It’s time to break down the most competitive conference in college basketball.
Six teams from the Big Ten ended last season ranked, while nine programs racked up 20 or more wins. Heading into a season in which 9 or 10 schools have legitimate NCAA Tournament aspirations, it’s the perfect time to lift the hood and examine the B1G.
Let’s get this Big Ten basketball season preview started by taking a peek at the odds.
Big Ten Basketball Tournament Odds
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According to Big Ten basketball odds at the safest betting sites, four teams have separated themselves from the rest of the pack. Iowa holds a slim lead at the top with three universities breathing down their neck.
I’ll get to a potential sleeper team in the conference shortly, but let’s first take a closer look at the prime contenders.
Four Clear Contenders in the Big Ten
Sorry fans in Columbus and Ann Arbor – Ohio State and Michigan are on the outside looking in. With that in mind, let’s zero in on the Big Ten contenders.
Fran McCaffrey’s group is an offensive juggernaut. The top-scoring team in the B1G a year ago received an immeasurable boost when Luka Garza decided to return for his season. Nevertheless, the Hawkeyes backcourt is loaded with scorers (Joe Wieskamp, CJ Fredrick), plus Jordan Bohannon is finally healed from having surgery on his right hip.
Illinois Fighting Illini
Look out for the Fighting Illini to make some noise in March Madness. My Big Ten pick to win the conference tournament is led by Ayo Dosunmu – a slashing guard who is on everybody’s shortlist of “best college basketball players.”
The accolades continue to pour in for Ayo Dosunmu who is named an AP Preseason All-American, story: https://t.co/wnBZ1ohC2e
Now factor in the scoring capabilities of Trent Frazier and four-star shooting guard Adam Miller. That, combined with 7’0” 285-pound Kofi Cockburn in the middle, makes Illinois a legitimate threat to cut the nets down.
Michigan State Spartans
The departures of Cassius Winston and Zavier Tillman mean Tom Izzo has to rebuild in East Lansing. Then again, Coach Izzo has been a master at fielding championship-caliber teams regardless of his situation.
Mady Sissoko is an intriguing center prospect who should carve out a role, and Marquette transfer Joey Hauser is eligible after sitting out in 2019-20. As long as Rocket Watts can make strides as a sophomore, expect to see the Spartans challenging for the B1G crown.
Greg Gard should be excited about the upcoming season. The Badgers ended last season ranked 17th in America and have the luxury of bringing back all five of their top scorers.
Seniors Micah Potter and Nate Reuvers will lead the way, as well as mentor true frosh Ben Carlson. This is a well-balanced team that plays a disciplined style on both ends of the floor.
Who’s a Big Ten Sleeper?
Michigan should certainly improve under the guidance of Juwan Howard, but the Wolverines seem to be a year or two away. On the other hand, the Indiana Hoosiers could be a Big Ten sleeper team that could leap to the top of the standings.
On top of luring in a five-star PG (Khristian Lander) and a four-star wing (Jordan Geronimo), Archie Miller can lean on a rising sophomore who is captivating everyone in Bloomington.
Trayce Jackson-Davis balled out as a freshman (13.5 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 56.6% from the field) and will be even better in year two.
The Best Players in the Big Ten
A Big Ten basketball preview isn’t complete without showcasing the best players in the conference. Note that had I included four guys in this segment, IU’s Trayce Jackson-Davis would have rounded out the list.
Luka Garza – Iowa
Luka Garza isn’t just one of the Wooden Award contenders – he’s the guy everyone is pointing is as the favorite to claim the award. The dude dropped 24/10 last year and chipped in with 1.8 blocks per game, but he’s not just some big guy who clogs up the post. Garza has elite footwork and an incredibly high basketball IQ.
Ayo Dosunmu – Illinois
Joining Garza as a preseason First-Team All-American, Ayo Dosunmu is electric with the ball in his hands. If he can elevate his outside shot and evolve into a reliable jump shooter, you can expect to hear his name called as a lottery pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.
Marcus Carr – Minnesota
The Golden Gophers point guard was outstanding as a sophomore. Marcus Carr possesses good size and strength for a PG and made a living off filling up the stat sheet.
If the Toronto native can continue on his upward trend, we should see a few triple-double performances.
College Basketball Previews for Other Power Five Conferences
Now that you’re in tune with a Big Ten basketball preview, it’s a great time to peek at the other Power Five conferences.
As a former Division I collegiate golfer, Michael Wynn loves writing about golf. He's also an expert in most of America's most popular sports, writing extensively for GamblingSites.com on football, basketball, and baseball.
Michael's a Las Vegas native and has been with the company since 2017.