That’s assuming no bizarre early entry decisions, etc. Assuming that, this is going to be a much improved league next season. The reason why is the incredible youth all around the conference.
Michigan State should be better. Need to see how the wing spots get filled out to know for sure, but this is going to be a bigger, deeper and more mature group with the kind of high end talent needed to contend for championships.
Purdue will lose Swanigan, which is of course major, but as long as Haas returns, I don’t see much reason to think they’ll fall off a cliff. Should still be an NCAA caliber team.
Maryland may lose Melo Trimble and will lose Dodd but they’ve got two Top 50ish recruits coming in and three freshmen starters who will be sophs next year. I think they’ve got a reasonable chance to be better next season, even without Melo.
Minnesota loses no one.
Northwestern will bring everyone back. They should be a Tourney team.
With Michigan, it’s all about the point guard spot and if Wagner and Wilson return. If those two are back, M has an enviable post combination. They’ll need massive improvement from Simpson or Eli Brooks to be better than advertised coming in next season.
Nebraska will lose Webster but they’ve got everyone else coming back, an interesting transfer from Georgetown and expected maturity from guys like Watson, Tshimanga, etc. I think they’ll be better.
PSU has been snakebit lately but I love their young guys. That’s a team which should be good enough to contend for a Tourney bid next season.
OSU will return everyone but Marc Loving and should have Bates-Diop back, who might be their most purely talented guy.
Who knows what will happen with IU? The coaching position is in flux it would seem, so you don’t know who might opt to leave, but IU doesn’t have seniors on that roster. If OG, Bryant everybody else were to return, this is a team with a lot of ability. Maybe a new voice gets more out of them on the defensive end?
Iowa loses Jok, and that is significant but they’ll replace him with Franny Volcano’s kid, who is a very highly regarded shooting guard…and they’ve got everyone else back from a team which has played beyond expectations IMO and should be better with another year of maturity.
That leaves Rutgers, Illinois and Wisconsin. I expect Rutgers to be improved simply because their new staff has another year to improve the offensive talent and to continue to develop the guys they already have. Still likely the worst team in the conference but reasonable to expect them to be better.
Wisconsin loses 4 starters but Happ is back and it wouldn’t floor anyone to see some guys who have played limited roles to suddenly develop into good Big Ten starters. That’s what Ryan did year after year, so we’ll see if Gard can turn the same trick.
Illinois also has a coaching situation to deal with, but beyond that they’re slated to lose a lot of guys. OTOH, they have a strong recruiting class waiting in the wings. Hard to expect them to be better, but too much uncertainty there at the moment to know for sure what things will look like.
The bottom line is that this should be a much better conference top to bottom. Too early to tell who might be national contenders but I think getting through the 18 game slate next winter is going to be pure warfare, because so many of these teams were exceptionally young and when freshmen become sophomores, usually better things start to happen.