College basketball season is almost here!
Between now and Nov. 7th, we’ll take an in-depth look at different conferences around the country.
Today’s focus is on the Big Ten:
1. Has there been a passage in the Big Ten?
Without question. 15 of the Big Ten’s Top 20 scorers from a year ago are gone. The conference’s top returning scoring guard is Northwestern’s Boo Buie (14.1 points). There’s more uncertainty than known commodities entering the Big Ten this season and that should make for an incredibly exciting year. Don’t be shocked if the teams that are picked first, second, and third in the league’s preseason poll are flipped with the teams that are picked fourth, fifth, and sixth at the end of the season. It feels like it’s going to be that type of year in the Big Ten.
2. Will Indiana be able to handle expectations?
That’s TBD. The Hoosiers return 90.9 percent of their scoring from last season, headlined by All-American big man Trayce Jackson-Davis (18.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.3 blocks). Indiana also added a pair of five-star freshmen in Jalen Hood-Schifino and Malik Reneau. Can the Hoosiers quickly adapt to being the biggest game on each opponent’s schedule just one year after it finished ninth in the conference and started the NCAA Tournament in the First Four? It’s going to be a process. Mike Woodson took a major step in his first season as Indiana’s head coach by leading his alma mater to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016. His second season will be evaluated on whether or not this program can compete for a Big Ten regular season title and have a chance to win multiple games in the 2023 NCAA Tournament.
3. How big of a jump will Zach Edey make for Purdue?
It all depends on how many minutes he plays. The 7-4, 295 pound big man averaged 14.4 points and 7.7 rebounds last season in just 19 minutes. Could he play 25 a night now that Trevion Williams is no longer a member of Purdue’s program? Will Edey’s size and physical stature allow him to play that long every game? It’s all stuff that we’re going to find out. Despite the loss of Williams, the Boilers still have a bevy of additional post options aside from Edey in Caleb Furst, Mason Gillis, and redshirt freshman Trey Kauffman-Renn. Nevertheless, if Edey can play a few more minutes each time he takes the floor, averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds as a junior is a real possibility.
4. Is Illinois a mystery team?
It certainly feels that way. For the past three seasons, the Illini had a massive piece in the middle in 7-foot center Kofi Cockburn. Now, they’re aiming to put a lineup on the floor that features five interchangeable pieces. Illinois is also counting on four freshmen — Skyy Clark, Jayden Epps, Sencire Harris, Ty Rodgers — and three transfers — Matthew Mayer (Baylor), Dain Dainja (Baylor), and Terrence Shannon Jr. (Texas Tech) — to play significant roles. The Illini’s top returning scorer from last season is 6-10 junior Coleman Hawkins, who averaged 5.9 points and 4.3 rebounds a year ago. It feels like a complete makeover in Champaign. Illinois lost its top five scorers from last year’s team that won a share of the Big Ten regular season title.
5. Who is the sleeper?
Iowa. That may sound weird to say about a team that won the Big Ten Tournament last March and was a two seed in the NCAA Tournament two years ago, but it’s the utmost truth. Despite going a combined 48-19 over the past two seasons, Fran McCaffery’s ability to annually replenish talent still doesn’t get the respect that it deserves. A year ago, Iowa lost Luka Garza, Joe Wieskamp, and CJ Fredrick, but still managed to win the Big Ten Tournament title and earn a five seed in the NCAA Tournament. Don’t be shocked if the Hawkeyes are again in the mix at the top of this conference. Keegan Murray is gone, but the Hawkeyes return five of their top eight scorers from a 26-win team, headlined by Kris Murray (9.7 points, 4.3 rebounds) — the brother of Keegan Murray — who is primed to take a major step. Six other players on Iowa’s roster — Patrick McCaffery, Connor McCaffery, Tony Perkins, Payton Sandfort, Filip Rebraca, Ahron Ulis — return after averaging double figure minutes last season. This program isn’t going anywhere.
- The Breakfast Buffet: Oscar Tshiebwe, Xavier/Creighton, Keyontae Johnson/Florida
- Midseason All-Americans for the 2022-23 season
- The Breakfast Buffet: Xavier begins its massive week at UConn, Jahvon Quinerly, Bryce Hopkins
- The Breakfast Buffet: Kansas State gets a crack at Hilton Coliseum, North Carolina/Syracuse, Trayce Jackson-Davis
- Episode 378 — Xavier’s Sean Miller