The Big Ten is one of the best conferences in college basketball. The amount of talent that each team has is off the charts, and the Big Ten sent seven teams to last year's NCAA tournament. The Wisconsin Badgers were clearly the best team in the Big Ten last season, they had two losses in conference play, and only four as a whole after they lost in the national championship game to Duke.
For this upcoming season, the favorite to win the Big Ten will be the Maryland Terrapins, and not far behind them will be the Michigan State Spartans. After Maryland and Michigan State, there will be a battle for the next couple spots. There were five teams ranked in the preseason USA Today Top 25, including Maryland at No. 3 (had five first place votes), Michigan State at No. 13, Indiana at No. 15, Wisconsin at No. 17, and Purdue at No. 24. Michigan just missed the preseason top 25 as well (note: they did, however, make the AP Poll). This year's Big Ten is up for grabs, but what teams are going to fight for the title?
Honestly, Maryland's roster from top to bottom is one of the best rosters in the country. They have everything from one of the best floor generals in the country, to highly efficient scoring and shooting on the wings, to a very talented freshmen center. Melo Trimble is arguably the best player in the Big Ten and he is only a sophomore, while freshmen Diamond Stone could be the best big man in the Big Ten. The team also added Rasheed Suliamon, and Robert Carter (who sat out last season due to eligibility rules), both of these players will play big minutes for the team this season.
Trimble, Stone, and Layman can lead this team to a Big Ten title next year, and maybe even a national title. The team will be tested early in the year against non-conference powerhouse North Carolina in Chapel Hill and UConn, but other than that, the Terrapins will not be tested until Big Ten play.
Michigan State's Year?
Coach Tom Izzo and company are no stranger to being a preseason favorite and Michigan State is certainly no stranger to to the spotlight. The team made the Final Four last season, even though the team lost 12 games last year. The Spartans lost Branden Dawson and Travis Trice from last year's Final Four team, but the Spartans added some impactful freshmen recruits, and the team still has Denzel Valentine, who is one of the best players in the Big Ten. Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid are the two very talented freshmen that are going to help out on both ends of the floor for the Spartans right away.
Michigan State faces Maryland at home on Jan. 23, and the winner of that game could decide who is the best team in the Big Ten. The Spartans will be tested by Kansas and Louisville early in the year, but like Maryland, the team will have an easy stretch after that until Big Ten play.
Honestly, it is going to be hard to argue that any team other than Maryland or Michigan State will win the Big Ten, but there are a few teams that have the potential to make some noise. Take Indiana for example, they have a stacked roster with Yogi Ferrel, James Blackmon Jr., Troy Williams, and big time freshmen Thomas Bryant. The Hoosiers have a lot of star-power, but they have never seemed to get it done during the regular season and in Big Ten play. They went 9-9 during conference play, which is quite disappointing and they lost 14 games last season. If any year is going to be the Hoosiers year to shine in the Big Ten, it is going to be this year. They have depth, experience, elite athleticism, and multiple players that can takeover games.
Wisconsin is a team that always makes its way into the discussion for best team in the Big Ten, but this year, Wisconsin will not be the top team in the Big Ten. They lost their two primary offensive weapons, and did not add many big recruits. Nigel Hayes will be asked to do a lot for the team next year, as will Bronson Koenig. Watch for Wisconsin to not be in the top tier of the Big Ten next season (Wisconsin fans are not going to be happy).
There are not going to be many teams other than Maryland and Michigan State competing for the Big Ten crown. Indiana will be around, but this is the year of the Terrapin and the Spartan. Maryland and Michigan State have everything they need to run the table in the Big Ten, and make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
Maryland and Michigan State are two of the best teams in the country and both teams have an equal shot to win the Big Ten.