There's no question that 2012-13 was a banner year for the Big Ten – hell the only way it could've been better was having a team actually win the NCAA Tournament. So, good luck 2013-14, you've got some big standards to live up to. Luckily for them, just like the snowflakes that fly during basketball season throughout Big Ten country, each season is it's own unique self.
It'll have to be this upcoming season because every player in both our and the Big Ten's 1st team All-Big Ten list are off to the greener pastures of the NBA and of course there is a ton of graduating talent that dotted the 2nd and 3rd team lists. Thankfully though the Big Ten didn't suffer from the awful disease known as the "One-and-Done" player leaving after just his freshman season.
Now that the NBA's deadline for declaring for the NBA Draft has come and gone we here at The B1G Time have a clear set of rosters and can objectively look forward to the new season that's just about 6 months away.
Welcome to our WAY TOO EARLY predictions for 2013-14!!
1. Michigan State
The Spartans may be the most complete team returning as they only lose one player from their entire team, one Derrick Nix. That means an offense that will likely run through Adreian Payne and with a young Garry Harris back after a great freshman season. Ya, that backcourt is going to be just fine as well. In fact this team could be one of the most hyped teams in the Tom Izzo era – about as hyped as the 1999-2000 team that featured Mo Pete, Mateen Cleaves, and Jason Richardson. This team received every first place vote from our staff in this one and it's likely that it's not going to change when we get to our official predictions this fall.
2. Ohio State
This one may shock some with the loss of the Big Ten's leading scorer and B1G Time 1st team All-Big Ten pick, DeShaun Thomas. However, they return a lot of really nice pieces and the heart and soul of this team in Aaron Craft. Additionally we saw the likes of Sam Thompson and LaQuinton Ross really step up later on in the season and with Thomas gone they will need to step up on the scoring front all season long. Finally just like the Spartans, the Buckeyes only graduated one player off of last year's team.
Gone are Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr. but back are three players who had major impacts as freshman this past season in Glenn Robinson III, Nic Stauskas, and Mitch McGary. This team will need to find a play maker with the ball in his hands next year and while that could be Burke's backup in Spike Albrecht there are questions around this talented, but very young team next season. Another high quality recruiting class coming in for John Beilein and Co. should help take the sting out of things a bit as well.
Tom Crean likes to overrecruit, no in fact we dare say this guy is in love with the practice. As it turns out he also happens to now be in a position to bring in some of the top recruits in the country as IU has four Top 100 (according to the 247sports composite) players coming in (Noah Vonleh, Troy Williams, Stanford Robinson, and Luke Fisher) and will augment a freshman group from last season that didn't see a lot of playing time because of early season suspensions and a loaded roster – expect this team to be very competitive again.
Once again a Bo Ryan coached team finished fourth place or higher in the Big Ten, a feat that's quickly becoming like the sun rising and setting, you know happening all the time… However, this next season will be an interesting one for Bucky as their entire starting frontcourt from last season and will be counting on a very experienced backcourt of Traevon Jackson, Ben Brust, and George Marshall. They'll get even more help with a returning Josh Gasser. He'll team up with budding star Sam Dekker to carry the load for this team. Look out for their one big recruit, point guard Bronson Koenig to be a player even in that loaded backcourt.
While the results weren't great for the Boilermakers last season there were some major bright spots that could lead to a very intriguing 2013-14 in West Lafayette. Optimism abounds thanks to the Johnson brothers (Terone and Ronnie) and one of the best freshman in the Big Ten last season in A.J. Hammons. He's a budding star in this league and if Matt Painter's crew can build on the decent foundation built last season this team could be a challenger for an upper-half finish.
The Hawkeyes finished this past season with a run to the NIT Championship game, something a Big Ten team has done in back-to-back seasons. Hawkeye fans will be hoping results are a bit better than what Minnesota produced, at least in the Big Ten season. HC Fran McCaffrey has perhaps the most intriguing roster in the conference as they only lose guard Eric May from the mix. With the likes of Mike Gessel and Roy Devyn Marble on board again this could be a breakout year, unless the curse of raised expectations from an NIT run aren't met.
This team may take a step back next season before taking a big leap forward and that's because they'll be adjusting to life without Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson, and Tyler Griffey (36.1ppg combined). Sure Tracy Abrams and Nnanna Egwu are back and played some solid minutes, but this is the new era of the Big Ten and rebuilding teams aren't usually treated all that kindly. On the flip side it appeared that the trio that's leaving gave this program all it could and perhaps with a fresh outlook and the 2nd year under John Groce this team will flourish. This is an intriguing team thanks to Groce reaching into Chicago for some big time talent like guards Kendrick Nunn and Malcom Hill, both 247sports Top 100 players. The future is bright, but that doesn't mean it's bright next season per say.
It's a new era in more ways than one in the Twin Cities as the other UofM welcomes a new head coach with a famous last name in Richard Pitino and will now live life without Rodney Williams and Trevor Mbakwe. In Pitino's style it would've been helluva a lot of fun to see Williams play, but this team next year is all about the Hollins' and setting the tone going forward. Expecting an NCAA tournament birth may be too much though as there are a lot of holes and a lot of restocking of the roster in Pitino's image to be done.
It's back-to-back new era's here on our WAY TOO EARLY predictions, with the Wildcats welcoming another famous last name into the B1G fold as Chris Collins, son of NBA coach Doug Collins, takes over in Evanston. He's already improved things by keeping Drew Crawford from leaving the school and thus the program for next season – his final year of eligibility. That alone does wonders to a team still searching for it's 1st ever NCAA Tournament appearance. It may not come next season, but the word on the recruiting trail is that Collins has hit the ground running & has pulled no punches about embracing what Northwestern has to offer. Give him a year and this team could be really interesting to watch.
11. Penn State
Penn State normally would be the sleeper of sleeper teams in any other league with all of the returning talent on hand in the form of the top 3 returning scorers in the Big Ten. So, get used to names like Jermaine Marshall, D.J. Newbill, and Tim Frazier dotting the top of the scoring charts, but for all the offensive talent there's not much in the way of defense on this team and that could be the thing that holds them back the most in another loaded season in the Big Ten.
Tim Miles did an amazing job keeping his team competitive and out of the cellar this past season, however that was with Brandon Ubel and Dylan Talley on the roster. They are gone and with it come serious questions as to who is going to fill their scoring shoes, after all the pair combined for 34.2ppg and all. There will be a lot of pressure on Ray Gallegos who already was the 2nd leading scorer on this team. One name to look out for next season is incoming freshman small forward Nick Fuller, who was a Top 175 recruit according to 247sports. Outside of those two it'll be interesting to see how this team shapes up entering next season to say the least.