The college basketball season appears to be set to start in just over two months, and with that, the preseason predictions have commenced.
CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein took a detailed look at the upcoming 2020-21 Big Ten season and named his favorite teams and players.
Here is a summary of Rothstein’s assessment of the league, with our own commentary on his predictions.
PRESEASON POWER RANKINGS
4. Michigan State
6. Ohio State
11. Penn State
There seems to be a near consensus big four for the upcoming season, and Rothstein has that group at the top as well.
While Iowa is a common prediction to claim the title with their impressive backcourt and All-American center Luka Garza, the big question in Iowa City is how hard will the Hawkeyes defend? Iowa has finished No. 12 or worse in the Big Ten in KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency for each of the last three years. That isn’t a formula for finishing on top in the rough and tumble conference.
Rothstein likes IU to finish in the middle of the pack at No. 7. That seems like a reasonable prediction, and reasonably in line with most views. The lone exception we might take with Rothstein is that the Hoosiers seems to be a step ahead of Ohio State on paper this year.
(For The Daily Hoosier’s Big Ten preseason power rankings, and a complete recap of who is coming and going in the league, GO HERE)
FIRST TEAM ALL-BIG TEN
Geo Baker, Rutgers
Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois
Nate Reuvers, Wisconsin
Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana
Luka Garza, Iowa (player of the year)
Indiana needs a big season out of sophomore Trayce Jackson-Davis, and Rothstein sees that coming, naming the 6-foot-9 forward to the Big Ten’s first team. IU has not had a first team All-Big Ten performer since Yogi Ferrell in 2016.
Perhaps the only first team surprise is Rutgers’ Geo Baker, a career 37 percent shooter from the field. While the Scarlet Knights look like a NCAA Tournament team, can Baker be efficient enough to deserve first team recognition?
We like Iowa’s Joe Wieskamp, Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn or Michigan’s Isaiah Livers in that spot before Baker right now. Someone from Michigan State seems likely to take a big jump this year as well as the Spartans replace Cassius Winston and Xavier Tillman. Keep an eye on Rocket Watts, Joey Hauser and Gabe Brown.
MORE INDIANA MENTIONS
Impact freshmen — Khristian Lander
Under the radar freshmen — Jordan Geronimo, Anthony Leal, Trey Galloway
Breakout players – Jerome Hunter
Rothstein likes all of Indiana’s freshman class, naming each of the four new players to his preseason watch lists. Five star Khristian Lander comes in with the most hype, but with only 11 scholarship players, all four should get a chance to carve-out a role.
Jerome Hunter is a good pick to be a breakout player on Indiana’s roster, and we would add Race Thompson, Armaan Franklin and Rob Phinisee as three more players that could take big steps during the upcoming season. If Indiana is to make a move up the power rankings, more than one of those players will need to significantly expand their role and production this year.
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