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Do stars matter? Predicting order of finish in the B1G based solely on recruiting rankings

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Just goes to show that talent matters, but it’s not the only thing that matters.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 12 Big Ten Tournament - Ohio State v Purdue Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

What if recruiting rankings always translated to success on the court? What if the team who pulled in the top recruiting class each season always won the conference without fail? What if nobody ever improved after getting to school, and what if no top recruits ever fell apart/busted?

That would be pretty boring, I think. Part of what makes college athletics so fun is the fact that more often than not, recruits do veer away from what the “experts” predicted for them at some point. Two or three-star prospects end up being taken as first-round NBA Draft picks. Five-star recruits who were supposed to take the world by storm crash and burn, and wind up transferring elsewhere, or stop playing altogether. Teams jacked with talent underperform, while the plucky underdogs make a run to the Sweet Sixteen. It happens all the time, and it’s fantastic.

But what if everything went according to plan? What if recruiting rankings and “stars” were the only thing that mattered?

The age-old question of “do stars mater?” is dumb. Yes, they absolutely matter. Why do Duke and Kentucky continue to perform at the highest level, while Elon and William & Mary do not? The big programs pull in the best recruits... the four and five-star kids. The smaller schools, like Elon and William & Mary, rarely lock up any recruits that are awarded stars at all. So yes, they matter.

But how much do they matter?

To answer that question and have a bit of fun, I looked up the recruiting rankings/”stars” awarded to every single player in the Big Ten conference. Every. Single. One. I then averaged the number of “stars” each team in the B1G has per player, and ranked the teams from first to last. A few notes on this:

  • Walk-on’s were not included, as they were likely never given stars. Walk-on’s did not pull any team’s average down. If you find a walk-on listed here, let me know so I can remove them. I did my best to research and find out if they walked-on or not.
  • Transfer players count, and their original stars from their first team are included. If a player started at a small school like Elon, for example, they probably had zero stars. Even if they are a great player now at a Big Ten program (following a transfer, assumedly), their original number of stars is used here.
  • If it was not clear if a player was a walk-on or not, I did not include them.
  • All recruiting rankings are taken from 247Sports.com. I prefer them over Rivals and ESPN.
  • Rosters are for the 2021-2022 season

Players improve over time, we know this. Part of the reason this list is so fun/surprising is because there are a ton of players listed below who have completely out-played what the “experts” predicted for them in high school. I do not believe this is how the B1G will shake out this season, but if we’re only looking at stars, here’s your final standings!

Michigan State Spartans (1)

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Michigan State Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

5-⭐: Max Christie
4-⭐: Pierre Brooks, Jaden Akins, Malik Hall, Mady Sissoko, AJ Hoggard, Joey Hauser, Marcus Bingham Jr, Gabe brown
3-⭐: Tyson Walker, Julius Marble
AVG: 3.9 ⭐’s


Indiana Hoosiers (2)

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Rutgers vs Indiana Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

5-⭐: Khristian Lander
4-⭐: Rob Phinisee, Miller Kopp, Jordan Geronimo, Trayce Jackson-Davis, Race Thompson, Logan Duncomb, Tamar Bates
3-⭐: Xavier Johnson, Michael Durr, Anthony Leal, Trey Galloway, Parker Stewart
AVG: 3.69 ⭐’s


Michigan Wolverines (3)

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Florida State at Michigan Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

5-⭐: Moussa Diabate, Caleb Houstan
4-⭐: Hunter Dickinson, Kobe Bufkin, Zeb Jackson, Terrance Williams, Frankie Collins, Isaiah Barnes, Brandon Johns
3-⭐: Adrien Nunez, Jace Howard, Will Tschetter, Jaron Faulds, Eli Brooks
0-⭐: Devante Jones
AVG: 3.53 ⭐’s


Nebraska Cornhuskers (4)

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament- Nebraska vs Penn State Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

5-⭐: Bryce McGowens
4-⭐: CJ Wilcher, Trey McGowens, Keon Edwards, Wilhelm Breidenbach
3-⭐: Alonzo Verge Jr, Quaran McPherson, Lat Mayen, Keisei Tominaga, Oleg Kojenets, Eduardo Andre
2-⭐: Kobe Webster
0-⭐: Trevor Lakes
AVG: 3.46 ⭐’s


Purdue Boilermakers (5)

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-North Texas at Purdue Andrew Nelles-USA TODAY Sports

4-⭐: Caleb Furst, Trey Kaufman, Jaden Ivey, Ethan Morton
3-⭐: Mason Gillis, Eric Hunter Jr., Brandon Newman, Isaiah Thompson, Zach Edey, Trevion Williams, Sasha Stefanovich
AVG: 3.3 ⭐’s


Maryland Terrapins (6)

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Maryland at Connecticut Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

4-⭐: James Graham, Eric Ayala, Julian Reese, Pavlo Dziuba, Ike cornish, Ian Martinez
3-⭐: Marcus Dockery, Fatts Russell, Hakim Hart, Donta Scott, Qudus Wahab
2-⭐: Xavier green
0-⭐: Simon Wright
AVG: 3.15 ⭐’s


Ohio State Buckeyes (7)

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Ohio State vs Illinois Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

4-⭐: Meechie Johnson, Malaki Branham, Kyle Young, EJ Liddell, Joey Brunk
3-⭐: Cedric Russell, Eugene Brown, Justin Ahrens, Justice Sueing, Kalen Etzler, Zed Key, Seth Towns, Jamari Wheeler
0-⭐: Jimmy Sotos
AVG: 3.14 ⭐’s


Wisconsin Badgers (8)

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Wisconsin at North Carolina IndyStar-USA TODAY Sports

4-⭐: Ben Carlson, Brad Davison
3-⭐: Jahcobi Neath, Jonathan Davis, Tyler Wahl, Isaac Lindsey, Lorne Bowman, Chris Hodges, Steven Crowl, Chucky Hepburn, Jordan Davis, Matthew Mors, Chris Vogt, Markus lver
AVG: 3.14 ⭐’s


Northwestern Wildcats (9)

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Minnesota Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

4-⭐: Casey Simmons, Pete Nance, Robbie Beran
3-⭐: Boo Buie, Ryan Greer, Ty Berry, Julian Roper, Brooks Barnhizer, Ryan Young, Matthew Nicholson
0-⭐: Chase Audige
AVG: 3 ⭐’s


Iowa Hawkeyes (10)

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Oregon at Iowa IndyStar-USA TODAY Sports

4-⭐: Pat Mccaffery
3-⭐: Joe Toussaint, Jordan Bohannon, Ahron Ulis, Tony Perkins, Keegan Murray, Payton Sandfort, Josh Ogundele, Kris Murray, Connor Mccaffery, Riley Mulvey
0-⭐: Filip Rebraca
AVG: 2.83 ⭐’s


Illinois Fighting Illini (11)

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Touranment-Illinois vs Loyola Chicago Alton Strupp/IndyStar

4-⭐: Brandin Podziemski, Trent Frazier, Omar Payne, Curbelo, Luke Goode, RJ Melendez, Kofi Cockburn
3-⭐: Brandon Lieb, Damonte Williams, Coleman Hawkins
0-⭐: Jacob Grandison, Alfonso Plummer, Ben Bosmans-Verdonk, Austin Hutcherson
AVG: 2.64 ⭐’s


Rutgers Scarlet Knights (12)

NCAA Basketball: Rutgers at Minnesota David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

4-⭐: Cliff Omoruyi
3-⭐: Geo Baker, Oscar Palmquist, Jalen Miller, Mawot Mag, Paul Mulcahy, Aundre Hyatt, Dean Reiber, Caleb McConnell, Ron Harper Jr., Jaden Jones
0-⭐: Logan Stephens, Luke Nathan
AVG: 2.61 ⭐’s


Penn State Nittany Lions (13)

NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Penn State Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

3-⭐: Seth Lundy, Myles Dread, Caleb Dorsey, Dallion Johnson
2-⭐: John Harrar
0-⭐: Sam Sessoms, Greg Lee, Jaheam Cornwall, Jevonnie Scott, Jalanni White, Jalen Pickett
AVG: 1.27 ⭐’s


Minnesota Golden Gophers (14)

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament- Minnesota vs Northwestern Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

4-⭐: Isaiah Ihnen
3-⭐: Payton Willis, Eric Curry, Treyton Thompson
0-⭐: Abdoulaye Thiam, Jamison Battle, Luke Loewe, Charlie Daniels, Eylijah Stephens, Danny Ogele, Parker Fox, Sean Sutherlin
AVG: 1.08 ⭐’s