Four Big Ten Offseason Storylines to Follow

Posted by Brendan Brody on April 27th, 2017

Now that the 2016-17 college basketball season has been put to bed, it’s time for hoopheads to peer into the future and prepare for the 2017-18 season. There is a fair amount of intrigue attached to how the Big Ten will look next season, so here’s a quick look at the biggest stories to consider within the league over the next several months.

The draft decision of Miles Bridges set the bar for the 2017-18 Big Ten championship. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

  • The Return of Miles Bridges: Michigan State’s uber-talented forward decided to stay in school for his sophomore season, making the Spartans the clear favorite to win the Big Ten and enter next season ranked among the nation’s top five. Plenty of solid pieces were already slated to return to East Lansing next season — sophomores Nick Ward, Cassius Winston, and Joshua Langford — but having the future lottery pick back means Tom Izzo is smiling this offseason.

  • Other NBA Draft Decisions: What ultimately will determine the overall strength of the Big Ten next season, however, are those early entries who may decide to return to school. Indiana, Michigan and Purdue all have multiple players who have chosen to “test the waters,” and those decisions will impact the conference race in a big way. Indiana could be a Top 25 team next year if the trio of James Blackmon, Jr, Thomas Bryant and Robert Johnson return to play for new head coach Archie Miller. Michigan won’t slip very much if it keeps Moritz Wagner and DJ Wilson on campus in Ann Arbor. Likewise, Purdue could range anywhere from a Final Four contender if it somehow keeps Caleb Swanigan, Isaac Haas and Vincent Edwards in West Lafayette to a potential NIT team if it lost all three. How everything will look heading into the season will be determined heavily by who leaves and who stays.
  • Late Recruiting Battles: There are a couple of elite recruits with Big Ten teams on their lists who haven’t yet made their college decisions. Mo Bamba has a final four of Duke, Kentucky, Michigan and Texas, and the 6’11” center would be an absolute terror on the Wolverines’ front line with Wilson and Wagner. Explosive wing Brian Bowen also lists Michigan State among his final five schools and his arrival in East Lansing could push the Spartans to a preseason #1 ranking.
  • What’s Happening at Nebraska?: Even after getting an endorsement from athletic director Shawn Eichorst at the end of the season, Nebraska head coach Tim Miles is facing a precarious next season with four players from this year’s roster deciding to transfer. Starters Ed Morrow, Jr. and Michael Jacobson are gone along with freshman Jeriah Horne. Incoming transfers James Palmer and Isaac Copeland will join Anton Gill (returning from injury) so the cupboard in Lincoln isn’t completely bare, but it doesn’t inspire confidence for a team at the bottom of the conference standings to lose so many players. Keep an eye on whether Miles can recruit a couple graduate transfers or pick up some late signees to replenish his roster, especially on the interior. If not, things are looking rather bleak with Nebrasketball.
Brendan Brody (307 Posts)

Brendan Brody is in his fourth season covering the Big Ten for RTC. Email him at, or follow him on twitter @berndon4.

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