After finishing last season second to last in the Big Ten, results for this season should be similar if not worse for this Gophers team. With the losses of Marcus Carr to Texas and season ending injuries to Isaiah Ihnen and Parker Fox, this Gopher team will see struggles come conference play. On a positive note, the Gophers did land George Washington transfer Jamison Battle and 2021 three-star Treyton Thompson which may help them stay a little competitive in the Big Ten.
This Northwestern team has a rollercoaster of questions surrounding it. They’re a talented veteran team that has some inconsistencies that must be fixed. Boo Buie is great off screens and can shoot well from three but, the past two seasons he’s had his inconsistent moments. With Buie, senior forward Pete Nance, and newly acquired four-star freshman Casey Simmons, expect this team to be very competitive in the conference but also have shaky stretches throughout the season.
After finishing last in the Big Ten the previous two years, the rebuilding years might finally be coming to an end for Fred Hoiberg. The future for the Cornhuskers is here and that is 2021 four-star, Bryce McGowens. The offense should see an increase in play with landing transfer’s C.J. Wilcher from Xavier and Alonzo Verge Jr from Arizona State. This will be a very exciting team to watch, offensively and competitive wise, and see if they can make that next jump in the Big Ten standings.
After being sent home in the first weekend by Oregon in March Madness last year, the Hawkeyes are trending downwards ahead of the 2021-22 season. They lost Luke Garza and Joe Wieskamp to the draft and CJ Frederick transferred to Kentucky. Jordan Bohannon and Keegan Murray will be the vocal points of this offense and if Fran McCaffery structures this offense to a similar high ranking as it was last season, Iowa will be right back at the top of the Big Ten. If not, we could see a complete downfall of a team that was a two seed in last year’s tournament.
The Badgers are going into the 2021-22 season with a lot of questions and concerns on how this team will fare in the Big Ten. Steven Crowl is going to have a major role in this offense and needs to take advantage of the opportunity if the Badgers want a shot at March Madness. They get returning guard Brad Davison whose consistency will go a long way in big games in the conference. Wisconsin’s season will be a question mark and can easily turn in the wrong direction or turn into a tough tournament team to beat, we’ll just have to wait and see.
9. Penn State | Team MVP: Seth Lundy | Best Freshman: N/A
The Micah Shrewsberry era has officially begun in Happy Valley. This Nittany Lions team has a ton of upside potential and could look to make a huge jump this year in the Big Ten standings. Their offense will be led by Seth Lundy and Jalen Pickett under Shrewsberry’s pro-style type of offense. If Penn State can stay consistent offensive wise, they’ll be one of the tougher teams to play in the Big Ten.
Tom Izzo is going to have some work cut out for him this year with relying on players like Max Christie to be the “go to” guy or trust veterans Gabe Brown and Marcus Bingham Jr. to lead this team. The reason they’re low on this list is because that’s how this season for the Spartans could easily turn out.
The duo of Geo Baker and Ron Harper Jr. is back and are looking to take this Rutgers team back to the tournament. It’ll be very exciting to watch the senior duo for one more year under Steve Pikiell and see if they can live up to their potential. This team has the potential to be near the top of the Big Ten but they must play better in conference play as they finished 10-10 last season.
6. Indiana | Team MVP: Trayce Jackson-Davis | Best Freshman: Tamar Bates[
Trayce Jackson-Davis is going to be a problem for defenses in the Big Ten and a key piece to the Hoosiers chances to win the Big Ten. They’ve also added four-star’s Tamar Bates and Logan Duncomb who might not see big roles, but will definitely add help to a team looking to making big strides this season. Indiana has a lot of veteran presence with this roster and it’ll be intriguing to see how Mike Woodson does in his first year as head coach for the Hoosiers.
5. Maryland | Team MVP: [Player: Qudus Wahab | Best Freshman: Julian Reese
The Terrapins are a sleeper team in the Big Ten conference this year. They made great acquisitions during the offseason with acquiring Fatts Russell from Rhode Island and Qudus Wahab from Georgetown. Sophomore Ian Martinez and 2021 four-star Julian Reese will also provide needed roles off the bench. Maryland’s offense is going to be a tough one to stop and can easily make debates for one of the best teams in the Big Ten by the end of the season.
With the departure of Ayo, Illinois should be thrilled their best player, Kofi Cockburn, decided not to leave in the transfer portal and return to the Illini. Expect this Illini team to return back to the top of the Big Ten and be in contention for a high seed come tournament time. The offense will look a little different without Ayo but, sophomore guard Andre Curbelo has been given keys to run this offense with his elite playmaking ability.
After a devastating upset loss in round one of the tournament against Oral Roberts, the Buckeyes look to get back to the elite high level they were playing at last year. Returning junior E.J. Liddell will play a big role in this Buckeyes offense paired along with Penn State transfer Jamari Wheeler and four-star guard Meechie Johnson Jr. Expect this Ohio State team to not only return to their high ranking as last year, but possibly be even better. They’re a heavy sleeper to win the Big Ten conference.
This Boilermakers team might be the best all around talent wise in the Big Ten. Projected lottery pick Jaden Ivey is returning for his second season and 7-footer Zach Edey will also be coming back for his second season. This offense has scorers all throughout the starting lineup and will look to make a big jump in the Big Ten with their championship contending team. It’ll be a tough matchup for Big Ten defenses against this stacked offense which is why Purdue comes in at #2 in the rankings.
To make things clear about Michigan’s team MVP, Dickinson will be the best productive wise for the Wolverines but, Houstan can easily take that throne as the season goes on. Michigan will be a dominant team throughout the whole year and have the chance to put themselves in the driver’s seat for a potential one seed come tournament time. They’re favorites to win the Big Ten because of their stardom talent in their lineup and that’s why Michigan comes in at number on the Big Ten conference rankings.
2022 Top B1G NBA Prospects
1. Jaden Ivey | 6’ 4” Guard | Sophomore | Purdue
Edging out a number of highly talented Big 10 freshmen, the South Bend native, Jaden Ivey (pictured) tops our list. Entering his second season at Purdue, Ivey shows a lot of promising but, also streaky potential for a prospect in this year’s draft. His scoring ability isn’t quite there yet only averaging 11.1 PPG on 39.9% shooting last year but, he makes it up with great playmaking skills from the guard position and solid defense in the backcourt. Ivey balled out for the United States in Tiga, Latvia at the FIBA World Cup U19 team averaging 12.3 PPG in just 16.5 minutes per game. Ivey also was named to the Big Ten’s All Freshmen Team last season and look for him to have a breakout season this year and potentially become a lottery pick.
2. Caleb Houstan | 6’ 8” Forward | Freshman | Michigan
Houstan is a pure shooter coming out of Montverde Academy and Michigan fans will be very happy pairing Houstan with returning sophomore center Hunter Dickinson. In his first game with the Wolverines, Houstan played solid putting up 11 points on 4-7 from the field and racking up 6 boards in a 88-76 win against Buffalo. It’s too early to tell but, if Houstan can improve his game as a shot creator throughout the season, I can totally see his name being called as one of the first 14 picks in this year’s draft.
3. Bryce McGowens | 6’ 7” Guard | Freshman | Nebraska
Nebraska fans are excited to watch this young man play this season. McGowens has great size and length that’ll match up well with other guards he faces this year. His only downside shown from high school is his streaky shooting game. Where he struggles in one part of his game, he makes up by being able to create open space and shots for him in a conference know for teams with tough and physical defense. Even though Nebraska started off the season with a 75-74 loss to Western Illinois, McGowens showed out dropping 25 points on 7-18 from the field and 1-6 from three. If McGowens can improve his shooting throughout this season, I see no reason why he wouldn’t be considered as a potential lottery pick and put a previously struggling Nebraska team last year, to a more improving competing team in the Big Ten.
4. Max Christie | 6’ 6” Guard | Freshman | Michigan State
Christie is a kid I am extremely high on and could be as high as 1 on this list. The five-star and #2 shooting guard in the 2021 class coming out of Arlington Heights, IL has opened up a lot of NBA scouts eyes with his lethal three point game that goes along well with his solid defensive skill set. A player Christie reminds me the most of with his game is Phoenix Suns star Mikal Bridges. They both play a tough defensive game but are also able to create shots from the wing area. Even though Christie comes in at most big boards as a borderline lottery pick, I think there’s going to be some wiggle room with Christie with the way he plays and as the season goes on, I think scouts will get to see the full potential with Christie as a prospect on their lists. Michigan State will be one of the big talks in the Big Ten this year and like Spartans fans, I’m excited to watch and see how Christie plays in a big spotlighted program.
5. Trayce Jackson-Davis |6’ 9” Forward | Sophomore | Indiana
To round out the top five in my Big Ten’s NBA prospects is the sophomore star forward from Indiana, Trayce Jackson-Davis. Davis really exploded on the scene last year for the Hoosiers averaging 19.1 PPG, shooting 51.7% from the field, and racking in 9 rebounds per game. Look for Davis to continue his high-level play in the Big Ten and have the chance to take the Hoosiers to a high ranking in the conference. If Davis continues to play like last season, NBA scouts are going to have a hard time passing up on #23 in the late first round or early second round.