Look ahead to 2017-18 men’s basketball season: Story to watch
With the 2016-17 season in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to take a way-too-early look at the 2017-18 season.
Today’s topic: Story to watch.
Get the BTN team’s answers below.
What type of impact will new Indiana coach Archie Miller have? He takes over for Tom Crean, who was fired after nine seasons in Bloomington. Miller is a rising star in the coaching ranks who made Dayton one of the nation’s top non-Power Five programs, taking the Flyers to the Elite Eight in 2014. Can the 38-year-old make the Hoosiers great again? IU hasn’t been to the Final Four since 2002 or won the national title since 1987. Some fans wanted a bigger, more proven name (hello, Steve Alford), but Miller is the man. The pressure will be big. – BTN.com’s Tom Dienhart
Impact of the coaching changes at Illinois and Indiana. The new hires bring a good track record to their new schools and will help install an identity, especially defensively. – BTN analyst Shon Morris
Iowa. The Hawkeyes lose star shooting guard Peter Jok, but Iowa’s younger players, led by Jordan Bohannon and Tyler Cook, managed to play extremely well this season when Jok was injured. Late road wins at Maryland and Wisconsin proved Iowa has the toughness to win big games. – BTN analyst Jess Settles
The new guys on the block. Two schools that used to regularly finish at the top of the Big Ten standings—Indiana as recently as last season and Illinois in the previous decade—fired their coaches and replaced them with very well-received hires in the last couple of weeks. Both programs had very disappointing seasons in 2016-17 and have anxious fan bases, but both have pieces in place to make quick turnarounds if executed correctly. If Brad Underwood’s and Archie Miller’s coaching chops translate to the Big Ten like many experts expect them to, the Illini and Hoosiers could soon be battling top Big Ten teams (and each other) for conference supremacy. Even without instant success, the transitions in Champaign and Bloomington will definitely be worth following. – BTN.com’s Alex Roux
Wisconsin’s immediate future. Everyone knows that Wisconsin has long streaks of finishing fourth or better in the Big Ten (16 years) and making the NCAA tourney (19 straight). Both of those could be in jeopardy in 2017-18, what with the departure of the program’s most decorated senior class, headlined by Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig. Star Ethan Happ will be back, which is huge, but he and the Badgers will need several players to break out in order to keep Wisconsin’s streaks intact. All of that said, we’ve learned to never doubt Wisconsin. – BTN.com’s Brent Yarina