Big Ten Basketball Preview: Part One

By Will Zeitler

With the start of the 2015-16 college basketball season approaching the Big 10 is prepared for another competitive year. Let’s take a look back at last season and look forward to the next.

Wisconsin: Coming off the best season in program history, the 2014-15 Big Ten champions and national runner-ups completed last season with a 36-4 record. Led by standouts Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, the Badgers continued to be a major power in college basketball under head coach Bo Ryan. Losing Kaminsky and Dekker to the NBA and with Bo Ryan possibly retiring after this coming season, there are many doubts surrounding the program. With only Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig returning as key players from last season, Bo Ryan had a young mostly inexperienced team. The key to success for Wisconsin this season will rely on the play of Hayes and Koenig. Not only do the two need to take on leadership roles but focus on finding ways to score consistently without Kaminsky and Dekker.

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Maryland: After losing in the third round of the NCAA tournament to West Virginia, Maryland finished last season with a solid 28-7 record. The Terps made some major strides last season but lost some disappointing games against Indiana, Ohio State, and Iowa. This season head coach Mark Turgeon has College Park excited bringing in Duke transfer Rasheed Sulaimon to help returning standouts Melo Trimble and Jake Layman. Looking to win the Big Ten and contend for a national championship, Maryland is definitely equipped to do so.

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Michigan State: Finishing 27-12 last season with a surprise appearance in the Final Four, Michigan State got hot at the right time last year. Many doubted the Spartans last year but their Final Four push whipped away all the doubt. The Spartans will have to replace leading scorer Travis Trice, who left for the NBA, with West Virginia transfer Eron Harris. Along with veteran Denzel Valentine, Izzo’s Spartans should be able to make another tournament push and contend for the Big 10 championship.

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Northwestern: In his third year at the helm, head coach Chris Collins is still in the process of turning the Big 10’s historically worst team into a contender. Each year with Collins the Wildcats are closer to reaching their goal of making it to the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history. Center Alex Olah is one of the best in the conference and guard Tre Demps is a clutch shooter that helped Northwestern sneak some wins against Iowa and Michigan. Look out for the Wildcats this season.

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Minnesota: The Gophers finished last season at 18-15 and won an exciting overtime game against Michigan State. After losing Elliot Eliason, Andre Hollins, and Maurice Walker, Coach Richard Pitino Gophers will be extremely young. This is not the year to be young in the Big Ten, and their inexperience will hurt them.

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Nebraska: Nebraksa finished last season 13-18, and lost two key players in Terran Pittway and Walter Pitchford. The Cornhuskers want to build for the future and maybe collect some upset wins this coming season.

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This is part one of a two part preview on the Big 10 conference’s upcoming NCAA basketball season

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