The 2012-13 season has just been put to bed, so what do we do now? Look ahead to next year, of course! It’s never too early to look to the future, so I’ve taken a few stabs at some (semi-outlandish) too-early predictions for the next Big Ten season. Take a look:
- The conference will be deeper, but not as top-heavy — What made the Big Ten so great this year was a combination of the heavyweights at the top — Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State all hovered in or around the Top 10 for much of the season — complemented by some excellent and dangerous middle-of-the-pack teams like Wisconsin, Illinois, and Minnesota. You can expect Michigan State and Ohio State to be in that Top 10 mix again (and perhaps Michigan, depending on who stays and leaves) but it will not be as top-heavy as it was this year. Instead, expect Purdue, Iowa, Northwestern, Nebraska, and Penn State to all be improved. If you thought there was no such thing as a gimme in the conference this year, the top-to-bottom slate next season will be even tougher.
- The Big Ten will not have two Final Four teams — If what was regarded as the best conference in the country this year couldn’t pull it off, I doubt it will be able to send two next year. Michigan State figures to be the best bet with Ohio State trailing close behind. Indiana doesn’t have the pieces and, again, it depends on what Michigan brings back. But given Tom Izzo’s track record (he will need to guide the Spartans to the Final Four to continue his streak of each four-year player at least reaching one Final Four in their careers) and his pieces, the Spartans are the best shot. Again, the conference may be deeper, but without nearly as many national title contenders.