By Steve Ungrey on September 1, 2014
With two newcomers this season, the Big Ten will be even more crowded than ever, but it will be just as exciting. Here is a look at the projected order of finish for the Big Ten schools entering the new basketball season.
The addition of two new schools will push this school even further toward the bottom. It managed a 14-19 record a year ago, but the conference is just too strong for Northwestern to overcome its tough schedule.
New Jersey enters the Big Ten this season, but this program has nowhere near the stature of the women's basketball squad and should be a non-factor in its first Big Ten season. Expect the Scarlet Knights to finish near the bottom.
The Boilermakers have hit a cold streak in the Big Ten, and a last-place finish a year ago doesn't bode well for the future. There should be a bit of improvement, but not much, entering the 2014-15 campaign.
Penn State's 6-12 finish in the Big Ten masked a 16-18 overall record, and the Nittany Lions lost four players (three to graduation and one to transfer). The team should recover a bit and maybe finish around .500 overall.
The Fighting Illini went 20-15 a year ago but fell short in the Big Ten race. Illinois was 7-11 in conference play, but only two graduates and the addition of a few key recruits will push this team up the ladder a bit.
This could be a make-or-break season for Tom Crean. Several Hoosiers departed the program in the offseason, some due to graduation and others due to departure. The team's 17-15 record last season resulted in Indiana famously declining a CBI tournament bid, which made the team look a bit foolish in some people's eyes.
Five players are gone from the team that finished 20-13 overall and lost a First Four game to Tennessee. The Hawkeyes should hold their own in the Big Ten, but they may be pushed down a bit by the arrival of some programs.
One of two newcomers to the Big Ten, the Terrapins finished 17-15 overall and lost in the ACC tournament to Florida State. Maryland should find the going a little easier in the Big Ten, but not much.
Five players graduated from the team that swept to the NIT championship, but second-year coach Richard Pitino put his recruiting skills to work and brought in some key recruits. The Golden Gophers should be just outside the conference race this season, but could play spoiler.
The Buckeyes did very well in the recruiting department, bringing in several blue chips to offset losses from a 25-10 team. Ohio State's first order of business will be to erase the bitter memories of a team that lost its first tournament game to Dayton.
A 19-13 record resulted in Nebraska's first trip to the NCAA tournament in 16 years. It was a short stay, but the Cornhuskers are a revitalized program and should be among the Big Ten leaders this season.
A heartbreaking loss to Kentucky in the Elite Eight stopped this team's title dreams cold. Departures of players like Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary are offset by a ton of blue-chip talent coming into this program. Look for the Wolverines to be among the leaders again.
The Spartans dropped an Elite Eight contest against eventual champion Connecticut, and with that game players like Adreian Payne and Keith Appling played their final game at MSU. Never count out a Tom Izzo-coached squad, though.
Last year's Final Four team will have Frank Kaminsky back, as well as other stars from a squad that competed for the Big Ten title all season long. Wisconsin will be among the favorites once again and could even take the title outright.
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