Additions and subtractions cause small shakeup in latest AnnArbor.com Big Ten basketball power rankings
The NBA early-entry deadline has come and gone and most teams have completed their spring signings. Big Ten basketball teams now have a better idea of where they stand entering the offseason.
While there weren’t many early-entry possibilities from the Big Ten, two teams thought to be at the top of the standings in 2011-12 -- Ohio State and Michigan -- were the most affected by players' decisions to stay or go.
The Buckeyes were bolstered. The Wolverines were hurt.
Both teams, though, remain at or near the top of the AnnArbor.com Big Ten offseason basketball rankings.
Here's the latest rankings, with each team's previous ranking, from April 11, listed in parenthesis.
1. Ohio State (1): Jared Sullinger returned. So did William Buford. While the Buckeyes won’t be the No. 1 team in the country in the preseason, they will be in almost everyone’s top 5 nationally and probably the only Big Ten team in the top 10. A potential starting lineup of Sullinger, Buford, point guard Aaron Craft, forward DeShaun Thomas and maybe incoming freshman Amir Williams — the fifth spot is open right now — would be the strongest in the Big Ten.
AnnArbor.com file photo
3. Michigan (2): Right now it is tough to quantify the loss of Darius Morris to the NBA because his most logical replacement, Trey Burke, isn’t on campus yet. The Big Ten is going to be a league in transition next season and the Wolverines, despite the loss of Morris, will have one of the smallest adjustments to make because of the presence of Tim Hardaway Jr., Zack Novak and Jordan Morgan.
4. Wisconsin (4): Status quo in Madison. Jordan Taylor will return for his senior year. Josh Gasser is there. So is Mike Bruesewitz. Coach Bo Ryan’s teams never finish lower than fourth in the Big Ten. Don’t expect it to happen next season.
5. Illinois (5): Illinois still has a lot of offseason questions to answer, but D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul will be a dynamic backcourt along with Crandall Head.
6. Northwestern (6): No team will benefit more from a player returning to school than the Wildcats. John Shurna’s decision to come back for his senior year in Evanston means a chance at an elusive NCAA Tournament appearance. The coaching staff had a small shakeup when Mitch Henderson left to become the head coach at Princeton, but this team should contend in the league.
7. Indiana (7): This will be Tom Crean’s best shot so far as being competitive in the Big Ten. He returns the majority of his talent from a year ago, adds the first of two big recruiting classes and only loses Jeremiah Rivers.
8. Iowa (8): Tough to know what to make of the Hawkeyes right now. Melsahn Basabe is going to be one of the top 10 players in the Big Ten next year. Iowa also picked up the most interesting recruit of the spring, Anthony Hubbard, a 6-foot-5 guard who turned his life around after spending time in prison as a teenager. Now, he could make a quick impact for Iowa.
9. Purdue (9): The Boilermakers almost had a major loss, but not by a player. Coach Matt Painter was courted by Missouri, but he returned to Purdue and while the Boilermakers will take a step back next year, they’ll still be competitive. Whether Robbie Hummel is anywhere close to his pre-ACL tears form is a major question and why Purdue, for now, is this low.
10. Nebraska (11): Tough to say how the Cornhuskers, who flirted with the NCAA Tournament last season, will fit in during their first year in the Big Ten. But it is guaranteed the football team will have an easier transition than the basketball squad.
11. Minnesota (10): Trevor Mbakwe will be back for Minnesota. Ralph Sampson III will not, according to Myron Medcalf of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. It is really tough to see the Gophers being very good next year as they have lost much of their contributors: Blake Hoffarber, Al Nolen, Colton Iverson and Sampson. Mbakwe and Rodney Williams will have to carry Minnesota.
12. Penn State (12): The Nittany Lions received good news when Dayton guard Juwan Staten, who could be an impact player, announced he was transferring to Penn State. But he won’t be eligible until 2012-13, so it doesn’t help next year’s team.