Men’s Basketball Around the Big Ten: Week One
College basketball is back. Dave Arroyo, Brian McLaughlin, Eric Chamblis and Joe Murphy break down the week one matchups around the Big Ten.
As the start of the college basketball looms ever so closer, the team that is going to win the Big Ten is becoming a bit of a mystery. Sure, teams like Maryland and Indiana return major pieces, but other teams like Michigan State and Wisconsin have teams primed for the regular season crown.
The first contender to win the Big Ten crown is the Wisconsin Badgers, who open the season ranked ninth in the nation according to the AP poll. The reason people are so high on the Badgers is they return their top four scorers, three of which who could contend for All-Big Ten Honors.
Nigel Hayes is the Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year and put up 15.7 points per game last year in what was a bit of a poor year for him. His shooting percentage has to be better than 36.8 percent for Wisconsin to win the Big Ten.
Senior Bronson Koenig brings poise to the Wisconsin attack and is a capable shooter, connecting on 39 percent of his threes last year. Koenig will need to average more than three assists a game for the Badgers, something he did not do last season.
Ethan Happ exceeded everyone’s expectations last year, averaging 12.7 and almost eight rebounds on 53.8 percent shooting. His numbers will go up, meaning he could potentially contend for Big Ten Player of the Year.
After a shocking tournament loss to Middle Tennessee State, Michigan State bring a mix of experience and youth to the Big Ten table. The Spartans lack size in the middle, so a healthy Gavin Schilling is vital for their success.
The senior center injured his knee in the preseason, leaving Michigan State quite thin in the frontcourt. Add the injury to graduate transfer Ben Carter and Michigan State have only two healthy players taller than 6’8.”
Regardless, the Spartans season will go on the play of Eron Harris and Mile Bridges. Harris is the leading returning scorer for Michigan State, averaging 9.3 points per game last year.
Harris shot greater than 43 percent on his threes last year and he is a capable scorer. Look for him to put more than 15 a game for the Spartans to contend for the crown. Bridges is the top freshman recruit to enter the Big Ten this season and he brings a lot of hype.
The athletic small forward brings a mix of athleticism and a good face-up to the table for the Spartans. He will easily win the Big Ten Freshman of the Year as no other freshman in the conference has his talent and Michigan State desperately needs his talents to succeed.
Indiana returns James Blackmon, Jr. and Thomas Bryant, but this team lost star point guard Yogi Ferrell, meaning they will struggle with point guard throughout the season if they do not find a viable option early.
Maryland returns potential Big Ten Player of the Year candidate Melo Trimble, but he is the only returning starter for Maryland, so look for the Terrapins to struggle at points throughout the season.
The Big Ten is conference full of top notch teams, but the Wisconsin Badgers will prove to be the league’s best by season’s end.
Joseph Esquivel-Murphy is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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