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Andy Katz | NCAA.com Correspondent | October 31, 2018

Big Ten basketball: Andy Katz's predictions and power rankings for the 2018-19 season

ROSEMONT, Ill. — The Big Ten may not have a national championship team amid its members this season.

Or so we think.

Who had Michigan playing for the national title at this time a year ago?

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What the Big Ten does have is a league with no bad teams, thanks to the general strength of the conference. The Big Ten will play 20 conference games for the first time, offering up better matchups for teams on the bubble. And the player of the year candidates are plentiful — led by Purdue’s Carsen Edwards. So, after canvassing the league at media day Thursday, here are my revised conference power rankings:

1. Michigan State: Tom Izzo has a Big Ten title squad. He’s got his floor leader in Cassius Winston, who could go down as one of his favorites — and that’s saying something for that position at Michigan State. Nick Ward is all on board with what Izzo wants him to be this season. The depth is there and the Spartans are primed to make another deep tournament run after the stunning loss to Syracuse in the second round.

Postseason prediction: NCAA

2. Nebraska: The Huskers have their best team under Tim Miles. The Huskers aren’t deep but may have the best starting five in the league. This is a veteran group with each one of the seniors ready to meet the expectations. Tim Miles is in a great mood here going into the season because he knows he’s got a squad.

Postseason prediction: NCAA

3. Purdue: Carsen Edwards says all the right things. He’s not thinking about being the national player of the year. And he shouldn’t. But he is well aware that if he can become that level of player then the Boilermakers will be a national player and a Big Ten contender. Edwards has grown into the starring role. He just carries himself like someone who is ready to embrace the spotlight.

Postseason prediction: NCAA

4. Indiana: The Hoosiers may have two player of the year contenders in Juwan Morgan and Romeo Langford. If the Hoosiers are on board with Archie Miller’s defensive philosophy early and often, then Indiana will be a top-four team in the Big Ten.

Postseason prediction: NCAA

5. Michigan: Charles Matthews doesn’t think for one second the Wolverines will fade away. The Wolverines may have a few hiccups early but there’s no reason to believe they won’t be a tough out. And he was clear that the newcomers are going to have a major impact.

Postseason prediction: NCAA

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6. Wisconsin: Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said the Badgers are back to being healthy, and if that’s the case then this team will be playing deeper into March again. Ethan Happ has a chance to be one of the most prolific scorers/rebounders in Wisconsin and Big Ten history. Brad Davison is healthy after shoulder surgery, D’mitrik Trice has put on weight, Kobe King is back to killing it in practice and Brevin Pritzl is knocking down shots and Nate Reuvers is no longer a sleeper.

Postseason prediction: NCAA

7. Minnesota: The Gophers are the sleeper pick to challenge for the title — yes, even from being projected in the middle. Jordan Murphy is almost like the forgotten man — a double-double machine. Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said Eric Curry, Amir Coffey and Dupree McBrayer will all be good to go. If Pitt transfer Marcus Carr is eligible then the Gophers will have the needed depth at every position.

Postseason prediction: NCAA

 
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8. Maryland: The Terps did lose Kevin Huerter and Justin Jackson, but the return of Anthony Cowan Jr., and Bruno Fernando has Mark Turgeon feeling pretty, pretty, pretty good about this squad. The Terps could be sneaky good early and suddenly be a team of relevance deep into the Big Ten.

Postseason prediction: NCAA bubble.

9. Iowa: The Hawkeyes should be back in the mix with the top nine back, led by Tyler Cook. If the Hawkeyes can improve defensively — Fran McCaffery is confident this team will have a major overhaul of the defensive thinking — then Iowa will help the Big Ten have a banner Selection Sunday.

Postseason prediction: NCAA bubble.

10. Penn State: The Nittany Lions lost a lot with Tony Carr and Shep Garner gone. But Lamar Stevens is a beast and if the newcomers come through, then Penn State could be a late bloomer. There’s still a strong possibility of a good bump off the NIT title.

Postseason prediction: NCAA bubble.

11. Northwestern: Chris Collins is pretty pumped about this crew with the return of Vic Law and the ability of Evansville transfer Ryan Taylor to get buckets for the Wildcats. Collins is also extremely high on Boston College transfer A.J. Turner. If these pieces all mesh, then the Wildcats will find themselves back in contention for a postseason berth.

Postseason prediction: NIT consideration.

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12. Ohio State: The Buckeyes are major unknown, maybe the toughest team to slot in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes were better than expected a season ago. This could be the bridge season. Wake Forest transfer Keyshawn Woods may end up helping Ohio State finish higher. But recruiting is going so well that the expectation is the Buckeyes will be back near the top soon.

Postseason prediction: None.

13. Illinois: The Illini could very likely finish much higher if Trent Frazier becomes a first-team All-Big Ten player, which he is more than capable of doing this season. Brad Underwood has established his criteria and he’s got buy in so far. Still, it’s hard for the Illini to be projected higher at this juncture.

Postseason prediction: None.

14. Rutgers: Steve Pikiell said this team is much improved and may increase its win total. But that may make it hard to move up in the standings. Don’t be discouraged by the placement in the standings. Rutgers may finish last but won’t be a given for any team at the RAC.

Postseason prediction: None.

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