In a recent update we looked at a couple of the most successful conference teams last season, but now we're breaking down the sub-par or less than average teams within the conference. Of these teams which ones will reap the benefits of their 2016 recruiting class in hopes of making an improvement this season?
Let's start out with the Hawkeyes. After a phenomenal 2014-15 where they saw themselves in second place, apart of the Big Ten hierarchy, they then endured the biggest decrease during the 2015-16 season dropping to ninth place. On the 2016 recruiting trail they had a total of five commits and three of them in the ESPNW's top 100. Head Coach Lisa Bluder is returning a majority of her team and the new additions in this strong recruiting class, led by point guard Makenzie Meyer and forward Amanda Ollinger, will have Iowa showcasing great depth. This depth should propel Bluder and her team in making an improvement from their 8-10 big ten record.
The Wildcats had a tumultuous 4-14 record within the conference last season, but a quarterfinals appearance in the Big Ten Tournament showed what this team could become. Though senior Maggie Lyon, a top 15 scorer in the conference, is departing, they will return three of the conference's top 30 scorers including Ashley Dreary and top five scorer Nia Coffey. Their 2016 recruiting class consists of four commits, two of which, Abi Scheid and Abbie Wolf, are in the ESPN 100. After their 4-14 conference record and a strong performance in the Big Ten Tournament last season there's nowhere to go but up for the Wildcats. We'll have to wait and see if this recruiting class contributions can help them rise from the bottom of the Big Ten.
The Wolverines were the epitome of average when it comes to Big Ten play last season, with a 9-9 record in the conference. At 22.1 points per game, top three conference scorer, Katelynn Flaherty returns to lead this team. The Wolverines have four signed commits and two in the ESPN 100. Top rated prospect Kysre Gondrezick will be the much needed backcourt running mate alongside Flaherty, whenever she breaks the starting lineup. With only two seniors on the roster heading into the 2016-17 season, they'll have a fairly young team and for head coach Kim Barnes Arico and her staff, they'll need more production from the supporting cast if they look to improve this season. Gondrezick looks like a prospect who could have a hand in some of that production.
Illinois was the worst team in the Big ten last season with a record of 2-16, despite the efforts of top ten scorer Chatrice White (18.7 ppg). With four signed recruits and only one in the ESPN 100, that's a difficult task for the Illini to escape from the bottom of the Big Ten in just one season. This recruiting class might not have an impact right away, but they could be a part of their future for the years to come.