with 15.6 points per game and shot 42 percent from three. The Spartans' recruiting class is ranked No. 51 and includes four-star PG Lourawls Nairn Jr. and two three-stars.


Coach: Tim Miles (3rd season)
Last season's record: 19-13 (11-7 Big Ten)
Leading returning scorer: Terran Petteway (18.1 ppg)
Coaches Poll rank: No. 21
When do the Terps play them? Feb. 19 (H), March 8 (A)

The Cornhuskers return their top two scorers from 2013-14, including junior forward Terran Petteway, who led the conference last season with 18.1 points per game and was named to the preseason All-Big Ten team. Junior guard Shavon Shields, who averaged 12.8 points, also returns. The Huskers do lose seven players (including Deverell Biggs, who was dismissed in January), including three to transfer.

Nebraska's 2014 class includes two three-stars, PF Jake Hammond and PG Tarin Smith.


Coach: John Beilein (8th season)
Last season's record: 28-9 (15-3 Big Ten)
Leading returning scorer: Caris LeVert (12.9)
Coaches Poll rank: No. 23
When do the Terps play them? Feb. 28 (H)

The Wolverines won the Big Ten regular season title last season, but lose both Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III (who combined for 30.6 points per game) to the NBA, as well as Mitch McGary, who was injured for most of the year. Their leading returning scorer is junior guard Caris LeVert (12.9 points) and they also return starter Derrick Walton Jr. (7.9 points). LeVert was selected to the preseason All-Big Ten team. The Wolverines led the conference in shooting in 2013-14 by making 48.1 percent of their shots, but their departed players were a key part of that.

Michigan brings in a seven-man recruiting class, led by four-stars Kameron Chatman and D.J. Wilson. The class is ranked No. 28 nationally and third in the Big Ten by 247's composite.


Coach: Richard Pitino (2nd season)
Last season's record: 25-13 (8-10 Big Ten)
Leading returning scorer: Andre Hollins (13.6 ppg)
Coaches Poll rank: N/R (receiving votes)
When do the Terps play them? Jan. 3 (H)

The Golden Gophers won the 2014 NIT in Richard Pitino's (son of Rick) first season as coach. NIT Most Outstanding player Austin Hollins has graduated, but Minnesota returns seniors Andre Hollins (no relation) and Deandre Mathieu, who combined to average over 25 points. Senior center Elliott Eliason also returns, who led the Gophers with 6.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game in 2013-14.

Minnesota's 2014 recruiting class ranks No. 71 nationally and contains five players, all three-stars.


Coach: Fran McCaffery (5th season)
Last season's record: 20-13 (9-9 Big Ten)
Leading returning scorer: Aaron White (12.8 ppg)
Coaches Poll rank: No. 25
When do the Terps play them? Feb. 8 (A)

The Hawkeyes reached the NCAA Tournament last season, but lost in a First Four matchup with Tennessee. They lose guard Devyn Marble, who was fourth in the Big Ten last season with 17.3 points per game, but return three of their top four scorers. Senior forward Aaron White averaged 12.8 points last season and led the team with 6.7 rebounds, while Mike Gesell and Jarrod Uthoff both added over seven points per game. The Hawkeyes led the Big Ten in both points and rebounds per game last season, with averages of 82 points and 40.7 rebounds.

Iowa brings in three/four-star PG Trey Dickerson from JUCO, where he was an All-American and considered the No. 1 JUCO point guard by 247. He joins three-stars Brady Ellingson and Dominique Uhl, who together made up the No. 72 class.


Coach: John Groce (3rd season)
Last season's record: 20-15 (7-11 Big Ten)
Leading returning scorer: Rayvonte Rice (15.9 ppg)
Coaches Poll rank: N/R (receiving votes)
When do the Terps play them? Jan. 7 (A)

The Fighting Illini were dealt an early blow when starting point guard Tracy Abrams tore his ACL in September and was lost for the entire season. Abrams, a senior, was second on the team in scoring last season and will redshirt this year. Illinois returns senior guard Rayvonte Rice, who averaged 15.9 points and 6.0 rebounds last season, but between Abrams and the departed Joseph Bertrand and Jon Ekey, the Illini lose their next three highest scorers.

Illinois brought in a two-man recruiting class of Top 50 four-star Leron Black and three-star Michael Finke. Together, they're ranked the No. 47 class.


Coach: Tom Crean (7th season)
Last season's record: 17-15 (7-11 Big Ten)
Leading returning scorer: Yogi Ferrell (17.3 ppg)
Coaches Poll rank: N/R
When do the Terps play them? Jan. 22 (A), Feb. 11 (H)

After receiving a No. 1 seed in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, the Hoosiers missed both the NCAAs and NIT last season. Indiana loses two of its top three scorers, including first-round NBA draft pick Noah Vonleh, but return junior guard Yogi Ferrell, who led the team last season with 17.3 points and 3.9 assists per game and was fifth in the Big Ten in scoring. Farrell was named to the preseason All-Big Ten team. The Hoosiers had four players transfer out but also retain starting forward Troy Williams, who averaged 7.3 points and 4.4 rebounds.

Indiana brings in a six-man class ranked the No. 17 in the nation and second-best in the conference, highlighted by five-star SG James Blackmon Jr.


Coach: Matt Painter (10th season)
Last season's record: 15-17 (5-13 Big Ten)
Leading returning scorer: A.J. Hammonds (10.8 ppg)
Coaches Poll rank: N/R
When do the Terps play them? Jan. 10 (A)

Big Ten bottom-dwellers last season, the Boilermakers lose six players from the 2013-14 squad, including their top two scorers, one of whom transferred to Houston. Their leading returner is junior center A.J. Hammonds, who averaged 10.8 points and led the team with 7.4 rebounds per game.

Purdue brings in its third-straight Top 35 recruiting class, which includes four-stars Isaac Haas and Vincent Edwards and three three-stars.

Penn State

Coach: Pat Chambers (4th season)
Last season's record: 16-18 (6-12 Big Ten)
Leading returning scorer: D.J. Newbill (17.8 ppg)
Coaches Poll rank: N/R
When do the Terps play them? Feb. 4 (H), Feb. 14 (A)

The Nittany Lions went to the CBI last year after notching their most wins since 2010-11. Leading scorer D.J. Newbill returns, and the senior guard was second in the Big Ten in scoring last season. Tim Frazier's 14.9 points per game has graduated, but in all, Penn State returns four players who started most of its games last season, including junior forward Brandon Taylor (9.2 ppg) and senior forward Ross Travis (8.4 ppg).

Penn State brings in JUCO transfer Devin Foster and two three-star recruits, Shep Garner and Isaiah Washington.


Coach: Chris Collins (2nd season)
Last season's record: 14-19 (6-12 Big Ten)
Leading returning scorer: JerShon Cobb (12.2 ppg)
Coaches Poll rank: N/R
When do the Terps play them? Jan. 25 (H)

The Wildcats lose seven players from last year's squad, including four who transferred. Senior guard JerShon Cobb and junior guard Tre Demps return, and both averaged over double figures last season, but leading scorer Drew Crawford graduated. Starters Samjay Lumpkin, Alex Olah and Dave Sobolewski also return. Judging by last season, second-year coach Chris Collins likes to play slow, as the Wildcats averaged a conference low 59.5 points per game. Northwestern also ranked dead last in three-point percentage in the Big Ten last season, despite taking more shots from the perimeter than anyone else in the conference.

Northwestern brings in the No. 54 recruiting class, highlighted by four-star forward Victor Law, who joins four three-stars.


Coach: Eddie Jordan (2nd season)
Last season's record: 12-21 (5-13 AAC)
Leading returning scorer: Myles Mack (14.9 ppg)
Coaches Poll rank: N/R
When do the Terps play them? Jan. 14 (H), March 3 (A)

The Big Ten's other newcomers, Rutgers struggled in the AAC last season, finishing in seventh place, and garnered just 27 points in the Big Ten preseason poll. But the Scarlet Knights return their top two scorers in the form of rhyming duo Myles Mack and Kadeem Jack, who both averaged over 14 points last year. Unfortunately for the Knights, their next three scorers all departed, either to graduation or transfer.

Rutgers brings in three three-star recruits: Mike Williams, D.J. Foreman and Ibrahima Diallo.