The Runner Sports

Way Too Early 2017-18 Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings

It’s never too early to start speculating when it comes to college basketball. It’s going to be a long offseason, and it’s only just begun, but why not have a little fun? Here’s a way too early look at next year’s Big Ten Power Rankings.

1. Michigan State Spartans

Hearing that Miles Bridges plans to return to Michigan State is enormous news for the Spartans. He’ll make a big splash in the league and have a chance to be the conference player of the year. Add in Nick Ward, Josh Langford, and Matt McQuaid, and you’ve got a team that’s looking to make another run to the Final Four under Tom Izzo.

2. Michigan Wolverines

Moritz Wagner and D.J. Wilson have a chance to be one of the best duos in the country next season, should they return. My guess is that they will. Michigan proved to be better than a 7 seed in this year’s tournament; it certainly could harness some of that momentum heading into next season. Losses of Derrick Walton Jr. and Zak Irvin hurt, but this team brings in a valuable transfer in Charles Matthews from Kentucky as well as a few good recruits.

3. Purdue Boilermakers

Assuming Caleb Swanigan will return to school (though that’s kind of a big assumption), Purdue is going to be right in the mix once more. The Boilermakers could even compete with MSU for a Big Ten Title if Biggie comes back to school. Vince Edwards and Isaac Haas are in the same boat. Realistically, this team could only lose Spike Albrecht, and if they return everyone else, watch out.

4. Indiana Hoosiers

OG Anunoby is gone, but James Blackmon Jr, Thomas Bryant, and Robert Johnson could all be back. New head coach Archie Miller is going to have some new pieces to work with, and if he keeps some of the existing talent in Bloomington, this team will make it back to the NCAA Tournament.

5. Wisconsin Badgers

Ethan Happ should be back next year, making Wisconsin a Top 5 contender right there. Sure, the Badgers lose 4 of their 5 starters from last season, but they keep some solid underclassmen and bring in a solid recruiting class as well, headlined by Nathan Reuvers. Wisconsin never fails to finish near the top of the league.

6. Minnesota Gophers

The Gophers only lose Akeem Springs this offseason. Nate Mason, Amir Coffey, and Jordan Murphy will be back, and this team also adds a top 100 recruit in Isaiah Washington. Richard Piton’s squad should make it two consecutive Big Dances next season.

7. Northwestern Wildcats

I hope I’m not sleeping on the Wildcats too much. They’ll lose Nathan Taphorn and Sanjay Lumpkin, but they’ll keep Bryant McIntosh, Scottie Lindsey, Vic Law, and Derek Pardon. If this team plays like it did last season, there’s no doubt in my mind it will make its second ever NCAA Tournament appearance.

8. Maryland Terrapins

The losses of Melo Trimble, L.G. Gill, and Damonte Dodd hurt, but the Terrapins bring in two top 100 recruits to add to what’s going to be a dangerous sophomore class. Maryland brings back Anthony Cowan, Kevin Huerter, and Justin Jackson. The Terrapins are going to be young, but they’re also going to be dangerous.

9. Penn State Nittany Lions

Freshmen Tony Carr, Lamar Stephens, and Mike Watkins will all be back. Penn State also returns Shep Garner and Josh Reaves. Last year was the confidence-building year for this team; this year, it’s going to have a chance to do even more damage. Watch out for this team as it tries to rise in the ranks and shock the league.

10. Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio State should keep everyone but Marc Loving, meaning they should be a little better than they were last season. This team adds a top 100 recruit in Kaleb Wesson, and Jae’Sean Tate should be the star of the show in Columbus next year. I think Ohio State might be undervalued heading into next season, but last year was a train wreck.

11. Iowa Hawkeyes

Peter Jok’s departure stings, but Tyler Cook is going to be back along with some impressive sophomores and juniors. I’m not sure what to make of this team without Jok, but I think it could be better than 11 at the end of the day.

12. Illinois Fighting Illini

Illinois would have been two or three spots higher had it not lost its top recruit for next season. Fans should be excited to see what Brad Underwood’s going to do with the program, but it’s going to take a year or two for the Illini to climb the ladder. This team is going to be in the NIT again.

13. Nebraska Cornhuskers

The Cornhuskers lose quite a bit of talent in Tai Webster, but Glynn Watson will be back. This is his team now, and the Cornhuskers are going to go as far as he’s willing to take them. I don’t see that being too far unfortunately.

14. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Rutgers might eventually break the streak and finish better than 14th. It won’t be this next season.