Since joining the Big Ten, Maryland men’s basketball has placed in the top three of the conference each season. Now with the Terps looking to move forward from the Melo Trimble era, let’s see how Maryland stacks up against the rest of the conference.
A level above
Michigan State - 2017 Freshman of the Year Miles Bridges returns as a favorite for conference Player of the Year. Coach Tom Izzo also adds five-star center Jaren Jackson next to forward Nick Ward, who’s coming off an impressive freshman season, too. This is one of the most talented Spartans teams in a while, and are ranked No. 10 in the country by Kenpom. That should be scary.
Minnesota - Coach Richard Pitino should have a squad this year. The Gophers start the season ranked No. 15 in the Coaches Poll and return all-conference team selection Nate Mason and all-freshman team guard Amir Coffey. Reigning conference defensive player of the year Reggie Lynch also returns to patrol the paint after posting the second-best block percentage in the nation last year, according to KenPom.
Northwestern - It’s a new day for Northwestern basketball. This is the first year Chris Collins will field a roster full of his own recruits, and the Wildcats look dangerous. Seniors Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey will likely reprise their roles in the backcourt, with junior Vic Law on the wing. This is an experienced crop of players that should give the rest of the conference ample troubles this season.
Michigan - The Wolverines are losing a lot of talent, as Zak Irvin, D.J. Wilson, Derrick Walton and Mark Donnal are all gone. However, grad transfer guard Jaaron Simmons was a huge get for Michigan. Simmons led the charge at Ohio the last two seasons and serves as a plug-and-play leader, while the Wolverines also activate Kentucky transfer Charles Matthews to pair with seniors Moritz Wagner, Duncan Robinson and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman.
Purdue - The Boilermakers lucked out when last season’s Big Ten Player of the Year Caleb Swanigan was the only member of the team to go pro. Center Isaac Haas and forward Vincent Edwards both pulled their names from the NBA Draft to take the reigns of the team. Haas will be relied on more than ever, for better or worse.
Wisconsin - For the first time in what feels like forever, Nigel Hayes will not sport a Badgers uniform this season. Ethan Happ should be able to blossom as the team’s leading scorer and repeat his performance as its top rebounder. Happ’s coming off preseason team selections to the all-conference and all-defensive team, and looks to lead Wisconsin into combat.
Iowa - Losing Peter Jok to the NBA was big, but the Hawkeyes still figure to have a solid squad. Iowa adds local four-star center Luka Garza to its roster, who played in the Capital Classic this spring opposite Maryland freshmen Darryl Morsell and Bruno Fernando. Garza had a couple 20 point outings in Iowa’s preseason international play, and figures to play a considerable role as a freshman.
Penn State - Despite losing three players to transfer, the Nittany Lions should still improve this season. Penn State was the other team in the conference last season to start three freshmen, with Tony Carr, Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins all cracking the lineup. Carr and Stevens also represented coach Tom Chambers’ top-two scorers, with Carr making the all-freshman team. While the Nittany Lions’ trio of sophomores is getting less attention than the Terps’, they may be just as crucial to their team’s success.
Should win these
Indiana - Add the Hoosiers to the list of teams looking to replace professional talent. Archie Miller’s squad won’t have O.G. Anunoby, James Blackmon, or Thomas Bryant at its disposal this year, so Indiana could be in for a rough season.
Illinois - Coach Brad Underwood has his work cut out for him in his first year at Illinois, but he’ll have a solid crop of guards to work with, including grad transfer Mark Alstork.
Rutgers - The Scarlet Knights are starting to become more conference-relevant. They only won three Big Ten games in Steve Pikiell’s first season, but they also won their first ever Big Ten Tournament game and guard Corey Sanders looks like an NBA talent.
Ohio State - The Buckeyes lost six players this offseason, with three of them major contributors. They did add Michigan’s Andrew Dakich off the grad transfer market, but coach Chris Holtmann is likely in for a rebuild year.
Nebraska - The Cornhuskers collapsed down the stretch last season, and with Tai Webster graduated and four players leaving the team via transfer, Nebraska looks like the bottom of the conference.