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2015-16 Big Ten Conference NCAA College Basketball Predictions and Preview

2015-16 Big Ten Conference NCAA College Basketball Predictions and Preview

Many college basketball analysts expect the Big Ten to see a significant drop-off in talent this season mainly because of the departures of big names like Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker. However, looking closer at the conference, there’s still plenty of returning talent and a crop of freshmen across the conference’s top contenders to keep scouts and fans alike on the edge of their seats.

As such, let’s review in brief detail what we could expect from each of the 14 teams in the Big Ten. Afterwards, you may also want to check out our previews for the other two literally huge NCAA conferences in the Big 12 and the Big East after this.

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2015-16 NCAA Season Big Ten Conference Preview

Wisconsin Badgers

Wisconsin Hayes Koenig

2014 Record: 16-2

Predicted Record: 9-9

[sc:NCAAB240banner ]Head coach Bo Ryan has his work cut out for him as he deals with life with no Frank Kaminsky or Sam Dekker to lean on this upcoming campaign. The pressure will now be on junior forward Nigel Hayes and point guard Bronson Koenig to try and give their long-time mentor his 15th-consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament as Wisconsin’s head coach. But as it stands, the team is still clearly lacking depth and talent to repeat as Big Ten champs.

Maryland Terrapins

Maryland Trimble

2014 Record: 14-4

Predicted Record: 15-3

Mark Turgeon and his Maryland Terrapins surprised the conference en route to a 14-4 record last year. This season, with Wisconsin’s top players having graduated already, the Terps currently boast the Big Ten’s most stable roster from top to bottom.

Led by sensational sophomore Melo Trimble, Maryland’s strongest suit is its starting backcourt. Trimble will have Jake Layman back on the wings, and the acquisition of Rasheed Sulaimon as a transfer from Duke is also welcome addition. To cap things off, five-star recruit Diamond Stone seems like a solid addition to the Terrapins’ front court – giving the Terrapins that much-needed presence in the paint to complement their guns from the perimeter.

Michigan State Spartans

Michigan State Tom Izzo

2014 Record: 12-6

Predicted Record: 13-5

The Michigan State Spartans no longer have Final Four standouts Travis Trice and Branden Dawson, but they still have the versatile Denzel Valentine, who had an impressive offseason summer tour in Italy to refine his game. Valentine played most of last season at power forward, but he’ll likely be part of Michigan State’s backcourt now to make better use of his wide skill set.

With that said, the Spartans still remain a relatively undersized ball club. But with high school standout Deyonta Davis (20 points and almost a whopping 17 rebounds per contest) projected to start outright at power forward, Michigan State could very well give Tom Izzo even more hardware to his already historic career when all is said and done.

Purdue Boilermakers

Purdue Caleb Swanigan

2014 Record: 12-6

Predicted Record: 13-5

When Caleb Swanigan ditched Michigan State in favor of joining the Purdue Boilermakers, the latter may as well have hit the jackpot. Not only did Purdue manage to recruit the best freshman available, they did so with the added bonus of stealing one from its conference rivals.

The Boilermakers have size, size, and more size. Superstar A.J. Hammons and Issac Haas are already a couple of daunting seven-footers down low. Throw in Swanigan and fellow power forward Vince Edwards into the mix, and we have ourselves the most formidable frontcourt in the Big Ten this season. But could the team’s size be detrimental to rest of the fleet-footed contenders in the conference?

Iowa Hawkeyes

Iowa Jarrod Uthoff

2014 Record: 12-6

Predicted Record: 9-9

Power forward Jarrod Uthoff will be fun to watch this season. The Iowa Hawkeyes’ stretch-four has a unique skill set that’s capable of blocking shots as well as knocking down shots from deep (he led his team last season in blocks and three-pointers last season).

But in spite of the excitement Uthoff brings, the Hawkeyes simply didn’t do well enough to keep up with the rest of their conference rivals’ upgrades. That’s even considering that Iowa is returning with four starters from the previous campaign.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio State Marc Loving

2014 Record: 11-7

Predicted Record: 9-9

Similar to Wisconsin, the Ohio State Buckeyes are in the unfortunate position of dealing with life after losing a superstar. With DeAngelo Russell now playing professionally for the Lakers, who will be the team’s new go-to guy?

The Buckeyes have a terrific trio of sophomores in Kam Williams, Jae’Sean Tate and Keita Bates-Diop, but neither of them stands out right now as Russell’s replacement. Junior power forward Marc Loving may need to do a lot of the heavy-lifting too, seeing that he doesn’t have a fine running mate in the post to give Ohio State a true contender’s lineup for the conference title.

Indiana Hoosiers

Indiana Yogi Ferrell

2014 Record: 9-9

Predicted Record: 11-7

What the Indiana Hoosiers lack on defense, they more than make up for with a rather frightening offense. Point Guard Yogi Ferrell is arguably the best player in the entire conference, and he’ll once again be accompanied by sharpshooters Troy Williams and James Blackmon Jr. to put up some huge numbers each and every game.

The Hoosiers were the top team in the conference in scoring offense last season, but were also the worst in scoring defense at the same time (which is befitting of their 9-9 record). But this year, head coach Tom Crean may have finally found his post protector in freshman Thomas Bryant to show some semblance that his team can really defend just as well as it attacks.

Illinois Fighting Illini

Illinois Malcolm Hill

2014 Record: 9-9

Predicted Record: 8-10

Outside of stellar shooting guard Malcolm Hill, the Illinois Fighting Illini have virtually no other reliable weapon on offense. Hill’s propensity to score 20 points per contest will only get the team so far.

Still, Illinois has a pair of big men in Mike Thorne and Leron Black enforcing the paint. However, the team is in dire need of more firepower. Expect the Fighting Illini to remain in the middle of the Big Ten pack yet again.

Michigan Wolverines

Michigan Caris Levert

2014 Record: 8-10

Predicted Record: 10-8

The Michigan Wolverines’ promising 2014-15 run came to an abrupt end the moment Caris LeVert re-injured his foot in January. The injury bug soon caught on with the rest of the team, ultimately giving Michigan a losing record by the end of the season.

The Wolverines were solid contenders for the NCAA tournament before those injuries, and they’re certainly back in the hunt with the team at full-strength entering this season. However, the loss of momentum and chemistry from all those setbacks from the previous campaign will likely see the team fall out of the Big Ten title hunt.

Northwestern Wildcats

Northwestern Demps McIntosh

2014 Record: 6-12

Predicted Record: 6-12

Out of all the Wildcats in the NCAA, don’t expect the Northwestern Wildcats to be one of those ferocious felines to make it to the tournament. The duo of Try Demps and Bryant McIntosh will push fellow conference rivals to the limit with their perimeter play, but like the succeeding teams found on this list, Northwestern will not be a part of the Big Ten’s bigger picture.

Minnesota Golden Gophers

Minnesota Bakary Konate

2014 Record: 6-12

Predicted Record: 5-13

The brunt of the Minnesota Golden Gophers’ season hinges on the development of Bakary Konate. The junior center will need to excel above and beyond the level of the likes of Purdue’s big men to give his team some much-needed spark. But even then, Konate doesn’t have enough support outside of the painted area for Minnesota to challenge any of the top-tier Big Ten powerhouses.

Nebraska Cornhuskers

Nebraska Tim Miles

2014 Record: 5-13

Predicted Record: 3-15

“Nebrasketball” quickly became a thing of the past when the Nebraska Cornhuskers finished with a disappointing five-win conference record last year after making the NCAA tournament in 2014 for the first time since 1998.

Head coach Tim Miles’ fourth season in Nebraska could very well be his last if his boys continue to sputter. And with non-conference games against Villanova, Cincinnati and Miami on tap this season, it might be better for the folks in Lincoln to just go back to cheering for the other Cornhusker team that’s faring much better on the gridiron.

Penn State Nittany Lions

Penn State Shep Garner      

2014 Record: 4-14

Predicted Record: 5-13

Lots of freshmen mean lots of “ifs”. The Penn State Nittany Lions are replete with young talent like Mike Watkins and Josh Reaves, but experience winsover all in college basketball.

Point guard Shep Garner can be relied on as an every-game starter, but his shooting stroke (36 percent from the field last season) is killing his team. If he turns into more of a playmaker rather than the Nittany Lions’ top scoring option, the future of the team looks bright. Still, no title dreams will come to fruition for Penn State yet this season.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Rutgers Eddie Jordan

2014 Record: 2-16

Predicted Record: 1-17

Two inter-conference wins is not something to brag about, as the Rutgers Scarlet Knights would attest. And with no headline-grabbing returning starters, recruits or transfers, it looks to be another long – if not even longer – season for head coach Eddie Jordan and his Scarlet Knights at the cellar of the Big Ten’s standings.

Create a betting account now to cash in on all the upcoming action from the Big Ten and all your favorite teams from the NCAA’s renewed season of college basketball.

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Mark
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