Happy almost football season, friends! Ohio State football kicks off in less than one week, which by proxy means that college basketball’s “preseason” is steadily creeping up on us. Soon, #content will be plentiful and we won’t have to stretch our brains searching for basketball topics to talk about.
But until then, we’ll disparage the Big Ten’s bottom feeders.
That’s right, in a season-preview of sorts, we’re predicting which B1G men’s basketball is going to stink the most this season and finish 14th in the conference. The conference will likely take a small step back this season as a whole, but a few teams will take a large leap backwards.
Last week, Connor and Justin debated which Ohio State basketball player of the past 20 years has had the best pro career. Connor went with Mr. Reliable Mike Conley, while Justin chose the longtime-Milwaukee Buck and former all-star Michael Redd.
The thing about Mike Conley is everyone loves him. So stats be damned, this one was a blowout. 62% of voters chose Conley, 33% chose Redd, and 5% chose “other.” Who the hell else is there to pick from, “other?” Regardless, Connor racked up another win in what is now becoming a runaway train for the shorter of our two Bucketheads. Connor now leads 9-4 overall.
After 16 weeks
(There has been one tie)
But back to the topic at hand. After a wild off-season that saw over 1,000 Division-I basketball players enter the transfer portal — including many from the B1G — rosters look quite a bit different from last season. With nine weeks to go until the season begins, who do you think is the worst team in the B1G?
Today’s Question: Who will finish last in the Big Ten?
Ragging on Nebraska has always come easy to me, so why stop now? Are the Cornhuskers going to be better than last year’s 3-16 record in conference play? I think so. Will they take a huge step forward? I’m not so sure.
Last year, Fred Hoiberg strategically landed Pitt transfer Trey McGowens — a 6-foot-4 guard who was solid for the Panthers during his freshman and sophomore seasons, averaging 11.6 points per game. McGowens was fine for Nebraska last season (10.7 PPG), but the real reason Hoiberg likely targeted him was because of his younger brother, Bryce.
Bryce McGowens is a 6-foot-6, five-star shooting guard who also happens to be the No. 28 player in the class of 2021. He is highest-rated recruit to ever commit to the University of Nebraska, and will likely step onto the floor and become Hoiberg’s most talented offensive weapon. This was sort of like the Andre & Kaleb Wesson situation, except Bryce McGowens will end up being a much better player than either of the Wessons.
Nebraska also landed four-star center Wilhelm Breidenbach, the No. 102 player in the 2021 class and the third-highest rated Nebraska recruit in the history of that program. Really says a lot that No. 102 is their third-best recruit ever, huh? He stands 6-foot-9 and wears huge rec specs, giving off a C.J. Gettys-Isaac Haas love-child type of look. I already can’t stand him.
On top of those two freshmen, Hoiberg has three additional freshmen and three transfers joining the team, headlined by former Arizona State guard and 2019 Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year Alonzo Verge. Verge averaged 14+ PPG each of his two seasons in the desert before transferring to Nebraska this season, which is one of the all-time most puzzling transfers, I think. Verge and the McGowen brothers will give Nebraska three capable scorers, but I’ll need to see the success live before I can believe that the Cornhuskers have truly pulled themselves out of the basement.
Nebraska has gone 14-45 in two seasons under Hoiberg. Each season has been a flaming sh*tstorm, with roster musical chairs ensuing in the months leading up to the season. Both of the previous two seasons, Nebraska’s talent far exceeded their results. The whole was far less than the sum of its parts. You can’t always expect success when throwing a bunch of new pieces together. Continuity means something in college basketball — the best teams in the B1G have it, the worst do not.
Maybe Nebraska will surprise me, but until I see it with my own eyes, I’ll pencil the ‘Huskers into the basement of the B1G again.
Spoiler alert: It is fun to announce that this answer is not Ohio State. And its not even close. There is actually really only one answer to this question, and the answer is Minnesota.
The Barn is one of my favorite places that the Buckeyes play, but this year it is safe to say the Barn will see more losses than wins.
This is who the Golden Gophers lost. Get your pen and pad out:
Gabe Kalscheur (to Iowa State), Liam Robbins (to Vanderbilt), Jamal Mashburn Jr. (to New Mexico), Jarvis Omersa (to St. Thomas), Martice Mitchell (to Northern Illinois), Tre’ Williams (to Oregon State), Sam Freeman (to Pacific), Brandon Johnson (to DePaul), Both Gach (to Utah) and Marcus Carr (to Texas).
Oh and more — their coach is gone. Richard Pitino was fired, and the Gophers hired Ben Johnson. Johnson is a former assistant at Minnesota under Pitino and Travis Steele at Xavier.
Coming back to Minnesota are two players: Isaiah Ihnen and Eric Curry. Ihnen averages 3.1 points per game and 3.1 rebounds per game while averaging 13.1 minutes in his career. However, he will not play in the 2021-22 season after suffering a knee injury in summer practice that will end his season before it starts.
After five seasons, Curry was going to elect to not use his free COVID year of eligibility and become a graduate assistant under coach Johnson, but in July decided to return to the court for one last go around. He averages 4.6 points per game and 4.0 rebounds per game in 18.2 minutes per game played. Their lack of front court depth and experience very likely played a role in this decision for Curry.
All of these losses are significant, but there are two that stand out: Marcus Carr and Liam Robbins. Carr was one of the top scorers and playmakers in the Big Ten last season. He averaged 19.4 points per game, 4.0 rebounds per game and 4.9 assists per game. Minnesota went 14-15 last season, and Carr was the reason that the first number even got to 14. He is heading to Texas to compete for a national championship and be a huge factor for new coach Chris Beard.
And as for Robbins, a transfer from Drake, Ohio State fans know him well. He dropped 27 points and 14 rebounds in a win against the Buckeyes on Jan. 3. The 7-foot-1 center averaged 11 points and seven rebounds per game and was looking to be a breakout star for the Gophers this year. He is now with Vanderbilt.
So, since the Gophers lost so many guys, here is who they are bringing in to replace most of their players:
Jamison Battle (from George Washington), Luke Loewe (from William & Mary), E.J. Stephens (from Lafayette), Sean Sutherlin (from New Hampshire), Treyton Thompson, Payton Willis (from College of Charleston), Parker Fox (from Northern State), Abdoulaye Thiam, Charlie Daniels (from Stephen F. Austin), Daniel Ogele (from Mercyhurst).
These are all guys who are unproven and coming from smaller schools. They may be good players, but the Big Ten is a gauntlet and the Gophers, at least this season, are going to struggle mightily.
Who is the worst team in the B1G?
This poll is closed