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You’re Nuts: Which Big Ten basketball team will take a step back this season?

Sorry, Twitter mentions.

Big Ten Tournament - Quarterfinals - Iowa vs Rutgers Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

It is June, and that means college basketball has died — at least for the time being. There is not much news to speak of, as teams are mostly on the road recruiting, welcoming freshmen to campus, and other things of that nature. What is not happening is actual basketball. However, the Bucketheads are here to give you your weekly dose of basketball-related content. Some people have to do the good work, not all heroes wear capes.

Last week, we debated which team we would like to see Ohio State schedule a home and home against in the future. Connor said Kentucky, while Justin said Gonzaga.

The voting was not particular close, and Connor was able to double his lead over Justin in the overall standings with his win.

This week, we are jumping back into our prediction bags. We are taking a look at all of the Big Ten teams and predicting who we think will take a major step back this season.

After 53 weeks:

Connor- 23
Justin- 21
Other- 7

(There have been two ties)

Today’s question:

Which Big Ten hoops team will take a step back this season?


Justin: Rutgers

Big Ten Tournament - Quarterfinals - Iowa vs Rutgers Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

So when I say Rutgers with this, I don’t necessarily think they are going to be terrible or anything. They have a solid trio of Caleb McConnell, Cliff Omoruyi and Paul Mulcahy coming back, and they should all be able to produce at a fairly high level. However, there are serious concerns with this roster.

First of all, Ron Harper Jr. and Geo Baker are two of the toughest players to replace in the conference. Harper and Baker combined to average almost 28 points per game, while the Scarlet Knights averaged 68 points per game overall. They will have to replace almost a third of their scoring.

That is all fine and dandy when you are able to bring guys in that can replace that production. However, Rutgers has the 12th ranked recruiting class in the conference, beating only Maryland and Wisconsin in that regard.

The Scarlet Knights also did not hit any of their targets in the transfer portal, so all they are bringing into this team are two three-star recruits and one transfer in Cam Spencer from Loyola (MD). They will need these guys to come in and help produce, but replacing the production of Harper and Baker is a very tall task.

Aundre Hyatt, Dean Reiber, Jalen Miller and Mawot Mag will be key cog in the Rutgers machine, but they are fairly unproven and will have to step up into starting and top bench producers.


Connor: Purdue

Texas v Purdue Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

I’d bet my life savings that the 2022-23 Purdue Boilermakers will be an NCAA Tournament team once again, but I’m not sure if I could guarantee much more than that. Purdue was the favorite to win the Big Ten last season with that dominant frontcourt plus Jaden Ivey making plays in the backcourt. They wound up finishing in second place in the B1G, and made a run to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament. By all accounts a good season, even if it felt like that roster was capable of maybe going a bit further. You can’t complaint too much about Sweet Sixteens.

This upcoming season is going to look a whole lot different.

7-foot-4 center Zach Edey is back, but Purdue’s other three top scorers from last season (Ivey, Trevion Williams, and Sasha Stefanovic) are all gone. Isaiah Thompson, who handled the rock when Ivey wasn’t, is also gone, having transferred to Florida Gulf Coast. The Boilermakers’ backcourt is looking pretty barren right now, with no established names to step in and replace the production of Ivey, Thompson, and Stefanovic.

Edey will continue to be a problem for the Big Ten because he’s 10 feet tall, but it’ll be a lot tougher for him to score if teams feel they can double team him without consequences. If the Boilermakers don’t have shooters and playmakers on the perimeter (like they did last season), defenses can hone in specifically on Edey.

Will Ethan Morton slide over to point guard after averaging 1.4 assists per game in roughly 15 minutes per contest? Perhaps, but those are big shoes to fill for someone who played sparingly at times last season. Could it be one of the incoming freshmen, three-star, 5-foot-10 guard Braden Smith or four-star, 6-foot-3 guard Fletcher Loyer? Perhaps, but can you close your eyes and see the Boilermakers cutting down the nets with any of those three players above as their main ballhandler?

Purdue thought they had Nijel Pack headed their way, but the bag spoke loudly and Pack ended up at Miami. Tyrese Hunter was a possibility too, but he wound up at Texas. Matt Painter made a run at several transfer guards, and none of those big fish made their way to West Lafayette. With Edey, Caleb Furst, and Mason Gills still around, Purdue should be an NCAA Tournament team. But it’ll be a step back from last season when they were the favorites to win the conference and a popular Elite Eight/Final Four pick.


Poll

Which of these teams is more likely to take a big step back this season?

This poll is closed

  • 44%
    Rutgers (Justin)
    (24 votes)
  • 55%
    Purdue (Connor)
    (30 votes)
54 votes total Vote Now