Some quick thoughts…
– I think the league’s depth will be better than last season. It almost has to be but honestly, it really should work out that way. To me, the two worst teams on paper are Rutgers and Illinois and they’re not without talent.
– The top will be down some from last season. Doesn’t mean a team can’t make a deep run (see Michigan after a 5th place regular season finish as an example) but again, on paper, I don’t see a top 5 or maybe even top 10 team nationally anywhere in the conference…at least not in the preseason.
– Everyone focuses on guys lost to early entry from MSU, M, OSU, Maryland, etc. but the team which got hit hardest IMO is Penn State in losing Tony Carr. Bring him back and I’d have been sorely tempted to give them a decent shot at winning the league…and I think they’d definitely have contended for it at the very least. Without him, it’s a serious step down.
– Nice, solid recruiting year around the conference. Not many obvious one and done candidates (Romeo Langford at IU and maybe Jalen Smith at Maryland) but a lot of good classes. MSU and M with highly rated deep and large groups but that’s just where it starts. IU landed some nice players before Langford (I think IU is going to be a legit title threat this year if their freshmen are anywhere near expectations). Maryland has a strong five man group. Illinois has six kids coming in. OSU and Northwestern have good four man classes. All of these (7 schools) are in the top 30 nationally per Rivals. Rutgers (!) and Minnesota are in the top 50 and Purdue and Iowa are just outside it with smaller classes.
MSU fans are thinking the 18 class should be a solid, foundational type group where you’ve got a lot of guys who should play early but few threats to leave immediately, so they should help you, in the words of Mike Brey “get old.” That’s true IMO but I think it’s going to be true for several teams in the conference.