In a season heavily dominated by the Maryland Terrapins and Ohio State Buckeyes, teams look to revamp their rosters in hope of catching the conference favorites. With the 2016 recruiting landscape finished and as freshmen begin heading to their new campuses, what teams have improved or regressed?
You cannot start off discussing Big Ten Women's basketball right now without mentioning the back to back regular season and Big Ten Tournament champions. Though the Terrapins are losing four seniors they're returning two of the conference's top scorers / rebounders in center Brionna Jones and guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough. They also bolstered their team by having one of the best recruiting classes in the nation, signing four recruits in the top 30 of ESPNW's recruiting rankings. Point guard Destiny Slocum is their highest ranked recruit as the number seven prospect and looks like the perfect back-court running mate alongside Walker-Kimbrough.
Head coach Brenda Frese has once again put Maryland in a great position to continue winning.
Ohio State Buckeyes
The Buckeyes return the second leading scorer in the Big Ten in Kelsey Mitchell, but departing is Ameryst Alston, the conference's 11th leading scorer. The Buckeyes are bringing back everyone except Alston and fellow senior Cait Craft. In ESPNW's recruiting rankings the Buckeyes signed three prospects in the top 31; Tori McCoy, Jensen Caretti and Kiara Lewis. Caretti even expressed her excitement on her commit through social media like most athletes do nowadays.
Ohio State bound— Jensen Caretti (@jensencaretti) October 8, 2015
With the new recruits the Buckeyes signed, they have a chance to erase last season's memory of coming in second during the regular season and losing in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals; leading the charge could be their 6-foot-4 recruit in McCoy who could be an immediate contributor.
The last time we saw Michigan State in the Big Ten they were finishing third in the regular season and losing to Maryland in the Tournament Championship game. They are the one team that has the chance to usurp the two teams above after the success they experienced last season. They signed three new recruits in the ESPN 100, but not one of them broke the top 35. The main question for the Spartans throughout this season will be did they do enough with these signings and if Mardrieka Cook, Taryn McCutcheon and Nia Hollie can help the Spartans catch the other two teams?
The Boilermakers 2016 recruiting class is a deep one, bolstering two ESPN 100 recruits and four other prospects. This culmination of recruits might not have an immediate impact, but as the season progresses they can bring much needed depth. Leading scorer April Wilson (14.5 ppg) is no longer there and the returning second leading scorer Ashley Morrissette averaged only 13 points per game. Head coach Sharon Versyp didn't lure in a prized recruiting class and though she's had NCAA Tournament success, only time will tell if this crop of recruits can help Purdue compete with the Big Ten elites.
As of right now not much has changed within the landscape of the conference, but as the season inches closer the 2016 recruits can change this narrative.