Big Ten Bball Review Pt III: Next Year's Personnel

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

The final wrap-up of the year that was in Big Ten Basketball, with a review of personnel changes and my projection of the 2015 final conference standings.

1. Wisconsin - Big Surprise, huh? There's no clear replacement for Brust on next year's roster, which raises an interesting question as to whether the deadliness of the Badger attack remains as efficient if Nigel Hayes starts alongside Kaminsky and Dekker. Also, I usually love to denigrate Traevon Jackson's play at point, but he was pretty valuable against teams not in the Big Ten. The surprise to watch would be freshman Ethan Happ, who is reportedly underrated and might be the perfect fit for this team - and might never get off the bench like many of Bo Ryan's future stars.

Departing: Ben Brust

Arriving: Ethan Happ, Zak Showalter(RS), Riley Dearring (RS), TJ Schlundt

2. Ohio State - One minor red flag right now - the eligibility of the conference's top recruit, D'Angelo Russell,
who still has not been cleared by the NCAA. Even so, with Ja'Sean Tate and Kam Williams also looking for minutes
on the wing, I don't expect that would be a death knell for the Buckeyes. The main thing for Matta is to find an
new identity for these guys, who for so long have been a reflection of Aaron Craft or Jared Sullinger. Can this
talented group of newcomers blend effectively with the hardscrabble, non-scoring returnees? I'm guessing yes.

Departing: Aaron Craft, LaQuinton Ross, Lenzelle Smith, Jr., Amadeo Della Valle

Arriving: Andrew Lee (TR), D'Angelo Russell*(?), Keita Bates-Diop*, Ja'Sean Tate*, Kammeron Williams* (RS), David Bell

3. Michigan State - I think the loss of Payne, Harris, and Appling would cripple most teams, but I think MSU will be well served with Denzel Valentine taking on a more primary role. They won't be the monster they looked like at a couple of times last season, but with Branden Dawson, Matt Costello, Travis Trice and Kenny Kaminiski - not to mention the possible contributions off the bench from TumTum Nairn, Javon Bess, and Gavin Schilling, Izzo's team has a lower risk factor than almost all of the other conference teams.

Departing: Adriean Payne, Gary Harris, Keith Appling, Alex Gauna, Russell Byrd

Arriving: LouRawls "TumTum" Nairn*, Javon Bess, Marvin Clark

4. Iowa -If McCaffrey doesn't show something with this bunch, I don't know when he will. It'll be tough to adapt after losing one anchor in paint in Basabe and the bailout man in Marble. Still, late pick-up Trey Dickerson might just be McCaffrey's new Bryce Cartwright, freeing up Mike Gesell for more scoring, and Jarrod Uthoff should be ready to take up the slack in the frontcourt. With a deep bench and a towering frontline, I still expect the Hawkeyes to be pretty decent.

Departing: Roy Devyn Marble, Melsahn Basabe, Zach McCabe

Arriving: Trey Dickerson (JC), Dominique Uhl, Brady Ellingson

5. Minnesota - The Gophers should be a lock for a NCAA tourney berth, but not much more. Although Carlos Morris should be able to step in for Hollins (perhaps not as efficiently), I'm not sure Josh Martin and Nate Mason can be as helpful as Oto Osenieks and Malik Smith were this season. But the natural progression from the rest of veterans should still ensure a step forward into the NCAA tourney.

Departing: Austin Hollins, Oto Osenieks, Mailk Smith, Maverick Ahanmisi, Wally Ellenson

Arriving: Carlos Morris (JC), Josh Martin, Nathan Mason, Gaston Diedhou, Bakary Konate

6. Nebraska - Tim Miles' backcourt is actually pretty sparse now. Sure, Tai Webster and Benny Parker have the point guard spot covered, but I'm not sure who plays the two-guard now. True frosh point Tarin Smith might be an option, or redshirt Nick Fuller, but I would guess Miles puts either Leslee Smith or David Rivers in the starting line-up and shifts Terran Pettaway and Shavon Shields out on the wing. I wouldn't expect massive progress out of this team, but demonstrating that they are a solid top-40 team nationally should be enough for Miles.

Departing: Ray Gallegos, Deverell Biggs, Nathan Hawkins, Sergei Vucetic

Arriving: Nick Fuller (RS), Jacob Hammond, Tarin Smith

7. Indiana - I'm giving the narrowest of edges to the Hoosiers over a tight pack of contenders, despite the significant personnel losses. I think the freshmen are actually better suited to the roles that Yogi, Troy, et al, need them to fill than Will Sheehey and Evan Gordon were. I'm hoping, but I would not bet on the Hoosiers returning to the NCAA tourney next season. It just seems like more like a NIT team, but again, here's hoping.

Departing: Noah Vonleh, Will Sheehey, Jeremy Hollowell, Evan Gordon, Luke Fischer, Austin Etherington

Arriving: James Blackmon Jr.*, Robert Johnson*, Max Hoetzel, Tim Priller, Jeremiah April

8. Illinois- Coach Grove brought in shooters with Starks and Cosby, and Leron Black is the B1G's top PF recruit. This club got a lot better once it started playing its freshmen wings last season, cresting past the Hoosiers at the very end. So why am I hesitant to place them above Indiana for next year? In a word, balance. I'm not confident that Groce can balance his need for a significantly more efficient offense while maintaining a strong defense. For example, Black is an athlete who's rebounding should pair nicely with Egwu's shotblocking - but frosh bigs tend to have problems with playing efficient defense. Last year at this time, I called out IU's probable use of inexperienced bigs as likely to hurt their defense, and despite Vonleh's numbers, IU's defensive efficiency backslid considerably (.07). Of course, there was the loss of Oladipo, too. But back to Illinois: looking at the advanced statistics on statsheet, I also don't think that the transfers can boost the offense without hurting the defense.

Departing: Jon Ekey, Joseph Bertrand.

Arriving: Ahmad Starks (TR), Aaron Cosby (TR), Leron Black*, Michael Finke


9. Maryland - The Terrapins grabbed five the conference of the conference's top 100 RSCI freshmen, and nabbed a high-scoring transfer (Pack from NC A&T), which is good, as they lost three probable starters to transfer. Going .500 in a new conference, with a true freshman/converted scoring guard at point should be the ceiling for reasonable expectations.

Departing: Seth Allen, Nick Faust, Shaquille Cleare, Charles Mitchell, Roddy Peters

Arriving: Richaud Pack (Tr), Melo Trimble*, Dion Wiley*, Trayvon Reed*, Michal Cekovsky*, Jared Nickens*

10. Michigan - It kills me that I am sure that I am underrating this squad, as this seems too far down for John Beiliuen's wizardry, but he just lost so much (partly due to strange circumstances) this offseason that will be tough to replace. I do think Kam Chatman has a good shot at FOY, and Mark Donnal might be able to be the new Jordan Morgan (but he might also be the new Max Bielfeldt). Caris Levert might step forward to be the new Stauskas/Burke, or he might stagnate like Robinson or Hardaway. There's just a lot of uncertainty here. For example, Jon Horford didn't get a ton of minutes off the bench, but was one of the best in the conference at providing stops. Who provides that role on this roster? I do think Derrick Walton is going to take a big step forward, which should be enough to keep them at least in some bubble discussions late into the season.

Departing: Nik Stauskas, Jordan Morgan, Jon Horford, Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III

Arriving: Kameron Chatman*, Mark Donnal*(RS), Ricky Doyle, DJ Wilson, Aubrey Dawkins, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Austin Hatch

11. Purdue - I'm not trying to be a jerk to Boiler fans, I just have low expectations for this team. There's not as much difference between Purdue and Nebraska as there is between Purdue and Northwestern, in my mind, but of those teams in the muddled middle, I think Purdue loses out. If Davis and Hammons continue to improve, if Basil Smotherman or Vince Edwards turns into the junkyard dog forward they need, and if Bryson Scott explodes as a perimeter playmaker on both sides of the ball, than sure - they've got a very decent shot at the NCAA tourney.  It just seems like it's a lot of "ifs" for a program that's finished under .500 in conference games and overall for the last two years.

Departing: Terone Johnson, Ronnie Johnson, Sterling Carter, Erreck Peck, Jay Simpson, Travis Carroll

Arriving: Vincent Edwards, Isaac Haas, Dakota Mathias, Jacquil Taylor, PJ Thompson

12. Northwestern - NU will be better, but it's hard to see how the ceiling for this next season could rise above 10th in the conference. Collins is making progress, and that should be enough. The newcomers should get a lot of run, but I think there's fundamental problems with the offense that will take at least another year to fix, especially without Drew Crawford.

Departing: Drew Crawford, Nikola Cerina, Kale Abrahamson

Arriving: Victor Law, Bryant McIntosh, Jeremiah Kreisberg (Tr), Gavin Skelly, Johnnie Vassar, Scott Lindsey

13. Penn State - Really, the only thing keeping me from slotting Penn State as last is the addition of Rutgers. The Nittany Lions were a disaster for most of the season that they had DJ Newbill running point, so Pat Chambers desperately needs sophomore combo guard Geno Thorpe or newcomers Garner and/or Foster to be competent as a starter at point. Who'd thunk that the frontcourt of Ross Travis, Brandon Taylor, and Donovan Jack would be a strength?

Departing: Tim  Frazier, Allen Roberts

Arriving: Shep Garner, Isaiah Washington, Devin Foster (JC) Peyton Banks (RS)

14. Rutgers - What is there really to say? At best, Coach Eddie Johnson will be able to field a team that should compete every night, but wins are going to be rare. The newcomers might be diamonds in the rough, but are more likely guys that will take a couple of years to really make a difference.

Departing:
Wally Judge, JJ Moore, Jerome Seagers, Craig Brown, D'Von Campbell

Arriving: Ibrihima Diallo, DJ Foreman, Mike Williams, Ryan Johnson, Bishop Daniels

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