Over the weekend, a group of talented Big Ten players chose their fate. These players chose whether to go back to school or take their talents to the NBA. These players included Luka Garza (Iowa), Ayo Dosunmu (Illinois), Kofi Cockburn (Illinois), and Xavier Tillman (Michigan State). Tillman was the only one that chose to stay in the draft. Because their decisions, what does this mean for Wisconsin this season?
Iowa (Most Likely) Is The Pre-Season Big Ten Favorite
The success of Iowa’s season was going to depend on if Luka Garza would return for his senior season. Garza is a 6’11 senior who averaged 23.9 points and 9.8 rebounds last season. He is not only a threat inside the paint, but also from the perimeter and the three point line (35.8% last season).
Garza is seen as a pre-season player of the year candidate. He was a finalist for the Wooden Award last season, which went to Obi Toppin of Dayton.
Iowa also returns their core from last year. Garza joins Jordan Bohannon, Joe Wieskamp, CJ Fredrick, Connor McCaffery, and Joe Toussaint. Iowa is now considered by some experts as a national title contender.
Wisconsin Is Still A Top Team In The Big Ten
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Wisconsin is still a contender and one of the favorites to win the Big Ten conference. The Badgers join Iowa, Illinois, and Michigan State as my top four teams. Wisconsin has a ton of talent and upperclassmen returning from a team that ended last season as one of the hottest teams in the country. Wisconsin was also the number one seed in the Big Ten tournament before the season was ended due to the COVID 19 pandemic.
Illinois returns talented guard Ayo Dosumnu and center Kofi Cockburn, Dosumnu averaged 16.6 points a game last year while Cockburn averaged 13.3 points and 8.8 rebounds. Because of their returning production, Illinois is seen as a contender in the Big Ten.
Michigan State loses a huge piece in Xavier Tillman. Tillman averaged 13.7 points and 10.3 rebounds last season. Tillman was the Big Ten defensive player of the year and a second team all conference selection last year. The loss of Tillman is huge. However, the Spartans return talented players such as Rocket Watts, Gabe Brown, and Aaron Henry. Joey Hauser also returns after sitting out last year because of transfer rules.
The Big Ten Will Be Stacked Again This Year
The Big Ten was stacked a year ago as Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Maryland all tied for first place with a record of 14-6 in the conference. Another five teams (Illinois, Iowa, Ohio State, Penn State, and Rutgers) were all within three games as well. Games last season seemed to go to the wire every single night. While talent is gone from last season, this year seems like it will be no different.The Big Ten was the most competitive conference in the country last season. The 2020-2021 season looks like it will be just as competitive.