We're counting down from six to one today. To see numbers twelve through seven, check out Part 1. As with Part 1, we will hedge our bets by saying why each team might do better or worse than our prediction.
Why they will finish 6th: Addition by subtraction. The Illini lose three seniors who have been a part of teams that have underachieved. Bringing in some fresh and talented newcomers will help get this program headed in the right direction.
Why they will finish higher: The four incoming freshman all ranked in the top 100 in most lists: Tracy Abrams, Mike Shaw, Myke Henry and Nnanna Egwu. Sam Maniscalco (PG transfer from Bradley), Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson will provide some experience to help the newcomers.
Why they will finish lower: If the freshman aren't ready to play at a high level, the loss of McCamey, Tisdale and Davis will be tough to overcome.
Why they will finish 5th: Although they lost Darius Morris from last year's squad, Michigan has enough returning players and some promising freshmen that should keep them in the top half of the conference.
Why they will finish higher: The Wolerines finished last season with a great run, and Ohio Mr. Basketball Trey Burke should fill in nicely for Morris. Most of the other top teams from last season have lost more players than Michigan.
Why they will finish lower: If Burke doesn't start playing well immediately, Michigan might struggle to find someone to fill the point guard position.
4. Michigan State
Why they will finish 4th: They lost Delvin Roe, Kalin Lucas, Durrell Summers, Korie Lucious and Garrick Sherman, but gainig Brandon Wood from Valpo and freshman Branden Dawson should be help fill the void.
Why they will finish lower: Even with all of their talent last year, MSU finished the conference at 9-9. It will take an improvement on that mark to finish in the upper tier of the conference. If things don't work out with all of the new players, it might be another rough year for the Spartans.
Why they will finish 3rd: After sitting out more than a whole season with ACL injuries, Robbie Hummel is back and seems to be healthy. Even though the Boilers lost their two leading scorers, Matt Painter teams have consistently fared well in conference play.
Why they will finish higher: If one of the two freshman (Donnie Hale and Jacob Lawson) turn out to be the second-coming of Hummel, and Ryne Smith turns into a better-defending Jon Diebler, then Purdue could challenge for one of the top two spots.
Why they will finish lower: JaJaun Johnson and E'Twaun Moore graduated last year, and their scoring and defense will be too hard to replace.
Why they will finish 2nd: The Badgers always finish near the top of the conference standings, and Jordan Taylor, one of the best players in the conference, will be back to lead them.
Why they will finish higher: If Jared Sullinger misses time due to injury, the top spot in the conference may be a free-for-all. Wisconsin would be one of the favorites to take advantage.
1. Ohio State
Why they will finish 1st: Jared Sullinger, Aaron Craft, William Buford and Deshaun Thomas are back. They will have help in the form of highly touted recruits Shannon Scott and Amir Williams. The Buckeyes are heavy favorites to defend their Big Ten Championship.
Why they will finish lower: If Deshaun Thomas hasn't improved over the offseason, and the new guys don't pan out, OSU will have trouble winning away from home. Add in the fact that every other team will be gunning for them might make it hard for Ohio State to repeat.