Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Bracketology: Kansas returns to top line

4 Comments

The roller-coaster ride along the No. 1 seed line continues.  This morning, we welcome back Kansas.  The Jayhawks’ rally against West Virginia, combined with Auburn’s loss at South Carolina, inched KU back to the top line.  With three weeks to go, Virginia and Villanova look like good bets to hold their top-seed positions.  The next two spots – occupied today by Xavier and Kansas – are a little more in question.

Various seed line groupings are closely bunched, meaning fluidity remains in the middle and lower ends of the bracket.  A lot of bubble teams won over the weekend, picking up notable wins along the way.  The proverbial stretch run is upon us.

Here’s the latest ..

UPDATED: February 19, 2018

FIRST FOUR PAIRINGS – Dayton (First Round)

  • Washington vs. St. Bonaventure | East Region
  • Syracuse vs. Baylor Midwest Region
  • SOUTHERN vs. SAVANNAH ST | South Region
  • FL GULF COAST vs. NICHOLLS | East Region

BRACKET PROJECTION

SOUTH Atlanta    EAST – Boston                               
Charlotte Pittsburgh
1) VIRGINIA 1) VILLANOVA
16) SOUTHERN / SAVANNAH ST 16) FL GULF CST / NICHOLLS
8) Providence 8) Florida State
9) Florida 9) NEVADA
Boise San Diego
5) Ohio State 5) West Virginia
12) LOUISIANA 12) St. Bonaventure / Washington
4) Tennessee 4) GONZAGA
13) E. TENNESSEE ST 13) BUFFALO
Dallas Wichita
6) Alabama 6) Kentucky
11) MID TENNESSEE 11) Kansas State
3) Texas Tech 3) CINCINNATI
14) CHARLESTON 14) VERMONT
Detroit Nashville
7) Texas AM 7) Creighton
10) NC State 10) TCU
2) MICHIGAN STATE 2) North Carolina
15) WRIGHT STATE 15) WAGNER
WEST – Los Angeles MIDWEST – Omaha
Wichita Detroit
1) KANSAS 1) Xavier
16) PENNSYLVANIA 16) UNC-ASHEVILLE
8) Miami-FL 8) Oklahoma
9) Seton Hall 9) Virginia Tech
San Diego Boise
5) Michigan 5) RHODE ISLAND
12) NEW MEXICO ST 12) LOYOLA (CHI)
4) ARIZONA 4) Wichita State
13) SOUTH DAKOTA ST 13) BELMONT
Dallas Pittsburgh
6) Houston 6) Missouri
11) Texas 11) Baylor / Syracuse
3) Clemson 3) Purdue
14) BUCKNELL 14) RIDER
Nashville Charlotte
7) Arizona State 7) Arkansas
10) Saint Mary’s 10) Butler
2) AUBURN 2) Duke
15) UC-SANTA BARBARA 15) MONTANA

NOTES on the BRACKET: Virginia is the No. 1 overall seed – followed by Villanova, Xavier, and Kansas

Last Four Byes (at large): Butler, Saint Mary’s, Kansas State, Texas

Last Four IN (at large): Washington, Baylor, St. Bonaventure, Syracuse

First Four OUT (at large): UCLA, LSU, Louisville, Marquette

Next four teams OUT (at large): USC, Utah, Georgia, Notre Dame

Breakdown by Conference …

ACC (9): VIRGINIA, Duke, North Carolina, Clemson, Florida State, Miami-FL, Virginia Tech, NC State, Syracuse

SEC (8): AUBURN, Tennessee, Missouri, Alabama, Kentucky, Texas AM, Arkansas, Florida

BIG 12 (8): TEXAS TECH, Kansas, West Virginia, Oklahoma, TCU, Kansas State, Texas, Baylor

Big East (6): VILLANOVA, Xavier, Creighton, Providence, Seton Hall, Butler

Big 10 (4): MICHIGAN STATE, Purdue, Ohio State, Michigan

Pac 12 (3): ARIZONA, Arizona State, Washington

American (3): CINCINNATI, Wichita State, Houston

Atlantic 10 (2): RHODE ISLAND, St. Bonaventure

West Coast (2): GONZAGA, Saint Mary’s

Mountain West (1): NEVADA

ONE BID LEAGUES: Loyola-Chicago (MVC), Rider (MAAC), Middle Tennessee (C-USA), Louisiana (SBELT), Pennsylvania (IVY), Montana (BSKY), Wright State (HORIZON), Nicholls (SLND), East Tennessee State (STHN), UC-Santa Barbara (BWEST), Buffalo (MAC), Florida Gulf Coast (ASUN), Belmont (OVC), Charleston (CAA), UNC-Asheville (BSO), Savannah State (MEAC), South Dakota State (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), Bucknell (PAT), Wagner (NEC), Southern (SWAC)

Bracketing principles: read them for yourself at http://www.ncaa.com.

Bubble Banter: All of Sunday’s bubble action in one place

AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato
Leave a comment

As we will do every day throughout the rest of the season, here is a look at how college basketball’s bubble teams fared on Sunday.

It’s worth reminding you here that the way winning are labeled have changed this season. Instead of looking at all top 50 wins equally, the selection committee will be using criteria that breaks wins down into four quadrants, using the RPI:

  • Quadrant 1: Home vs. 1-30, Neutral vs. 1-50, Road vs. 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home vs. 31-75, Neutral vs. 51-100, Road vs. 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home vs. 76-160, Neutral vs. 101-200, Road vs. 136-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home vs. 161 plus, Neutral vs. 201 plus, Road vs. 240 plus

The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here.

WINNERS

SETON HALL (RPI: 26, KenPom: 40, NBC seed: 9): The Pirates entered Sunday having lost four in a row and seven of their last ten games. They snapped that skid with an 82-77 win over DePaul at home. Their final four games are at Providence, at St. John’s, Villanova and Butler. With a 3-6 record against Quadrant 1, a 6-8 mark against the top two Quadrants and a Quadrant 3 loss, the Pirates are not as comfortable as you might think.

HOUSTON (RPI: 19, KenPom: 19, NBC seed: 8): Houston had a phenomenal week this week, beating Cincinnati at home before going into Philly and knocking off Temple. With six Quadrant 1 wins, the Cougars will no longer be featured in this space.

LOSERS

NEBRASKA (RPI: 60, KenPom: 56, NBC seed: Next four out): Nebraska could not afford another loss in Big Ten play and have a shot at getting into the NCAA tournament. They lost at Illinois on Sunday, a day after everyone on the bubble won. They’re in a bad, bad spot.

TEMPLE (RPI: 45, KenPom: 87, NBC seed: Next four out): The Owls dropped to 15-12 overall on Sunday when they were worked over by Houston at home. That was the last chance Temple was going to have to add a Quadrant 1 win in the regular season. With three Quadrant 3 losses and a Quadrant 4 loss, Temple is going to need to beat two of Cincinnati, Wichita State and Houston in the AAC tournament to have a real chance.

PENN STATE (RPI: 76, KenPom: 27, NBC seed: Out): The Nittany Lions whiffed on a chance to get a win at Purdue, losing by three in a game that they led by nine in the first half. They are now in a tough spot, with just two Quadrant 1 wins and two Quadrant 2 wins and no more resume-building games left on their schedule. They’ll need to do some work in the Big Ten tournament to have a shot.

Bubble Banter: No. 15 Saint Mary’s has worrisome profile after loss to San Francisco

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
1 Comment

As we will do every day throughout the rest of the season, here is a look at how college basketball’s bubble teams fared on Thursday.

It’s worth reminding you here that the way winning are labeled have changed this season. Instead of looking at all top 50 wins equally, the selection committee will be using criteria that breaks wins down into four quadrants, using the RPI:

  • Quadrant 1: Home vs. 1-30, Neutral vs. 1-50, Road vs. 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home vs. 31-75, Neutral vs. 51-100, Road vs. 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home vs. 76-160, Neutral vs. 101-200, Road vs. 136-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home vs. 161 plus, Neutral vs. 201 plus, Road vs. 240 plus

The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here.

WINNERS

HOUSTON (RPI: 21, KenPom: 23, NBC seed: 11): After beating Cincinnati on their home floor on Thursday night, the Cougars are pretty close to a lock. They have now won four in a row and six of their last seven, including Wichita State and the Bearcats at home. They are 4-2 against Quadrant 1 opponents with a 20-5 mark on the season, more than enough to get the committee to overlook the fact that they have a loss to Drexel at home and Tulane on the road on their résumé. 

PENN STATE (RPI: 73, KenPom: 28, NBC seed: Out): Suddenly, the Nittany Lions are interesting. Sitting at 18-9 overall and 8-6 in the Big Ten, Penn State has now won four in a row and six of their last seven games, a stretch that is bookended by their only two Quadrant 1 wins of the season — at Ohio State and, on Thursday, a blowout win over Ohio State at home. With two Quadrant 1 games and a Quadrant 2 game left on their schedule, the Nittany Lions are suddenly in the conversation, although a pair of Quadrant 3 losses certainly doesn’t help their case. 

UCLA (RPI: 52, KenPom: 49, NBC seed: Play-in game): There are two things that can break your back in the Pac-12: losing at home to Cal and losing at home to Oregon State. UCLA avoided the latter on Thursday night, knocking off the Beavers in Pauley Pavilion. UCLA’s bid is going to be earned in their last three games, which are all Quadrant 1 opponents: at Utah, at Colorado, at USC. With just two Quadrant 1 wins and a Quadrant 3 loss, I think UCLA needs to go 2-1 in that stretch. 

USC (RPI: 42, KenPom: 50, NBC seed: First four out): The Trojans snapped a three-game losing streak by knocking off Oregon at home. Like UCLA, USC’s tournament hopes are pinned on the trip to the Mountain Schools next weekend. Right now, Andy Enfield’s club has just two Quadrant 1 wins, a 6-8 mark against the top two Quadrants and a Quadrant 4 loss at home to Princeton. It’s not pretty. 

MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE (RPI: 27, KenPom: 47, NBC seed: 12): The only way I can see Middle Tennessee State getting an at-large bid to the tournament is if they win out and lose to Western Kentucky in the CUSA tournament title game. Otherwise, they’re just another mid-major team with one Quadrant 1 win and more than one Quadrant 3 loss. 

LOSERS

SAINT MARY’S  (RPI: 28, KenPom: 17, NBC seed: 6): Saint Mary’s suddenly has one of the most interesting NCAA tournament profiles in the country. As it stands, the Gaels have played just a sincere Quadrant 1 game: at Gonzaga. They won that game. But they also lost to Gonzaga at home in a blowout to go along with a pair of Quadrant 3 losses — at San Francisco and Washington State on a neutral. The committee taught us something when the top 16 seeds of the bracket was revealed last weekend: They value winning. They prioritize quality wins over just about anything. That’s why Kansas was the No. 6 overall seed. That’s why Oklahoma was a No. 4 seed. It’s why Xavier has come close to lock status for the top seed line. Wins against quality teams are important, and Saint Mary’s has just one of them. They’re just 4-2 against the top two Quadrants. For my money, the Gaels are still a tournament team, but I’m not going to sit here and pretend that their profile is strong enough to take a loss in the WCC tournament — particularly to someone not named Gonzaga — and still be at-large worthy. 

TEMPLE (RPI: 38, KenPom: 82, NBC seed: Next four out): Temple had a chance to give themselves the boost they needed to get onto the right side of the bubble. But they blew a 14-point lead at Wichita State, losing what will go down as a bad loss only because it didn’t have to be a loss. The Owls do have three Quadrant 1 wins, but they also have four Quadrant 3 losses. I think they have to beat Houston at home this weekend to have a real chance. 

WASHINGTON  (RPI: 53, KenPom: 103, NBC seed: 10): The Huskies really did look like they were in line to make a run to the NCAA tournament after beating Arizona and Arizona State at home. But after losing to Utah at home on Thursday night, they’ve now dropped three in a row, none of which were Quadrant 1 games. Those four Quadrant 1 wins are going to help them out, but they need to start winning again, and soon. 

No. 5 Michigan State rallies and beats Penn State 76-68

(Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Miles Bridges had 23 points and nine rebounds, helping No. 5 Michigan State come back from a double-digit deficit to beat Penn State 76-68 on Wednesday night.

The Spartans (21-3, 9-2 Big Ten) rallied to win after trailing by 12 with 15:23 left after coming back from 13-point deficit to win their previous game at Maryland.

Cassius Winston made a go-ahead layup midway through the second half and Michigan State led by as much as 15.

The Nittany Lions (15-9, 5-6) had won two straight, including a buzzer-beater at Ohio State, and they didn’t give up their winning streak easily. They went on an 11-2 run to pull within six points with 37 seconds left after Carr made consecutive 3-pointers in 6 seconds. Carr just missed a 3-pointer with 19 seconds.

Joshua Langford made two free throws to seal the victory and finished with 14 points. Winston had 15 points and 10 assists for the Spartans, who have won five straight.

Penn State’s Tony Carr scored 28, and Lamar Stevens had 18 points.

BIG PICTURE

Penn State: Carr is showing he can make shots all over the court no matter who he’s facing, but the Nittany Lions have to give him more help. Stevens was his only teammate in double figures. Carr had 28 points in last week’s win at Ohio State and is averaging 19-plus points a game even though every team is trying to slow him down. Entering the game, the Nittany Lions had five players averaging in double-digits.

Michigan State: The crisis on campus related to Larry Nassar and an ESPN report isn’t going away and the Spartans know it. Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo wore a teal ribbon on the left lapel of his suit and his players wore the same ribbon over their hearts on their pullovers, honoring survivors of sexual violence. Nassar, a former doctor at the school, has been sentenced to decades in prison for sexually abusing young girls and women. ESPN has detailed various allegations involving Michigan State football and basketball players, putting Izzo in awkward situations during postgame news conferences.

UP NEXT

Penn State: Hosts Iowa on Saturday night.

Michigan State: Plays at Indiana on Saturday night, one of five road games in a seven-game stretch to close the regular season.

No. 16 Aggies win Progressive Classic behind Williams

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Leave a comment

NEW YORK (AP) — Robert Williams had 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead No. 16 Texas A&M to a 98-87 victory over Penn State in the championship game of the Progressive Legends Classic on Tuesday night at Barclays Center.

Duane Wilson led the Aggies (4-0) with 22 points while Tyler Davis chipped in 15, Admon Gilder had 14 and Tonny Torcha-Morelos finished with 11.

Despite getting a career-high 31 points from Tony Carr, Penn State (5-1) lost its first game of the season. Lamar Stevens added 25 points for Penn State.

The Aggies took a 42-40 lead into halftime due to Williams’ two-hand follow jam with 4 seconds left in the half. Seven of the eight players who got into the game in the first half for Texas A&M scored, led by Williams’ 12.

And the Aggies needed every point, as Carr was a one-man offensive onslaught for the Nittany Lions. Carr had 21 points in the opening half on 7-of-8 shooting including 2 for 2 from 3-point range. He made 5 of 6 free throws.

Texas A&M took a 63-51 lead on Wilson’s scoop layup 6:41 into the second half. Wilson’s layup was the culmination of a stretch in which the Aggies outscored the Nittany Lions 21-11.

Following Wilson’s layup, Penn State coach Pat Chambers called time out. DJ Hogg hit a 3 for the Aggies, Gilder made two free throws and Williams finished a 2-on-1 break with a two-handed jam off an alley-oop pass which pushed the lead to 70-53.

Penn State used an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to 70-61.

After a layup by Gilder pushed the lead to 72-61, the Nittany Lions scored the next five points on a layup by Carr and three free throws from Stevens. That was as close as they would get.

Williams was named tournament MVP, and was joined on the all-tournament team by Wilson, Carr, Stevens and Oklahoma State’s Jeffrey Carroll.

BIG PICTURE:

PENN STATE: The positive for Penn State is that Carr and Stevens combined for 56 points. The negative? The rest of the Nittany Lions totaled 31.

TEXAS A&M: The defensively stout Aggies were able to flex their offensive muscle against Penn State. Texas A&M made 33 of 54 shots (61 percent) from the field and knocked down 26 of 29 (89.7 percent) free throws.

NOTABLE:

PENN STATE: In the Chambers Era, the Nittany Lions are 4-3 all-time in games played in New York City, and 2-2 at games held at Barclays Center.

TEXAS A&M: The Aggies improved to 4-0 all-time against the Nittany Lions. Texas A&M is 2-0 at neutral site venues against Penn State.

UP NEXT:

PENN STATE: Hosts Oral Roberts on Friday.

TEXAS A&M: Hosts Pepperdine on Friday.

___

For more AP college basketball coverage: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Big Ten Conference Reset: Get caught up on all of the league’s offseason wheelings and dealings

Rob Carr/Getty Images
3 Comments

The NBA Draft’s Early Entry Deadline has come and gone. Just about every elite recruit has decided where they will be playing their college ball next season. The coaching carousel, which ended up spinning a bit faster than initially expected, has come to a close. The transfer market is slowly winding down.

In other words, by now, we have a pretty good feel for what college basketball is going to look like during the 2017-18 season. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what has happened — and what will happen — in the Big Ten over the next six months.

OFFSEASON STORYLINES 

1. Michigan State is a national title contender: The Spartans received the surprising news that freshman star Miles Bridges wasn’t even testing the NBA Draft process and things got rolling for the Spartans from there. The promising freshman core of Cassius Winston, Jeremy Langford and Nick Ward are all back and five-star freshman Jaren Jackson Jr. looks like the real deal. The icing on the cake was the return of graduate transfer big man Ben Carter and senior Gavin Schilling as their experience gives the Spartans ridiculous frontcourt depth.

2. The NBA Draft hit Purdue, Michigan and Maryland hard among Big Ten contenders: The rest of the league behind Michigan State remains a jumbled mess with the departure of a lot of talented Big Ten stalwarts. Purdue big man Caleb Swanigan and Maryland guard Melo Trimble were arguably the league’s two best players while Michigan big man D.J. Wilson emerged late in the season as a two-way force for the Wolverines. Those departures have left a lot of question marks behind Michigan State atop the league’s preseason perception.

3. Minnesota and Northwestern are two of the best teams in the league. Wait, what?: Coming off of NCAA tournament appearances, Minnesota and Northwestern have a ton of momentum heading into this season. Both teams have potential All-Big Ten lead guards in Nate Mason (Minnesota) and Bryant McIntosh (Northwestern) and return most of the talent from last season. It’s crazy to think that these might be the second and third best teams in the Big Ten, but the NBA Draft hit a lot of top teams hard while there weren’t a lot of impact recruits this offseason.

4. Archie Miller’s Indiana tenure commences: We’ve been waiting for years for Archie Miller to find the right job to leave Dayton and he’s finally found his place to rise to the elite ranks in college coaching. With what Miller has done at Dayton over the past few seasons, winning NCAA tournament games and building a top 25 program at an Atlantic 10 program, he has to be salivating with the resources at his disposal at Indiana. During his tenure at Dayton, Miller recruited the Midwest very well and it’ll be interesting to see if Miller can recapture the state of Indiana as a recruiting stronghold.

5. Ohio State’s continued freefall: Things have not been getting any easier for Thad Matta at Ohio State and he was dealt another significant blow this offseason when guard JaQuan Lyle quit the team and was later arrested. The Buckeyes are desperate for scholarship players with only nine on the roster as they are counting on a lot of players who haven’t proven themselves in the Big Ten.

Northwestern coach Chris Collins (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)

IMPORTANT ADDITIONS

  • Jaren Jackson Jr., Michigan State: The only real one-and-done threat that the Big Ten has entering this season, the 6-foot-10 stretch big man elevated to top-10 status by the end of his senior season. The scary thing about Jackson is that he doesn’t even turn 18 until this fall. He has a ton of upside and could be a matchup nightmare.
  • Mark Smith, Illinois: New head coach Brad Underwood and the Illini scored a major recruiting win by convincing this late-blooming guard and Mr. Basketball winner to stay home. Beating out some major contenders, Illinois landed itself a physical 6-foot-4 guard who should earn immediate minutes. Smith comes in with a winning reputation.
  • Jaaron Simmons, Michigan: If Simmons had stayed at Ohio then he could have been the preseason MAC Player of the Year. Instead, the graduate transfer who is eligible immediately will help Michigan cope with the loss of senior floor leader Derrick Walton. Defense might be a question mark with Simmons elevating to a new level but he should be able to score and distribute.

SURPRISING DEPARTURES

  • Caleb Swanigan, Purdue: It’s easy to see why a first-team All-American like Swanigan would want to go pro after such a monster sophomore season but he was on the fence until the final day so this one still hurts Purdue. With Swanigan back, Purdue was a huge contender to repeat its Big Ten regular-season title.
  • D.J. Wilson, Michigan: A huge presence on both ends for the Wolverines, Wilson was versatile enough at 6-foot-10 to leave early for the NBA Draft. Not many big men can knock down three-pointers and also protect the rim but Wilson moves really well for his size and gained a lot of confidence as the season went along.
  • JaQuan Lyle, Ohio State: The talented sophomore guard allegedly quit the team in April and it was only recently revealed after an arrest in May. Lyle’s loss hurts the Buckeyes in the short term as he’s one of their leading returning scorers and he’s also a playmaker for others.
  • Ed Morrow, Nebraska: Morrow is one of three transfers to leave Nebraska and go to other high-major programs but his loss stings the most. The bouncy sophomore forward was capable of double-double production and now has to sit out before finishing his career at Marquette.
Ethan Happ (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

COACHING CHANGES

  • Archie Miller, Indiana: The Hoosiers finally convinced Miller to leave a great thing at Dayton as he gets a chance to turn around one of the best programs in the country. There isn’t much for Indiana to work with this season but Miller as done miracles with less-than-ideal rosters before.
  • Brad Underwood, Illinois: After only a year at Oklahoma State, Illinois was able to swoop in and get Underwood for a long-term deal. Underwood has been successful at both of his stops as a head coach at Stephen F. Austin and with the Cowboys and the Illini are dying for NCAA tournament success after a rough last decade.

WAY-TOO-EARLY ALL-CONFERENCE PREDICTIONS

Miles Bridges, Michigan State (Player of the Year)
Nate Mason, Minnesota
Ethan Happ, Wisconsin
Bryant McIntosh, Northwestern
Vincent Edwards, Purdue

New Indiana coach Archie Miller (AP Photo/Tony Tribble)

WAY-TOO-EARLY POWER RANKINGS

  1. Michigan State: The Spartans have star power, a core that has played together and a lot of returning depth and experience. After last season’s up-and-down ride, this is a title contender if they’re healthy.
  2. Minnesota: Most of last season’s team has returned as guard Nate Mason leads the charge. Akeem Springs exhausted his eligibility but most of the core rotation is back and top-100 guard Isaiah Washington is an intriguing addition.
  3. Northwestern: Finally getting over the NCAA tournament hump, the Wildcats get nearly everyone back from last season’s team that made the Round of 32. Bryant McIntosh, Vic Law and Scottie Lindsey is one of the league’s premier trios and the Wildcats have great role players.
  4. Purdue: Seeing this team without Swanigan will be fascinating since so much of last season’s roster returns. Isaac Haas and Vincent Edwards should still be a load on the interior and P.J. Thompson, Dakota Mathias and Ryan Cline turned into a respectable perimeter group. Can this team play with athletic teams though?
  5. Maryland: Losing Melo Trimble effectively changes the identity of this program but the Terps still have plenty of promising players. Sophomores Anthony Cowan, Justin Jackson and Kevin Huerter all have a chance to be double-figure scorers. The key could be interior health and the play of inconsistent seniors like Dion Wiley and Jared Nickens.
  6. Michigan: Two transfers might be the key to this team as Jaaron Simmons and Kentucky transfer Charles Matthews could both be starters. If those two acclimate well to replace Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin then the Wolverines should be fine. Replacing D.J. Wilson will be tough but Moritz Wagner and Duncan Robinson are both veterans.
  7. Iowa: Arguably the Big Ten’s most intriguing team entering next season, the Hawkeyes have nearly everyone back from a team that defied expectations last season. Replacing Peter Jok will be tough but the rest of this team is balanced and capable of making a postseason run.
  8. Wisconsin: The core of Bronson Koenig, Nigel Hayes and Vitto Brown is gone, so the Badgers will have a lot of new faces in the starting lineup next season. The good news is the return of forward Ethan Happ but can Wisconsin’s system sustain such heavy losses?
  9. Illinois: The frontcourt is thin and the Illini are relying a lot on some new perimeter players, but they do have some backcourt talent. Freshman Te’Jon Lucas should grow in his second season and guards like Trent Frazier, Mark Smith and Mark Alstork are potentially solid additions who could start as well. Interior defense and rebounding will be a major question mark.
  10. Penn State: There were times last season that Penn State looked intriguing and most of the talent is back from that team. Tony Carr and Shep Garner are talented as a backcourt and Lamar Stevens, Josh Reaves and Mike Watkins also return.
  11. Indiana: The star power mostly left Bloomington with departures of O.G. Anunoby, Thomas Bryant and James Blackmon this offseason. Robert Johnson and Juwan Morgan will have to elevate their play while Indiana has a lot of unproven players.
  12. Ohio State:  Continuing a recent tailspin, Ohio State could add more pieces for next season, but the roster has been gutted. Thad Matta’s five-man 2015 recruiting class is now fully gone after only two seasons and only two freshman are entering the program.
  13. Nebraska: Getting hit once again by transfers, the Cornhuskers have to hope that junior point guard Glynn Watson takes another leap and that he has more talent emerge around him. Landing Thomas Allen was a nice recruiting grab that could help.
  14. Rutgers: It is slowly getting better at Rutgers but they still have to prove that they can win. Corey Sanders and Deshawn Freeman have both been with the program three seasons now and need to help get this program out of the Big Ten basement.