College Basketball Odds, Picks, Futures: 2022-23 Big Ten Conference Betting Preview

College Basketball Odds, Picks, Futures: 2022-23 Big Ten Conference Betting Preview article feature image

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images. Pictured: Coleman Hawkins (Illinois)

I love Big Ten basketball. I am a 99th-percentile Big Ten basketball fan. 

It’s okay to admit the conference is down this season.

Five All-Americans graduated or left for the draft, and the Big Ten can’t shake the postseason disappointment.

The league sent nine teams to the tournament last season, and only Michigan made the second weekend. Meanwhile, Purdue, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa all were upset in the first weekend as a five seed or better. 

Indiana is the consensus preseason favorite after finishing 9-11 in conference play last season.

Meanwhile, the conference’s middle tier is a discombobulated mess. 

But look on the bright side. Every game is going to be competitive, the league is wide open, and we could make an argument for any of the teams mentioned above to win the regular-season or tournament title. 

After all, Wisconsin ended up as co-regular season champs after being picked to finish eighth in preseason polls. And Iowa won the conference tournament as a five-seed last season.

So, what’s the state of the Big Ten as we enter 2022-23? Which teams could potentially surprise? Which teams could flounder? Are there any profitable betting angles? 

Let’s break it down. I’ll discuss every team in order of the current betting odds provided by FanDuel.

2022-23 Big Ten Regular Season Futures Odds

Odds (Via FanDuel)
Ohio State+800
Michigan State+1100
Penn State+5000

Indiana Hoosiers

Frankly, I don’t get it. 

The Hoosiers feature the same team from last season. Mike Woodson is back — alongside four starters and over 75% of the minutes — but that team was up and down and needed a magical late-season run to earn an at-large bid, before crashing in the second round.

Trayce Jackson-Davis is a legit Wooden Award candidate. He’s the most athletic two-way forward in college basketball. He will average 20/10 this season while being uber-efficient and producing highlight-reel plays on both ends of the floor.  

Trayce Jackson-Davis doing it all for the Hoosiers 👀

(via @br_CBB)

— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) November 10, 2021

I have numerous other problems with the Hoosiers. 

First, can Miller Kopp become a game-changer? His first year in Bloomington featured a paltry 6.0 points per game and he was merely average in spot-up situations (57th percentile in PPP). 

This frontcourt could be elite if Kopp performs to his 2022 Northwestern potential (39.6% from 3, 13.1 PPG). We know what we’re getting from TJD and frontcourt mate Race Thompson, but we don’t know what we’re getting from Kopp.

Otherwise, expect Tamar Bates to steal this starting spot. 

Second, this team won or lost with Xavier Johnson. Under XJ's leadership, Indiana couldn't keep up on the perimeter with the other elite guards in the Big Ten (Jaden Ivey, DeVante' Jones, et cetera). 

But something happened. XJ averaged 16.7 points with a 6.9:2.8 assist-to-turnover over his final nine games, resulting in Indiana’s miracle run. He shot 45% from the field and 50% from deep.

So, which Johnson are we going to get? Can he build any consistency? 

Enter five-star recruit Jalen Hood-Schifino, a consensus top-25 combo guard out of Montverde with exceptional court vision and defensive ability. He has the body type to succeed in a physical conference while scoring from multiple positions. 

Indiana commit Jalen Hood-Schifino was in complete control over Oak Hill in Montverde's blowout win. Finished with 24 and 6, ran the offense, shot well off the dribble, flashed some scoring craft in the lane, kept guys in front of him on defense. Fundamentally sharp, poised PG.

— Jonathan Wasserman (@NBADraftWass) December 3, 2021

But Hood-Schifino is still an unproven freshman. There’s a good chance he doesn’t live up to the hype. 

If that’s the case, Indiana will rely on Johnson and Trey Galloway again. That will result in inconsistent two-way perimeter play and an inability to space the floor for Jackson-Davis.

A top-10 defense, great depth (Galloway, Jordan Geronimo, Kopp-Bates duo), and Jackson-Davis give the Hoosiers a high floor. The ceiling is capped unless Woodson’s guard play improves. 

Because of that, I’m not buying the Hoosiers. However, a tough non-conference schedule means we will learn much about this squad early. They could become a quick buy or a quick sell, although I’m leaning toward selling. 

Michigan Wolverines

You can’t count Juwan Howard out. He’s 61-32 SU and 42-37 ATS overall since taking over for John Beilein, leading Michigan to the tournament’s second weekend in every try. 

If there was a year to count him out, this is the one. Just one starter returns and only a quarter of last year’s minutes. 

The one starter is Hunter Dickinson, who has become a consensus All-American and has only improved by developing his right hand and a 3-point shot (21-for-64 from deep last season). Michigan relied on him last season and he performed.

Photo by CBB Analytics

… and I see no reason why this season won’t be the same. 

But I look at Michigan and see questionable depth, inconsistent performers and many new roles. 

Let’s break the roster down. 

Kobe Bufkin is back at shooting guard and should slide into the Eli Brooks role easily. He’s likely the best perimeter defender, although consistent scoring can be an issue.

However, the more critical guard is Princeton grad transfer Jaelin Llewellyn. 

Howard has now recruited three straight mid-major guards to run his system with varying levels of success. But the Wolverines' season may live or die with the floor general again. 

Llewellyn is a quick, shifty guard who can shoot (40 3P%) and dish (2.6 APG) without turning the ball over (11.8 TO%). He theoretically fits perfectly with the Wolverines, given he’s excellent in ball screens and worked in an offense that revolves around its big man (Tosan Evbuomwan). 

⚜️ Available Transfer ⚜️

Jaelin Llewellyn
🧩Versatile Wing🧩
Princeton University
**1 Year of Eligibility Remaining**

15.8 PPG | 4.1 RPG | 2.6 APG| 39.6 3PT%

— Transfer Tapes (@TransferTapes) March 15, 2022

Meanwhile, Duke transfer Joey Baker will become the team’s sixth man. He was a top-40 recruit, but never got consistent playing time in Durham and thus is unproven — a scary prospect for a guy who may play 20 minutes per game. However, he’s a 40% 3-point shooter and plus-defender at his best. 

The wing positions will belong to Terrance Williams II and Jett Howard. 

Williams should space the floor well on the wing for Dickinson (38.5% from 3), play defense and rebound. He’s in line for a breakout season and could become this year’s version of Brandon Johns Jr.

But the more critical piece is Howard, coach Howard’s youngest son. The four-star recruit from IMG Academy has a good combination of size and shooting, with a mature offensive game.

He’s in line to replace scoring production on the wing, something Michigan has had in spades over the years. But how can Howard do it if Caleb Houstan couldn’t last year? 

This is how I see it: Michigan needs a lethal inside-out, two-man game between Llewellyn and Dickinson, consistent scoring from Howard and good shooting from Bufkin/Williams. 

That is much easier said than done and will require plenty of gelling. 

Meanwhile, the depth is highly questionable. Freshman Youssef Khayat has some Franz Wagner in him, but there is no book on him as he’s from Lebanon. Howard will depend on three other freshmen to play valuable reserve minutes, including Tarris Reed Jr. to backup Dickinson. 

I’m also apprehensive about the defense. Dickinson is a good rim protector, but is horrific in pick-and-roll defense (9th percentile in PnR PPP allowed).

Meanwhile, Llewellyn is no better (9th percentile in PnR PPP allowed).

The Wolverines might get ball-screened to death (similar to how Purdue was last season). 

Michigan has a high ceiling, but chemistry issues will arise. Given that, I’m looking to fade the Wolverines in early-season battles against: 

  • Eastern Michigan (Nov. 11, -16 KenPom spread)
  • Pittsburgh (Nov. 16, -7 KenPom Spread)
  • Ohio (Nov. 20, -13 KenPom Spread)
  • Virginia (Dec. 4, -1 KenPom Spread)

Illinois Fighting Illini

I adore this version of the Illini. I’m much higher on the Illini than most. 

Yes, Illinois lost 10 scholarship players and its top-five scorers from last season. But the returning players have a high upside, Brad Underwood brought in two high-impact transfers and the new roster features unlimited versatility. 

The Illini will revolve around Coleman Hawkins. Underwood was quoted in Blue Ribbon saying, “our system will be suited to Coleman.” He may not replicate what Kofi Cockburn can do offensively, but he’s a better shooter and moves better on defense, allowing more flexibility on both ends of the court. 

Hawkins did score 33 points while grabbing 28 boards in three games without Cockburn last season, proving he’s not as offensively inept as you might think.  

I was once again so impressed with Coleman Hawkins yesterday.

Played aggressive, played smart, played under control, and most importantly, brought so much energy.

He may be Illinois biggest X-factor come March

— #14 Fighting Illini 😤 (@TheIlliniFN) February 25, 2022

Underwood is pairing Hawkins with Baylor transfer Matthew Mayer in the frontcourt. Mayer never lived up to his potential in Waco, but he should take a step up against Big Ten defenses.

Mayer is a matchup nightmare on the offensive end, given he’s a 6-foot-9 stretch four who can score from all three levels. He also ranked in the 86th percentile of defenders in isolation situations (.500 PPP allowed, just 12 points in 24 possessions). 

Matthew Mayer made this look too smooth 🥶 (via @espn)

— SLAM University (@slam_university) January 5, 2022

Finally, Texas Tech transfer Terrence Shannon Jr. is one of the best two-way guards in the Big Ten, and he might also benefit from a step down in competition.

He’s projected to be the Illini’s highest scorer this season while also being one of the best perimeter defenders in the conference. 

Terrence Shannon's interceptions & fumble recoveries go to the house.

— Tech Hoops Guy (@TechHoopsGuy) February 27, 2020

Point guard is the most significant question mark. Four-star recruit Skyy Clark should earn the starting job, and he was once considered the No. 1 point guard in the country before he tore his ACL. 

It’s always tough depending on a freshman to run the point, but he could be Big Ten Newcomer of the Year if he lives up to his potential. 

Filling out the roster is wing RJ Melendez — a 6-foot-7 sophomore who scored 1.217 PPP on offense (99th percentile) while allowing .750 PPP on defense (79th percentile) — and Luke Goode, who shot 37% from 3 last season. 

Depth is also a concern. But the Illini have the most dangerous and versatile big three in the Big Ten and several key contributors with high ceilings. Underwood is also coaching them all. 

Illinois has a versatile, positionless, two-way roster with an unlimited ceiling. BartTorvik’s projections have Illinois as the second-best team in the Big Ten behind Indiana, and I’m leaning toward selling Indiana. 

Illinois is my top play to win the Big Ten regular season. 

Iowa Hawkeyes

I am expecting another high-octane Fran McCaffery offense. Every projection system I rely on has Iowa as a top-10 offense, with it reaching as high as No. 3 at EvanMiya. 

But uncertainty looms in Iowa City. 

First, who are you starting at point guard? 

It seems that junior Ahron Ulis will get the job. He’s theoretically the perfect fit, with good assist numbers and a relatively strong ability to get to the line. 

But why not start Connor McCaffery? He’s a redshirt senior who understands this offense and finished top-15 among Big Ten guards in assist rate in three consecutive seasons. 

I ask the question because point guard is overly vital in McCaffery’s offense. Iowa runs so fast and is so reliant on crisp passing. Jordan Bohannon and Joe Toussaint tag-teamed that position to perfection, and both are gone in favor of unproven commodities. 

The frontcourt should be okay, if not outright good. Expect Filip Rebraca to take a big step, likely averaging double digits.

I’m worried about Patrick McCaffery’s efficiency with an uptick in usage, but another year under Fran should alleviate those worries.

Tony Perkins provides a steady-and-reliable backcourt force. 

All eyes are on Kris Murray. He technically profiles as every other Iowa big man, and he projects to have Iowa’s highest ORtg and usage rate while averaging 17 points and seven rebounds per game. 

But I don’t want to compare Kris to Keegan (or Luka Garza), and the Hawkeyes' defense isn’t going to be any better. The floor is also low with Iowa, given the backcourt turnover. 

A road-game coin-flip against Seton Hall on Nov. 16 will shed some light on the Hawkeyes' questions. 

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Purdue Boilermakers

I don’t know what to make of the Boilermakers. There is massive roster turnover and lots of talent was lost.

Zach Edey is the main frontcourt guy now. That could be great, as Edey is one of the most efficient scorers in college basketball and will receive more minutes with Trevion Williams gone. 

Photo by CBB Analytics

However, how Edey handles the extra minutes is TBD. 

There is heavy wing depth on this team. Mason Gillis, Caleb Furst, Brandon Newman and Ethan Morton all return, joining Utah transfer David Jenkins Jr. All are 40% shooters from deep, meaning the Boilermakers can space the floor for Edey to dominate in the paint. 

The problem is in the backcourt. It’s impossible to replace Ivey, and there’s a chance Painter will look to three-star recruit Braden Smith to run the point. This could also be a problem defensively, given how Purdue was shredded by ball screens last season. 

This is what I make of the Boilermakers this season:

I think Painter surrounds Edey with plug-and-play shooting wings that spread the floor. Furst and redshirt freshman Trey Kaufman-Renn will provide rest for Edey, who may still be limited in minutes.

Painter will look to Smith to run the offense, but will happily fall back on Morton to manage the half-court motion offense. 

Projections make Purdue a high-octane offense with questionable defense. I believe this is the ceiling. The floor is a backcourt collapse and Edey can’t replicate his efficiency with higher minutes. 

Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio State has just one returning starter in center Zed Key. But the Buckeyes brought in the Big Ten’s top recruiting class and three transfers I love. 

Isaac “Ice” Likekele comes from Oklahoma State as a wing with some playmaking ability, but he’s more of a defensive reinforcement. He was one of the most effective man-to-man defenders in the country last season (.698 PPP allowed, 87th percentile), and Chris Holtmann’s squad needs defense.

Besides, West Virginia’s Sean McNeil and Wright State’s Tanner Holden will provide plenty of offense. 

McNeil had some efficiency issues — especially at the end of the season — but shouldn’t have any issues canning 12-to-15 points per game.

Meanwhile, Holden lit up the Horizon League for 20 points per game at Wright State, dominating interior defenses with slashes and creative paint scoring. 

Tanner Holden with the SLAM for @WSU_MBB 😳

He has 27 points heading down the stretch

— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) March 17, 2022

Holden will have to adjust to Big Ten defenses and needs to develop a 3-point shot, but a sixth-man role should hide his deficiencies.

Justice Sueing is back from injury and will instantly become the Buckeyes’ No. 1 scoring option if he’s healthy. 

If Sueing’s body holds up, expect your typical Holtmann-led team. The Buckeyes will feature a slow-paced, killer offensive attack while playing questionable defense. 

Questions arise about depth and experience. The Buckeyes brought four four-star recruits, including two athletic, two-way wings, Brice Sensabaugh and Roddy Gayle Jr., who will be asked to provide bench scoring immediately. 

Holtmann will also rely on freshman Bruce Thornton to play point guard. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Georgia product is stocky and tough enough to compete in the physical Big Ten, while also bringing a surprisingly smooth pull-up shot. 

Ohio State freshman Bruce Thornton got straight to it in his Kingdom League debut 🗣

— Jake Spegal (@JakeSpegal270) July 4, 2022

Expect Likekele to split point guard duties with Thornton. 

There is a lot of talent and versatility on this roster, alongside a great mix of freshmen and upperclassmen. Potential potholes include feeding freshmen so many minutes, team chemistry and overall health. Plus, the defense will never be good under Holtmann. 

I’m excited to see the Buckeyes battle Duke in late November. Both squads are athletic and young. The moment could be too big for Thornton and Co., though, given the game is being played at Cameron Indoor. 

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Michigan State Spartans

I’m cautiously optimistic about Michigan State. 

The backcourt of Tyson Walker and A.J. Hoggard is arguably the best in the nation. Both finished top-15 nationally in assist rate last season and should only improve in their second season in the Tom Izzo system.

Meanwhile, Tre Holloman is a four-star recruit out of Minnesota that provides backcourt depth in East Lansing. He beat out Chet Holmgren and Jalen Suggs as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Player of the Year and became Minnesota’s Gatorade Player of the Year. 

Joey Hauser returns as a fifth-year senior who shot 40% from 3 in 2021-22. He’s joined by leading returning scorer Malik Hall, who can fill it up from all three levels. 

But there are three big questions. 

First, there is no big-man talent on this roster. Sparty is replacing Marcus Bingham Jr. with 6-foot-9 Mady Sissoko. Sissoko averaged four minutes per game last season.

So, who will guard the Dickinsons, Edeys and Jackson-Davis' of the world? 

Second, only 10 scholarship players are on the roster, bringing up depth concerns. 

Finally, there is no clear star on this roster, and Sparty hasn’t had one since Cassius Winston left. Several players can step into that role, however. 

The most likely scenario is Walker starts scoring with more consistency. Walker had his signature game against Illinois last year — when he scored 18 of his career-high 26 points in the final six minutes as the Spartans almost pulled off a 16-point second-half comeback. 

Walker also pulled this off. 


— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) February 26, 2022

Either Hauser or Hall could break out this season. Additionally, Jaden Akins is in line for a big year. He’s always been a plus defender and could see a considerable uptick in scoring if he slashes effectively. 

The Sparty pieces are in place, and college basketball is still a guard’s game, despite the game’s recent frontcourt improvements. 

Perhaps that is why projections are so high on Sparty. KenPom projects Michigan State as the league’s fifth-best team, BartTorvik marks Sparty for third and EvanMiya has the Spartans as the best team in the Big Ten. 

The odds would have to be higher than 6-to-1 for me to take a flyer on Michigan State to win the Big Ten. However, I am eager to bet on the Spartans' backcourt in the early season. 

Michigan State is currently +1000 to win the Phil Knight Invitational at DraftKings. The five teams in front of the Spartans include North Carolina, Alabama, Oregon, UConn and Villanova. I see holes in all five opponents. 

I also see value in the Spartans in a Nov. 11 matchup with Gonzaga, which is taking place on the USS Midway in San Diego. Michigan State should be catching close to 10 points, and I expect the experienced guards to handle a Bulldogs roster in flux — especially in a primetime game like this one. 

Wisconsin Badgers

Are we going to underestimate Greg Gard again? 

The Badgers were picked to finish at the low end of the pack last season before Johnny Davis became an All-American. 

If another Badger were to break out, I’d take a good look at Chucky Hepburn. Hepburn won the starting point guard job when he stepped on campus and exceeded expectations. He grew stronger as the season went on, too, averaging nine points per game with a 2.5 assist-to-turnover ratio. 

Hepburn also hit this shot in March. 


— Mr Matthew CFB (@MrMatthewCFB) March 2, 2022

Wisco runs a lot of pick-and-roll, ranking 56th in PnR frequency nationally. Hepburn was lights out in those sets, ranking in the 84th percentile of ball-handlers with .929 PPP. 

Other breakout candidates include returning forwards Tyler Wahl and Steven Crowl.

Wahl is projected to lead the team in scoring and rebounding, but he also could lead the team in steals and blocks. He’s a very effective two-way forward.

Meanwhile, Crowl stands 7-foot tall and can stretch defenses by shooting 32% from 3. He’s also up to 245 pounds, meaning he can battle the league's best big men.

Everything points toward a good defense. Wofford transfer Max Klesmit and Green Bay transfer Kamari McGee are two guards that will play tough on that end (with the former showing double-digit scoring ability). By the season's end, they could sneak into the top 25 in defensive efficiency. 

However, Wisconsin won 12 straight games by five points or less in between Nov. 23 and March 1, pointing towards regression. And Hepburn will have to turn into an All-Big Ten guard for the Badgers to replicate last season’s results.

I show no projected value on Wisco. 

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

I’m low on Rutgers because of what Ron Harper Jr. did for the Scarlet Knights. 

However, Cam Spencer is an incredible transfer portal grab for Steve Pikiell. The Loyola (MD) transfer lit up the Patriot League last season for 20 points per game with one of the nation’s highest usage rates (29% over his last five games). He also led the Patriot League in steals (2.3 SPG). 

Spencer is a true three-level scorer with a smooth stroke and has the bag to counter Big Ten defenses. 

Watch out for Loyola (Md.) transfer guard Cam Spencer, has a smooth stroke.

Averaged 18.9ppg on 46.8% last season.

— Rutgers Scarlet Knights | TheKnightReport.Net (@RutgersRivals) August 8, 2022

Expect more of the same from Paul Mulcahy (assist numbers) and Cliff Omoruyi (rim protection, rebounding, interior scoring). Caleb McConnell is one of the country's best defenders and leads the team's highest-upside unit. 

The Scarlet Knights have a chance to be elite defensively. They have length at every position and Pikiell will force a defensive mindset on the squad. Plus, the coach has 10 or 11 guys he can play. 

KenPom, BartTorvik and EvanMiya all project Rutgers as a top-20 defensive team this season. 

Offensively, it’s a mixed bag. One of Mawot Mag, Aundre Hyatt, Dean Reiber or Jalen Miller will have to step up. Spencer will score plenty — especially if Mulcahy hits him in the right spots — but I don’t think that will be enough to get over missing Harper and Geo Baker. 

I’d look toward underdog angles when betting on Rutgers. It'll play at a sub-300 pace with an elite defense, and it’ll be tough for opponents to cover any spread.

The Scarlet Knights went 11-4 ATS as an underdog last year and Pikiell’s Knights are 37-21-1 (63.8%) ATS as an underdog over the previous four seasons. 

An early-season matchup with Miami (FL) will be a great spot to back Rutgers (Nov. 30). KenPom makes the spread Miami -4, while BartTorvik makes it Miami -7.  

Penn State Nittany Lions

Penn State is the league’s sleeper team. 

The Nittany Lions are experienced, will be frisky and are coached by a bonafide stud in Micah Shrewsberry. Shrewsberry is still working on a “project” of sorts, but this could be a year where the Nittany Lions make a big jump. 

For starters, five of the top eight players in the rotation are in their fifth year of college basketball. That experience level is unmatched in the Big Ten and potentially in all college hoops. 

The roster starts with Jalen Pickett, my pick for First Team All-Big Ten guard. He could average close to 20 points per game this season, given he’s aggressive and sees an uptick in efficiency.

Even if the efficiency doesn’t go up, it’s hard to find a guard who ranks above the 90th percentile in assist-to-turnover rate (2.45) and above the 70th percentile in PPP allowed (.776). 

The second-leading scorer should be Seth Lundy, renowned for his defensive ability. “Lockdown Lundy” was one of the best perimeter isolation defenders in the country last season, often bringing opposing Big Ten scorers to their knees. 

As a primary defender, Lundy and Penn State held:

  • Wisconsin’s Davis to his only single-digit game of the season
  • Rutgers’ Harper to seven points
  • Purdue’s Ivey to 12 points
  • Iowa’s Murray to a combined 10-for-31 shooting in two games

Meanwhile, Myles Dread returns and Shrewsberry will plug in two other transfers. 

Camren Wynter gets plugged in as the fourth guard in Shrewsberry’s four-guard, one-big lineup. Wynter used his silky-smooth ball-handling to slash, pass and shoot his way to three All-CAA selections at Drexel.

He posted a career-low 3-point percentage last season, but that could rebound playing with three Big Ten guards. 

Camren Wynter with the fadeaway for two!

— Drexel Men's Basketball (@DrexelMBB) March 6, 2022

Shrewsberry also brought in transfers Andrew Funk (Bucknell) and Mikey Henn (Denver) to boost the two-way depth.

The only question is the frontcourt. The rebounding, toughness and leadership that John Harrar brought to University Park is irreplaceable. Shrewsberry plans to fill the frontcourt with two 6-foot-10 freshmen in Kebba Njie and Demetrius Lilley to fill that hole. 

Rebounding is an issue, but the offense will improve, and I expect Shrewsberry to instill a familiar defensive toughness in this year’s group. The Nittany Lions feature enough experienced ballplayers to make it all mesh. 

I’m buying the Nittany Lions to win the Big Ten. I’m also targeting them as underdogs in early-season games against Clemson (Nov. 29), Michigan State (Dec. 7) and Illinois (Dec. 10). 

Maryland Terps

The Terps are tough to project. 

This is a senior-laden team. Four seniors will start, including two fifth-year grad transfers in the backcourt. The center position will be held down by a sophomore, while three main bench pieces are upperclassmen. 

Kevin Willard is the new coach, and that will be an upgrade over either Mark Turgeon or Danny Manning. But he’s taking over a team that slid to its first losing record since 1993 last year. 

Hakim Hart and Donta Scott should both average 15 points per game off of the wings. Both can rebound, defend and score from all three levels (although Scott struggled with efficiency last season). 

We know what we’re getting from the Terps' frontcourt, but Maryland’s backcourt has the widest array of potential outcomes in the conference. 

Charlotte transfer Jahmir Young is a baller, and he’s rightfully the starting point guard. He averaged 20 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists per game while becoming a First Team All-C-USA guard.

He played in every game and was the only league player to score double-digits in every contest, scoring 20 or more in 17 games. 

Jahmir Young: CLT

6’2 G returns as one of the best players in Conf USA entering 21-22. Young constantly puts pressure on defenses with his crafty driving ability / run in transition.

4th in scoring @ConferenceUSA
1st Team All

— Nxt1sColin (@Nxt1sColinBrown) June 22, 2021

Meanwhile, he’s joined by Georgetown transfer Don Carey. Carey shot 34% from 3 while averaging 14 points per game in the Big East. He’s a veteran who will be playing in his fourth conference and brings many skills to the Terps. 

But how will Young’s skills transfer from the C-USA? How will Carey’s skills transfer from the Big East? 

Plus, neither is a plus-defender. And the Terps already have a size and rebounding issue.

Center Julian Reese was top-30 nationally in offensive rebounding rate last season, but he needs to grab a ton of boards for the Terps. 

In the end, Maryland is probably due for a .500 conference record. I’d also look to fade the Terps in an early-season non-conference matchup with UCLA (Dec. 14), where they’re projected as short home dogs.

The Young-Carey backcourt is in for a massive test against Tyger Campbell. 

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Minnesota Golden Gophers

Ben Johnson was a surprise hire in Minneapolis two years ago. He is now wholly rebuilding his roster for the second straight season. Only Illinois returns a fewer percentage of last season’s minutes.

This team will look similar to last year’s team, however. Jamison Battle will average close to 20 points per game and North Carolina wingman Dawson Garcia is an excellent wing-mate who should also score in the mid-teens. 

Only 2 Power Conference players averaged 17+ PPG, under 1.5 TO:

Keegan Murray and Jamison Battle.

Battle is one of the most efficient high-volume scorers in the country and scores in just about every way imaginable. Great player for Ben Johnson and the Gophers to build around.

— Danny Johnson (@dannyjohnson_23) October 18, 2022

The rest of the roster is dry. Ta’Lon Cooper will start at point guard after 95 starts with Morehead State, and Dartmouth graduate Taurus Samuels backs him up.

Johnson brings in five recruits, but none are four-star and the nation’s No. 226 overall recruit, Braeden Carrington, is likely to start in the backcourt.

Meanwhile, forward Isaiah Ihnen re-injured his knee and will miss his second straight season, a devastating loss for the Gophers and a sad development for Ihnen.

Battle and Garcia will go thermonuclear and carry Minnesota to a couple of big upsets, mainly when catching opposing Big Ten teams in sleepy spots. Otherwise, I’d project Minnesota for five conference wins and a last-place finish. 

Northwestern Wildcats

Northwestern brings back everything on the perimeter. Four starters return, including the backcourt duo of Boo Buie and Chase Audige. 

Buie should be an all-conference guard. So much of Northwestern’s offense and playmaking relies on him, and he’s pegged to have one of the conference’s top usage rates this season.

He’s such a consistent force that I have no worries about his backcourt production. 

Boo Buie was on fire yesterday vs Michigan State, putting up 30 PTS (9-15 FG, 5-6 3PT). He showed really deep range & some nice finishing, but I'd love to see more consistency from Buie throughout the season.

Buie also had a great game vs Michigan State last year w/ 26 points

— Zach Milner (@ZachMilner13) December 22, 2020

Audige needs a significant rebound in his scoring efficiency. He shot just 40% from the field and 25% from 3 last season, leading to one of the league’s lower ORtg’s (88.4).

But his upside is an elite two-way all-conference guard. 

Robbie Beran and Julian Roper II fill out the roster and will likely play on the wing. Neither are overwhelming forces, but generally provide Big Ten-level basketball. The two primarily provide continuity. 

I’m excited to watch Brooks Barnhizer and Ty Berry play in the second unit. Barnheizer’s high school reputation precedes himself, as he led the state of Indiana in scoring in 2020-21 (33 PPG).

Meanwhile, Berry is projected for double-digit scoring this year. 

However, Pete Nance and Ryan Young were lured away by the transfer portal, which is devastating for Chris Collins’ squad. The frontcourt hole is enormous. 

UTEP grad transfer Tydus Verhoeven will start at center after two years at UTEP and freshman Luke Hunger backs him up out of Montreal.

But Verhoeven had mediocre C-USA numbers and Hunger — while boasting a colossal frame (6-foot-10, 255 pounds) — was just a three-star recruit out of high school. 

The ceiling for Northwestern is riding its backcourt to a middle-of-the-pack finish behind all-conference play from Buie and Audige. If that happens, Northwestern should make the NCAA tournament. 

Northwestern was 331st in KenPom’s Luck ratings last season, as its first seven losses came by six points or less. The Wildcats are due for positive regression. 

But Collins always falters in February and March. After upsetting Indiana for their third straight victory on Feb. 8, Collins’ Wildcats lost five of the final seven games and were subsequently rocked by Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament. 

That same result is as likely as any. 

Nebraska Cornhuskers

Last season was Fred Hoiberg’s campaign to start winning. The Cornhuskers pulled off three electric upset road wins to end the Big Ten season last year, over Penn State, Ohio State and Wisconsin. 

But Nebraska finished 4-16 in conference play. Now, Alonzo Verge Jr. and Bryce McGowens are both gone. 

I love the transfers that Hoiberg brought in. Sam Griesel is one of the best buys in the Big Ten, an offensive weapon that averaged 15 points per game with a 115 ORtg in the Summit last season. He’s a 6-foot-6 player that can handle, dish or shoot the ball. 

Grisel brings some verticality to Lincoln, too. 

Sam Griesel takes flight!

The North Dakota State transfer already has his first highlight in a Nebraska

— Heat Check CBB (@HeatCheckCBB) October 24, 2022

I also think sharpshooter Emmanuel Bandoumel, Alabama transfer Juwan Gary and highly-recruited JUCO prospect Blaise Keita create one of the best Power Five transfer classes. 

In fact, BartTorvik ranks Nebraska’s transfer class as tops in the Big Ten by its Transfer Points metric. 

But Hoiberg is still the coach and the Huskers are still relying on guys like C.J. Wilcher and Wilhelm Breidenbach for heavy minutes. There are just seven players on the roster with any collegiate experience, and the rest are incoming or redshirt freshmen.

Hoiberg did hire South Alabama’s Adam Howard to the coaching staff, the architect of South Alabama’s defense that led it to a top-50 defensive turnover mark. You could see more aggressiveness on defense from the Huskers and a hopefully improved rebounding rate. 

Moreover, I’d expect Nebraska to slow the pace a touch. Replacing Verge for Griesel means you should run a different offense. That could lead to an improved underdog ATS record. 

But the ceiling for Nebraska is just that, a good underdog ATS record. 

Big Ten Futures & Picks

To recap:

I'm targeting two teams to win the Big Ten regular-season title:

  • Illinois
  • Penn State

Additionally, some other general angles I'm looking at include:

  • A quick buy or sell of Indiana based on non-conference results
  • Rutgers as an underdog
  • Penn State as an underdog
  • Minnesota to finish last in the Big Ten
  • Michigan State to win Phil Knight Invitational (+1000)

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