With the college basketball season officially starting later this week, BTPowerhouse returns with its first set of Big Ten power rankings heading into the season. The conference appears to be set for an exciting year with six teams being ranked in the preseason AP Poll and top 25 preseason KenPom rankings. As such, the Big Ten power rankings could be even more contested this year than the past few seasons.
The BTPowerhouse Power Rankings is composed of votes from 45 writers that cover the Big Ten and three statistical measures (BPI, KenPom, RPI). This voting group is composed of BTPowerhouse's staff, 15 writers from SBNation's other Big Ten related sites, Steve Lorenz, Luke Srodulski, Josh Stephens, and Mike Wilson from 247Sports, Brendan Brody of Rush The Court, Alex Cook from MGoBlog, Andrew Kulha from Today's U, Shawn O'Neal from Lindy Sports, and Jim Weber from Lost Lettermen. (Not all writers participated in each set of rankings).
With that, here are BTPowerhouse's preseason Big Ten power rankings.
Big Ten Preseason Power Rankings
#1 - Maryland Terrapins (343 Points)
Maryland is officially the preseason favorite according to BTPowerhouse's voters. After putting together a surprising 28-7 record last season, the Terps return most of the team's contributors from last season and are adding one of the best group of newcomers in the conference. By just about any measure, this is the most loaded roster in the conference and the voters seemed to agree, giving Maryland a pretty big lead.
The Terps will likely be led by do-it-all sophomore guard Melo Trimble. Last season, Trimble averaged 16.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game. Along with Trimble, most expect Jake Layman to make a tremendous impact on the wing and newcomers Robert Carter and Diamond Stone to play well upfront. There will be some depth concerns in the backcourt and some questions about how much Maryland can improve, but this looks like the class of the Big Ten.
#2 - Michigan State Spartans (306 Points)
The Spartans were likely the Big Ten's most surprising team in the NCAA Tournament last year as Michigan State found its way back to the Final Four for the first time since 2010. Now, the team returns some of its biggest contributors and adds some of the conference's best newcomers. Michigan State will have some questions about replacing Branden Dawson and Travis Trice, but this could actually be a more talented and deeper team than last year.
This key piece on this year's Michigan State team appears to be Denzel Valentine. He was arguably Michigan State's best player last season and has been getting high praise all offseason. Along with Valentine, the Spartans will hope that incoming transfer Eron Harris and incoming recruit Deyonta Davis can grab significant roles early on and lead Michigan State back to a deep postseason run.
#3 - Indiana Hoosiers (302 Points)
The Hoosiers may not have finished last season on a high note, but return the vast majority of the team's contributors and should have one of the more dangerous lineups in the conference. Indiana has perhaps the Big Ten's best backcourt and will hope that newcomers Thomas Bryant and Max Bielfeldt can make a difference in a frontcourt that was rather underwhelming last season.
The two players that will look to lead Indiana this season will be Yogi Ferrell and James Blackmon. Both players could legitimately be in the running for All-Big Ten status this season and should be some of the best offensive players in the conference. The question will be whether the frontcourt can be good enough to allow the backcourt to carry the Hoosiers to the top of the Big Ten.
#4 - Purdue Boilermakers (266 Points)
The Boilermakers could be one of the most intriguing teams in the country this season. After a horrendous start to last season, Purdue was able to put together an impressive run in conference play and get back to the NCAA Tournament. Now, with large portion of last year's team returning, most are expecting Purdue to build on last year's success.
Everything for Purdue will start upfront this season. The Boilermakers return AJ Hammons at center, have one of the best backup big men in the country in Isaac Haas, and add an elite prospect in Caleb Swanigan. There are questions about how Purdue will spread the floor this year, but this looks like one of the more loaded roster in the conference.
#5 - Michigan Wolverines (254 Points)
The Wolverines come in at No. 5 in this year's BTPowerhouse preseason rankings after having one of the more underwhelming seasons in the conference last year. However, with the return of Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton from injury and a deeper and more experienced roster than a year ago, the Wolverines appear to be a much better team. The frontcourt will still have plenty of question marks, but look for a much better team this year in Ann Arbor.
#6 - Wisconsin Badgers (253 Points)
The Badgers were pretty easily the Big Ten's best team a year ago. However, despite the program's remarkable success over the last few seasons, Wisconsin is losing quite a bit from last year's roster. In fact, the only two proven returning contributors are Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig. There will be a lot of questions in the frontcourt this year for Wisconsin, but given Bo Ryan's past success and a talented incoming recruiting class, most expect the Badgers to still be in NCAA Tournament consideration this season.
#7 - Ohio State Buckeyes (187 Points)
The Buckeyes have seen quite a few departures over the last few seasons and last offseason was no expcetion. Ohio State is set to be one of the youngest and most inexperienced teams in the Big Ten this season, but will also be one of the more talented teams. Incoming recruit JaQuan Lyle is expected to be the team's primary backcourt option and returners like Keita Bates-Diop and Jae'Sean Tate are expected to make significant impacts on the wing and in the frontcourt. It might be a "transitional year" in Columbus, but could still be a good one.
#8 - Iowa Hawkeyes (186 Points)
The Hawkeyes are in the midst of one of the better runs in recent program history. Nonetheless, with the loss of Aaron White and a few other key contributors this offseason, there are plenty of questions about this Iowa team. The Hawkeyes are going to have to hope that returners Mike Gesell, Peter Jok, and Jarrod Uthoff can elevate their games this season if Iowa is going to remain one of the better teams in the conference. The question will be if the Hawkeyes can get enough out of its newcomers on the wing and upfront to allow the team to compete with the top Big Ten teams.
#9 - Northwestern Wildcats (135 Points)
By now, Northwestern's curse has become well known. The Wildcats have never made the NCAA Tournament and yet again, the preseason question is whether Northwestern can finally change that history. However, this might finally be the year that this isn't just preseason talk. This team actually has the goods to get the job done.
With the return of Alex Olah in the frontcourt and Bryant McIntosh in the backcourt, the Wildcats have two players who are set to be some of the better players in the conference. Along with these two, Northwestern has a lot of young talent from players like Aaron Falzon and Vic Law that could take a step forward. Many are curious about how much better this team can get, but this might finally be the year in Evanston.
#10 - Illinois Fighting Illini (133 Points)
The Illini have potential been the unluckiest team in the Big Ten over the last few years. It's been a serious of unfortunate injuries, offseason troubles, and recruiting misses that have really taken a toll on Illinois. Nonetheless, the pressure will be on head coach John Groce to get his team back in this year's NCAA Tournament and back to national relevance in the Big Ten.
Now, Illinois will hope that returners like Malcolm Hill and Kendrick Nunn can lead the team this season. Along with this, newcomers like Jalen Coleman-Lands and Mike Thorne are set to have significant roles this season. The point guard position will be a huge question mark, but this does look like a talented team.
#11 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (94 Points)
The Gophers were one of the more disappointing teams in the conference last season and now with the exit of players like Andre Hollins and Deandre Mathieu, will have more work cut out this year. Returners like Joey King, Nate Mason, and Carlos Morris could be set for big years, but the frontcourt depth issues and lack of experience could hold Minnesota back from reaching its goals this year.
#12 - Penn State Nittany Lions (78 Points)
The Nittany Lions had a great start to last season, but faded during Big Ten play and finished with just a 18-16 overall record. Now, with the loss of DJ Newbill, there will be even more question marks coming into this season. Shep Garner should be set for a big season for the Nittany Lions, but it will be on newcomers like Josh Reaves and Mike Watkins to make early impacts this season if Penn State will be competitive in the Big Ten.
#13 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (78 Points)
Last season was an extremely disappointing one in Lincoln. After putting together one of the best seasons in decades, most had high hopes for the Cornhuskers. However, the team could never live up to the hype and is now faced with replacing key players like Terran Petteway and Walter Pitchford. The good news is that Shavon Shields is back and Nebraska is bringing in several key newcomers like Glynn Watson and Andrew White. Unfortunately, the depth and frontcourt issues could override these returns and additions and hold the Huskers back this year.
#14 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (25 Points)
The Scarlet Knights were not a great team last season. The team went just 10-22 and finished dead last in the Big Ten. Nonetheless, fans are hopeful that this year can be different. With the return of players like Mike Williams and the additions of players like Deshawn Freeman and Corey Sanders, there is hope. However, this still looks like a team that is a few years away from being a legitimate Big Ten contender.