Michigan State is the pick to win the Big Ten. Why not? The Spartans teem with talent for a program that went 27-9 last season while advancing to the Sweet 16. There’s Keith Appling, Branden Dawson, Adreian Payne, Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine for a team ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation in some polls. But the hub of all this talent is Gary Harris. How good is the sophomore, who spurned the NBA to return to East Lansing? Listen to Tom Izzo.
Michigan lost key players in Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr., from a team that reached the national title game. But this edition of the Wolverines looks formidable even though it has a combined 33 points to replace with Burke and Hardaway gone. A key guy: Glenn Robinson III.
Iowa is an exciting team that looks primed for a breakout as Fran McCaffery enters his fourth season in Iowa City. “Obviously, we’re very optimistic about this year’s team,” said McCaffery. “Recognize the position we’re in and welcome the challenge. I’ve not had a team in my entire career that is this deep.
Illinois is an interesting team with eight newcomers. Who will be a leader for a team coming off a 23-13 season that won a NCAA game? John Groce is looking to senior Joseph Bertrand, especially as a vocal leader. Among the new faces are three transfers from four-year schools: Rayvonte Rice (Drake); Jon Ekey (Illinois State); Ahmad Starks (Oregon State), though Starks was denied a waiver to play this season.
Today’s Big Ten Basketball Media Day press conferences were streamed live and for free from Chicago on the Big Ten Digital Network. Head into this live blog to watch your Big Ten men’s coach talk to the media.
Purdue and Wisconsin tallied exhibition wins Wednesday night. Terone Johnson scored a team-high 17 points as the Boilermakers edged Indianapolis, 80-73, and Ben Brust poured in a game-high 20 points to send the Badgers past UW-Platteville, 80-51.