Prior to the start of the 2019-20 college basketball and first year of Juwan Howard with the Michigan Wolverines, we ranked the teams in the Big Ten ahead of the season and also had our readers vote on the pecking order.
We’re going to revisit those now. Some of them we both did a really nice job on! Others, well, some of you are on double-secret probation.
1. Wisconsin (21-10, 14-6 B1G)
MnB Projection: 7, Reader Projection: 6
I thought this team would struggle to replace Ethan Happ, and they sure did. Then, their second-leading scorer Kobe King left in the middle of the season. Their turnaround is stunning and Greg Gard deserves all the praise he is getting for the job he did this year.
2. Michigan State (22-9, 14-6 B1G)
MnB Projection: 1, Reader Projection: 1
The Spartans still won a share of the Big Ten, so we all still kind of got it right. We certainly felt that it would be a bit of an easier road, but the Spartans went through some rough patches and never quite clicked throughout the year like we thought they would. But they are playing their best basketball now and once again look like one of the teams to beat in college hoops.
3. Maryland (24-7, 14-6 B1G)
MnB Projection: 3, Reader Projection: 3
Maryland was a team that we mentioned in preseason coverage that could push Michigan State for the conference title if everything clicked. For most of the year, it has and outside of a bit of a late-season slide, they were nearly wire-to-wire the best team in the conference throughout the year.
4. Illinois (21-10, 13-7 B1G)
MnB Projection: 6, Reader Projection: 9
My projection was a little more bullish than the readers were, but we all wound up being a bit wrong here. The Illini’s young group, led by Kofi Cockburn and Ayo Dosunmu, hit the high end of their potential and were a ton of fun to watch this season.
5. Iowa (20-11, 11-9 B1G)
MnB Projection: 9, Reader Projection: 8
We thought that defense would limit Iowa’s ceiling this season, and it still did a bit, but KenPom’s sixth-ranked offense and a legit national player of the year candidate in Luka Garza made this one of the toughest matchups in the Big Ten on a nightly basis. Just ask Jon Teske and Michigan about that.
6. Penn State (21-10, 11-9 B1G)
MnB Projection: 12, Reader Projection: 11
This one is probably the biggest whiff of all on both of our ends here. Lamar Stevens is a tremendous player, but I thought he would be a bit of a one-man show this season. Pat Chambers did an outstanding job with this group.
7. Ohio State (21-10, 11-9 B1G)
MnB Projection: 2, Reader Projection: 4
This team is much better than its record is, at least if you buy into KenPom, who has them as the eighth-best team in college basketball. They had a lot of similar problems that Michigan had in terms of a mid-season slide, then a bit of a late push. I’ve no idea what to make of this team heading into March Madness.
8. Rutgers (20-11, 11-9 B1G)
MnB Projection: 10, Reader Projection: 14
Let’s go a little longer here for a second. Here’s what I said about them in November:
The Scarlet Knights have been bottom feeders in just about every sport since joining the Big Ten, but there’s some optimism to suggest they are ascending on the basketball court. Steve Pikiell has them moving in the right direction and there’s a chance they could surprise a few teams above them. I’m buying the hype.
I’ve no doubt that our readers and voters are smart people, but having them ranked dead-last in the conference is and will continue to be absurd. Shame on all of you!
9. Michigan (19-12, 10-10 B1G)
MnB Projection: 4, Reader Projection: 2
Call it homerism. Call it whatever you want. I thought this team had top-half of the conference potential (which is true, when they actually play well), but No. 2? We are not helping our cause here, folks!
That said, the Livers injury obviously hurt them, and then a late-season slide of sorts kind of has them where a lot of us would hope they would be. They’re a tournament team with second-weekend potential if things go well. If not, nobody would be surprised to see them be a one-and-done this year.
10. Purdue (16-15, 9-11 B1G)
MnB Projection: 5, Reader Projection: 5
We all overthought this one. I trusted Matt Painter and the Boilermakers to stay in the mix because they’ve done it for 15 years basically. This team was not as bad as its record would indicate and they felt like one of the unluckier teams in college basketball, but woof. This was not a good year for them.
11. Indiana (19-12, 9-11 B1G)
MnB Projection: 8, Reader Projection: 7
There was a point in mid-January where you kind of went, “you know what? These guys can play.” After starting the season 15-4, Indiana went 4-8 down the stretch. They are certainly on the bubble, but I think on the right side of it and a win or two in Indy should send them to the tournament.
12. Minnesota (14-16, 8-12 B1G)
MnB Projection: 11, Reader Projection: 10
The question about Minnesota outside of Daniel Oturu pretty much went unanswered throughout the year. It would not be surprised if Richard Pitino does not make it past this season.
13. Northwestern (8-22, 3-17 B1G)
MnB Projection: 14, Reader Projection: 13
Northwestern was bad. Shame on you for thinking Rutgers was worse.
14. Nebraska (7-24, 2-18 B1G)
MnB Projection: 13, Reader Projection: 12
Nebraska was bad. Shame on you for thinking Rutgers was worse.