The Hoosiers find themselves at the top of almost every preseason poll on the national level, and the same is true in the Big Ten. IU returns every player who scored against Kentucky in the 102-90 Sweet Sixteen loss. A nationally ranked recruiting class joins the five returning starters, and Tom Crean’s fifth season in Bloomington has the makings of a deep run into March Madness.
After much speculation following the Wolverines’ opening-round loss to Ohio, freshman point guard Trey Burke will return to Ann Arbor next season. With Burke and sophomore guard Tim Hardaway Jr. on the perimeter, the Wolverines have one of the best starting backcourts in the nation. Despite a trio of players transferring in the offseason, Michigan has reloaded with an impressive recruiting class.
3. Michigan state
Trying to replace Big Ten Player of the Year Draymond Green is no easy task, but Coach Tom Izzo has the résumé to keep the Spartans near the top of the conference. Gary Harris might be the most heralded freshman heading to the Big Ten next year and will join a backcourt of Keith Appling and Branden Dawson. However, one could say senior forward Derrick Nix hasn’t taken his new leadership role very seriously after being arrested earlier this month.
For the normally squeaky-clean Badgers, it’s been an interesting offseason in Madison with the very public transfer of freshman Jarrod Uthoff. Wisconsin will also try to replace graduated point guard Jordan Taylor. The Badgers do return their other four starters and bring in five-star freshman Sam Dekker.
5. Ohio State
The Buckeyes brought in one of the highest-ranked recruiting classes in the nation last year but didn’t need its production in 2011-12. That class could emerge this fall with the departure of William Buford and Jared Sullinger. Sophomore forward Deshaun Thomas emerged during the NCAA Tournament, and he and point guard Aaron Craft will be counted on heavily if OSU wants to make another long NCAA Tournament run.
Minnesota Coach Tubby Smith received some good news when the NCAA granted forward Trevor Mbakwe a sixth year of eligibility. It will be on Mbakwe’s shoulders to help put the Gophers in the NCAA Tournament. The Gophers return every regular except center Ralph Sampson III and will be led by NBA prospects Mbakwe and forward Rodney Williams.
2012-13 Big Ten basketball power Rankings