The 2014 Big Ten season was a memorable one. Three Big Ten teams advanced to the Elite Eight, Wisconsin became the fourth Big Ten school in five years to advance to the Final Four, Nebraska basketball enjoyed its best season in 15 years and earned their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1998 and Minnesota and Northwestern showed promise under their new young coaches.
Pete Rossman of the Michigan State Blog The Only Colors did a consensus really early top 25 from nine different blog rankings. Those together produced 39 teams. Eight of the Big Ten's 14 teams were represented including Big Ten newcomer Maryland. As with most top 25's Rossman gave 25 points for first 24 for second and so on down to one point for 25th. Here's a look at where the Big Ten Teams landed. Gary Parrish of CBSSports.Com did a good job previewing each team's likely returnees, losses and recruiting class.
Wisconsin (30-8, 12-6 Big Ten, Tied for 2nd in Big Ten)
The Badgers had one of their best seasons ever and finally reached a Final Four under Bo Ryan. Using Rossman's rankings, the Badgers finished with a 23.2, less than a point behind top ranked Arizona and second ranked Duke.
They only lose swingman Ben Brust. Frank Kaminsky should be the Big Ten's pre-season player of the year and a Naismith and Wooden Candidate.
Bo Ryan's most recent team was more offensive oriented then defensive oriented. The Badgers were sixth in the country in Assist to Turnover ratio, 24th in free throw percentage and 15th in three point attempts.
Kaminsky's improvement from his sophomore to his junior season was meteoric. The seven footer from suburban Chicago posted career highs across the board. He became a dominant presence beginning with the Badgers commencing with their loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament semifinal.
The Sports Lists examined Kaminsky in a profile of the Final Four teams connections to Chicago.
He scored at least 19 points in four of the Badgers last five games. Beginning with the loss to MSU, Kaminsky has averaged 20.4 PPG, 5.2 RPG and 1.6 BPG and is shooting 54.9 percent from the floor. Kaminsky's run through the West Region culminated with him being named the Region's most outstanding player.
Wisconsin also welcome back All-America candidate Sam Dekker, forward Nigel Hayes (who should replace Brust in the starting lineup) and point guard Treyvon Jackson.
Michigan (28-9, 15-3, Big Ten Champions)
A year after finishing as the national runner up and losing stars Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. to the NBA, John Beilein led Michigan to the Big Ten title. It was the Wolverines first outright conference title since 1986 and they came within a game of making their first back to back Final Four trips since the Fab Five did so in 1992 and 1993. The Wolverines 12 point average places them 14th in the consensus rankings.
Beilein earned Big Ten Coach of the Year and Ni Stauskas was the B1G player of the year. Stauskas is likely to jump the NBA, Center Mitch McGary who missed the entire season is still deciding and Josh Morgan graduates. According to MLive.Com's Brendan F. Quinn, Stauskas, McGary and Glenn Robinson III, have all filed for an NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee evaluation. Quinn states the evaluation " is offered by the NBA to provide potential early entries to the NBA draft with hard information regarding their standing as professional prospects."
Even with any or all of those losses, Beilein has Michigan poised for their best run since the Steve Fisher era.
Robinson is expected to return. GRIII, Caris LeVert, Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin give Beilein a great place to start.
The Wolverines were the arguably the Big Ten's best offensive team in 2014. They completed the team trifecta by leading the Big Ten in field goal percentage, free throw percentage and three point percentage.
Ohio State (25-10, 10-8, 5th)
The Buckeyes had a disappointing season. The Buckeyes were picked for third but finished fifth and were upset by in-state rival Dayton in their first NCAA Tournament game.
Thad Matta suffered significant losses with LaQuinton Ross, Amedeo Della Valle, Aaron Craft, Lenzelle Smith all leaving Columbus. Ross and Della Valle decided to leave school to persue professional careers and Craft and Smith using up their eligibility.
Shannon Scott, Sam Thompson, Amir Williams lead the returnees. Matta welcomes a stellar recruiting class and Temple tranfer Malcolm Lee will Matta an inside presence on both ends.
Three of the Buckeyes recruits are in the top ten in the class of 2014 at their position. The class is led by D'Angelo Russell, the nation's top ranked shooting guard. Lee averaged 13.8 PPG and 8.6 RPG with the Owls last season.
The Buckeyes rank 21st and had a 5.3 in the 2015 consensus rankings.
Michigan State (29-9, 12-6, 3rd)
After beginning the year in the top five nationally and being the overwhelming favorite for the Big Ten title, the Spartans stumbled during the season. Injuries in the middle of the season derailed the Izzones. Adreian Payne and Gary Harris missed time with injuries and Keith Appling had to play through some.
Denzel Valentine, Travis Trice, Branden Dawson lead Izzo's returnees. Dawson and Trice should take over the leadership roles as seniors. Point Guard Lourawls "Tum Tum" Nairn leads the recruiting class. Nairn is lightening quick. Opponents have to be cognizant of where he is, otherwise "you'll never find" him.
Dawson has shown the ability to take games over. In back to back tournament wins over Harvard and Virginia he scored 50 points and pulled down 19 rebounds. He should be Kaminsky's biggest challenger for Big Ten Poy next season.
MSU sits one spot behind Ohio State at 22nd for 2015 and accumulated an average of 5.1 points.
Payne and Appling graduate and Harris declared for the NBA.
Nebraska (19-13, 11-7, 4th)
Nebraska is two slots lower than the Spartans at 24 with a 4.0 average. Tim Miles has become a folk hero in Lincoln with the job he did this year. The Huskers fourth place finish in the Big Ten was their best ever and they made their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1998.
The Cornhuskers lose only one significant player of note, Ray Gallegos. They return first team all Big Ten G-F Terran Pettaway and Big Ten honorable mention Shavon Shields.
Miles received coach of the year and Nebraska reached its seventh NCAA Tournament. The only thing left to accomplish is to get the school's first NCAA Tournament win.
Iowa (20-13. 9-9, 6th)
After beginning the season 19-6 and 8-4 in the Big Ten, Iowa collapsed down the stretch. The Hawkeyes lost five of their last six regular season games. They closed out the season with a loss to Northwestern in the Big Ten Tournament and were ousted by Tennessee in the NCAA Tournament first four.
An offense that averaged 81.5 PPG on the season, but only 63.3 in the final three games. Their only win in the last seven was against last place Purdue.
The Hawkeyes are 29th in the consensus rankings with an average of 2.2.
First team All Big-Ten Roy Devyn Marble and the Hawkeyes second leading rebounder Melsahn Basabe both graduate.
Forward Aaron White should be the focal point of the offense in 2015. White averaged 12.8 PPG in each of the last two seasons and just over six rebounds.
Maryland (17-15, 9-9 ACC, 9th)
The Terrapins have been disappointing for the last few seasons. They haven't made the NCAA tournament since a 2010 second round (32) loss to Michigan State. Their only postseason appearance in the past four years was a semifinal loss to Iowa in the 2013 NIT.
The Terrapins lost three players who announced their transfers yesterday, but return a solid roster. Senior Forward to be Dez Wells was third team all-ACC, rising junior Seth Allen led the Terrapins in assists and was second in scoring to Wells, rising junior Jake Layman and rising senior and Michigan transfer Evan Smotrycz give the Terrapins strength up front.
The Terrapins also bring in a stellar recruiting class. Shooting guard Romelo Trimble is a McDonald's All-American and three other incoming players rank in the top 15 at their position. The Terrapins recruiting class ranks eighth nationally. Maryland should make a strong push for their first NCAA Tournament appearance in five seasons in their first Big Ten season.
Maryland was tied for 29th in the consensus polls with Iowa.
Minnesota (25-13, 8-10, 7th)
The Golden Gophers won the NIT in their first season under Richard Pitino. Star guard Austin Hollins used up his eligibility and forward Malik Smith was also a senior.
The Gopher returnees are led by point diminutive 5'9 point guard DeAndre Mathieu and rising senior guard Andre Hollins.
Minnesota ranked 38th with an average of 0.4 points per poll.
and the rest....
Illinois has the best chance of the non-ranked Big Schools to break through. Illinois loses only role players Jon Ekey and Joseph Bertrand.
Shooting guard Ravonte Rice and point guard Tracy Abrams return. Rice should make a push for the Big Ten's First Team. He averaged 15.9 PPG and 6.0 RPG. Illinois also adds Leron Black. He is listed and the 11th best power forward in the class of 2014.
After back to back Sweet 16 appearances and a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament in 2013, Tom Crean wasn't even able to get his team into the NIT in 2014.
Indiana lost home games this season to Notre Dame, Illinois, Northwestern and Penn State. None of them qualified for the NCAA tournament.
A year after losing Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller early to the NBA, center Noah Vonleh is also departing early. Will Sheehey graduates, making it two key players to replace for the second year in a row.
Point Guard Yogi Farrell averaged 17.3 PPG and had a 1.48 assist to turnover ratio. Freshman forward Troy Williams also showed promise.
Recruits James Blackmon jr and Robert Johnson are the fifth and tenth ranked shooting guards in the class of 2014.
Northwestern showed promise in Chris Collins first season. They lose Drew Crawford, but bring back everyone else of significance and the best recruiting class in school history. Small forward Victor Law and shooting guard Bryant McIntosh lead a deep class.
Tre' Demps and JerShon Cobb should be able to replace Crawford together and point guard David Sobolewski needs to have a bounce back season. Center Alex Olah improved significantly over his freshman season. Olah seems better suited to Collins' offense than he was in the Carmody preferred Princeton offense.
Penn State started the season 6-1, struggled once they got into Big Ten played and then had some big win later in the season. They lose do everything guard Tim Frazier and back up guard Allen Roberts. Frazier was third team all Big Ten and shooting guard D.J. Newbill was second team all conference. The addition of incoming freshman Shep Garner should continue to give the Nittany Lions a strong backcourt.
After a win over Hampton, Penn State was eliminated from the College Basketball Invitational by Siena in the second round. In three seasons in Happy Valley, Patrick Chambers is just 38-59, 12-42 in the Big Ten. Without a winning season, next year could be a critical one for the Boston University Head Man.
Rutgers enters its first Big Ten season without a winning season since 2006. That was also their last postseason appearance. The 2006 season capped five NIT appearances in eight seasons. They haven't won a postseason game since finishing runner-up in the 2004 NIT. Rutgers has not been to the NCAA Tournament since 1991 and they haven't won a tournament game since 1983.
With three of their previous four coaches fired because of scandals, Eddie Jordan should bring some stability to Piscataway. Jordan is a former NBA coach and Rutgers alum. Jordan earned the East Regional MVP in 1976 to lead the Scarlet Knights to their only Final Four appearance.
Rutgers loses forwards Wally Judge and JJ Moore, but brings back its two leading scorers center Kadeem Jack and point guard Myles Mack. The Scarlet Knights finished 11-20 5-13 in their only year in the American Athletic Conference.
Center Ibrahim Diallo is Rutgers recruit of note. He is the 27th ranked center in the class of 2014.