The Big Ten has cemented itself as one of the top two conferences in college basketball over the last three years. Big Ten basketball has finished first in NET conference rankings in 2021 and second in the previous two years. The conference has received 27 NCAA tournament bids over this stretch – – the most by any conference — and had 11 teams participate in the postseason last year (eight NCAA). While the Big Ten hasn’t had an overabundance of success in the NCAA tournament recently, Michigan reached the Sweet 16 (2021 and 2022), and Michigan State did so last year.
Saying all that, expect the Big Ten to be one of the top conferences in college basketball yet again in 2023-24. Purdue and Michigan State are among the top college basketball picks heading into the season, as both squads are consensus top six teams. Meanwhile, Wisconsin is lurking outside the ranked teams.
But if you are looking for the best college basketball bets today for future winners, consider a few other teams in the conference. The following will examine teams to watch for 2023-24 in the Big Ten.
Big Ten Teams With Storylines to Watch in 2023
Maryland has been one of the most consistent teams in the conference since joining the Big Ten. The Terrapins went 22-13 in their first year under well-respected head coach Kevin Willard, marking the program’s sixth 20-win season in the last nine seasons.
Willard gets the return of three starters, led by the squad’s leading scorer and assist man Jahmir Young. Donta Scott and Julian Reese are the other returning starters for a team that ranked 28th in scoring defense. The Terps also brought in seven newcomers to help replenish their depth, as Williard typically used a seven-man rotation. Four-star 2023 recruits DeShawn Harris-Smith and Jaime Kaiser are the top incoming freshmen, while Jordan Geronimo and Chance Stephens are potential impact transfers.
Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State always has to be a team to watch, with Tom Izzo running the show. But this year’s squad might be Izzo’s best since the 2019 Spartans squad went to the Final Four. Sparty returns four starters and six of their top-8 players from last year’s team that made a surprise run to the Sweet 16. Tyson Walker, A.J. Hoggard, and Jaden Akins comprise one of the top starting backcourts in the Big Ten. Izzo also brought in a consensus top-10 recruiting class led by a pair of five stars prospects in forward Xavier Booker and point guard Jeremy Fears.
Nebraska is coming off its first nonlosing season in four years, posting a 16-16 record, including 9-11 in Big Ten play – their most victories since winning 13 conference games during 2013-14. Last year marked the third straight year that the Huskers conference win total improved under Fred Hoiberg, going from four to nine in 2022-23.
Hoiberg returns three of his top-6 players from a year ago. Keisei Tominga, one of the top shooters in the conference, was second on the team in scoring and led the squad with 2.1 treys a game. Leading rebounder and defensive ace Juwon Gary, who suffered a season-ending injury in January, also returns, as does senior guard C.J. Wilcher. The Cornhuskers also brought in four transfers who should contribute, Brice Williams, Rienk Mast, Ahron Ulis, and Josiah Allick.
Chris Collins saved his job with the outstanding work he did last year. Northwestern won 22 games last year; their 12 Big Ten victories were a program record. Collins gets two-thirds of his starting backcourt back with Boo Buie, a 2022-23 All-Big Ten second-team selection, and Ty Berry. Leading rebounder Matthew Nicholson and sixth-man Brooks Barnhizer also return. Princeton transfer Ryan Longborg leads six newcomers.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State lost its top two scorers. But the Buckeyes return starting point guard Bruce Thornton and leading rebounder Zed Key. Top-reserve Roddy Gayle is also back, while Chris Holtmann brought in a consensus top-20 recruiting class. In addition, Holtmann brought in three transfers led by ex-Minnesota Gopher Jamison Battle.
Purdue has been one of the top teams in the nation for the last couple of years. The reigning Big Ten regular and tournament champions return all five starters and seven of their top-9 players from last season, including Wooden Award winner Zach Edey. Matt Painter, one of the league’s top coaches, also brought in Southern Illinois transfer Lance Jones.
Wisconsin missed the NCAA tournament for just the second time under Greg Gard. The Badgers won 20 games for the fourth time in the last five years and reached the NIT semifinals. The Badgers, who ranked first in turnovers and 30th in scoring defense, return five of their top-6 players from last year’s squad. Gard also brought in a pair of four-star recruit and St. John’s transfer AJ Storr.