The Big Ten is undergoing a makeover for the 2022-23 season after 15 of the league's top 20 scorers from last season departed the conference. Some fresh blood might be a good thing for the Big Ten, though, after none of the league's nine NCAA Tournament teams advanced beyond the Sweet 16 as the conference's national title drought grew to 22 years in 2022.
In fact, only two Big Ten squads made it past the first weekend of the Big Dance, which was particularly disappointing after the league again received acclaim for its parity. But a new season is on the horizon along with a new chance for the conference to plant its flag atop the sport. With UCLA and USC set to join the league for the 2024-25 season, the Big Ten is only going to improve as a basketball conference in the years ahead.
In the meantime, who is its top squad? That is an open-ended question entering the 2022-23 season as stars like Keegan Murray (Iowa) Kofi Cockburn (Illinois), Johnny Davis (Wisconsin) and E.J. Liddell (Ohio State) are no longer part of the fray.
As tipoff inches closer for the 2022-23 college basketball season, let's take a closer look at the Big Ten's top stars and its teams.
CBS Sports Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year
Trayce Jackson-Davis | Center | Indiana
After helping Indiana snap a five-year NCAA Tournament drought last season, Jackson-Davis opted to return for his senior season, and when he did it sent the Indiana hype into overdrive. The 6-foot-9 big man has led the Hoosiers in scoring in each of his three seasons on campus, and he turned into an elite shot blocker last season to boot. The only reason he's not in the NBA is because he doesn't have a 3-point shot. Even if he doesn't add perimeter offense to his repertoire this season, he'll still terrorize Big Ten opponents on both ends of the floor while helping the Hoosiers build on the major step forward they took last season.
Four more players to watch
Hunter Dickinson | C | Michigan: It's hard to imagine how Dickinson could improve in many statistically significant ways, but he'll be even more important to what the Wolverines do this season than he was a year ago.
Zach Edey | C | Purdue: With Purdue's center hierarchy cleared for Edey, expect him to challenge Dickinson and Jackson-Davis for the league's rebounding and blocks titles, and potentially for the scoring title if his conditioning and foul-avoidance allow.
Kris Murray | F | Iowa: At 6-8, 215 pounds and with the ability to score at multiple areas, Murray's versatility makes him a problem for every opposing defense. He's also a plus defender and a surefire candidate for Big Ten Player of the Year.
Tyler Wahl | F | Wisconsin: With Johnny Davis departed, it's Wahl's time to shine at Wisconsin. The 6-9 forward averaged 12.9 points on 55.4% shooting during Wisconsin's final 10 regular season games last season even as the offense revolved around Davis and fellow departed guard Brad Davison.
CBS Sports Big Ten Preseason Freshman of the Year
Jalen Hood-Schifino | Guard | Indiana
Hood-Schifino's status as the No. 26 overall prospect in the 247Sports rankings for the Class of 2022 make him the league's most highly touted freshman. The 6-5 guard looks like the type of perimeter playmaker the Hoosiers have been needing to make a full-on return to national relevance. Indiana coach Mike Woodson likened Hodd-Schifino to Jason Kidd this month.
CBS Sports Big Ten predicted order of finish
|After leading Illinois in rebounding and blocks while finishing either first or second on the team in scoring the past three seasons, star big man Kofi Cockburn has moved on from college basketball. Replacing him will be a joint effort led by a mix of returners, transfers and the nation's No. 7 recruiting class. Former Baylor wing Matthew Mayer and former Texas Tech wing Terrence Shannon are versatile veterans from winning programs who made the Illini one of this year's winners of the transfer cycle. Junior Coleman Hawkins could be in for a breakout season at the five as he gives the Illini a far more versatile and perimeter-savvy frontcourt presence following the Cockburn era.|
|The Hoosiers haven't finished with a winning record in league play since the 2015-16 season but are expected to have a Big Ten breakthrough after qualifying for their first NCAA Tournament since 2016 in coach Mike Woodson's debut campaign. With All-American candidate Trayce Jackson-Davis back to anchor the lineup at center and productive veterans returners such as guard Xavier Johnson and forward Race Thompson around him, the Hoosiers have an impressive veteran nucleus. They also welcome the nation's No. 11 recruiting class headlined by five-star guard Jalen Hood-Schifino, who could be the type of game-changing playmaker the Hoosiers have been missing on the perimeter.|
|Michigan loses a lot of from last season's team that made a surprise Sweet 16 run as a No. 11 seed. But the Wolverines bring back that team's most important player, as star big man Hunter Dickinson returns for his junior season. The Wolverines need Princeton graduate transfer Jaelin Llewellyn to hit after the 6-2 guard earned first-team All-Ivy League last season. If he and Dickinson develop solid rapport and can both shoot respectably from the outside, fourth year coach Juwan Howard will have a solid team. Otherwise, look for Kobe Bufkin and Terrance Williams II to step up and play bigger roles after coming off the bench last season. This year's No. 10-ranked class of incoming freshmen is less-heralded than last year's No. 3-ranked group, but four-star prospect Jett Howard is generating significant buzz. The 6-7 wing is the son of the Wolverines' coach and could make significant contributions as a freshman.|
|The Boilermakers lose stars Jaden Ivey and Trevion Williams from last season's squad, which was the first in program history to reach No. 1 in the AP poll. But five players who factored into last season's rotation are back, including 7-4 center Zach Edey. With Williams out of the rotation, Edey should see an uptick in minutes and an uptick in production after averaging 14.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. He did all that in just 19 minutes per contest last season. Some others will have to step up around him, but there appears to be enough shooting on this roster to keep the floor spaced for Edey and Utah transfer David Jenkins Jr. should help with that as well.|
|This isn't Tom Izzo's deepest or most-talented team, but it features a solid veteran nucleus that should be able to keep the floor high. This will be a rare major conference roster without a first-year transfer in the rotation, and Izzo will need that continuity to pay dividends early as the Spartans play Gonzaga, Kentucky, Villanova and Alabama in the first few weeks of the season. Versatile senior Malik Hall looks like the top breakout candidate after a nice junior season in which he scored 8.9 points per game and hit 42.6% of his 3-pointers while coming off the bench. Someone from the group of guards that includes A.J. Hoggard, Tyson Walker and Jaden Akins needs to emerge as a reliable creator and playmaker.|
|With mainstays E.J. Liddell and Kyle Young gone from the forward rotation and freshman phenom Malaki Branham departed for the NBA, the Buckeyes are going to look a lot different this season. But they should still be in the Big Ten's upper half after landing an impressive transfer haul headlined by Wright State transfer and first-team All-Horizon League wing Tanner Holden. With 3-point marksman Sean McNeil (West Virginia) and battle-tested guard Isaac Likekele (Oklahoma State) also entering the mix from the Big 12, Ohio State will have an excellent veteran core to pair with the nation's No. 8 recruiting class. The freshman haul includes four top-100 players.|
|At first glance, the loss of first-team All-American Keegan Murray would seem to indicate a rebuilding season is in store for Iowa. But the Hawkeyes successfully replaced the program's all-time leading scorer, Luka Garza, on the way to a 26-10 record and Big Ten Tournament title last season. This team can rebound from losing another superstar with a committee effort led by Kris Murray. The twin brother of Keegan Murray, Kris, took a huge leap as a sophomore last season and is poised to become an all-conference performer. Of the 10 Iowa players who logged double-digit minutes in the Big Ten Tournament title game win over Purdue, seven return.|
|It's hard to imagine Rutgers without Ron Harper Jr. and Geo Baker after those two helped produce arguably the most memorable three-year stretch in program history. But the Scarlet Knights are marching on with a roster that still features plenty of proven veterans. Senior guards Caleb McConnell and Paul Mulcahy were part of most of the program's recent triumphs, and junior center Clifford Omoruyi was a breakout star last season. That's a solid trio seventh-year coach Steve Pikiell can build around as Rutgers seeks to remain part of the Big Ten's Big Dance crowd.|
|Like Iowa, the first read on Wisconsin is that it may struggle to replace the production of departed stars. With Johnny Davis and Brad Davison gone, the Badgers have questions to answer. But relative to most schools in this era, they have strong continuity. It's hard to see Wisconsin going through a true rebuilding season with sophomore guard Chucky Hepburn, junior center Steven Crowl and senior forward Tyler Wahl all back after starting last season. Wahl, in particular, managed to have a breakout season last year even while Davis and Davison handled most of the team's offensive load. If Wahl can improve his outside shooting, he could be a star.|
|After 12 seasons at Seton Hall, Kevin Willard replaces Mark Turgeon at Maryland. Versatile seniors Donta Scott and Hakim Hart return to lead Willard's first roster. Otherwise, it will be on a transfer class led by former first-team All-Conference USA guard Jahmir Young to make this group competitive for an NCAA Tournament bid. Young averaged 19.6 points for Charlotte last season. He and Georgetown transfer Don Carey, along with Hart and Scott, give the Terrapins a nice veteran nucleus. Beyond that, it will be on an unproven mix of players to pop and help Maryland exceed modest expectations.|
|The Nittany Lions were a feisty bunch last season under first-year coach Micah Shrewsberry and look like a potential surprise team for the 2022-23 season. With two of the top three scorers back in seniors Jalen Pickett and Seth Lundy, the veteran core is in place. If veteran, in-state transfers Camren Wynter (Drexel) and Andrew Funk (Bucknell) pop after earning all-conference honors at their previous stops, this could be a gritty small-ball team in the mold of last season's Miami squad. Frontcourt depth looks like a problem, but there are some quality veteran guards and wings on this roster.|
|The Wildcats have the all-important ingredient of veteran guard play in Boo Buie, Chase Audige and Ty Berry. But making improvements on last season's 15-16 (7-13 Big Ten) mark will be a challenge after veteran bigs Pete Nance (North Carolina) and Ryan Young (Duke) were lured away to big-time programs. UTEP transfer Tydus Verhoeven will help replace some of that production in the frontcourt, but the Wildcats may struggle against some of the dynamic forwards and centers in the conference.|
|Fourth-year coach Fred Hoiberg agreed to a restructured contract with a pay cut and reduced buyout. In other words, the heat is on after a 10-22 (4-16 Big Ten) season. Senior transfer guards Sam Griesel (North Dakota State) and Emmanuel Bandoumel (SMU) and experienced forward Juwan Gary (Alabama) look like solid transfer additions. If redshirt sophomore guard C.J. Wilcher can take on a larger scoring volume after averaging 8.1 points on 40.6% 3-point shooting last season, perhaps the Cornhuskers can show improvement. But will it be enough to buy Hoiberg another year?|
|The Gophers started 10-1 under first-year coach Ben Johnson last season but didn't have the depth or firepower to withstand the rigors of the Big Ten. Last year's leading scorer, Jamison Battle, returns and the 6-7 wing will need to carry a heavy load again. Though former Marquette and North Carolina forward Dawson Garcia was a great pickup in the transfer portal, this roster is still being rebuilt, and it will be at least another season before a five-man freshman class can help Minnesota reach the league's middle class.|
Big Ten most overrated team
Michigan State's roster features just 10 scholarship players, none of whom averaged double digits for the Spartans last season. Unless 6-8 senior forward Malik Hall makes a significant leap, there is likely not an all-conference player on this team. Tom Izzo can still get this team to the NCAA Tournament, but there is little here to suggest the Spartans improve on the middle of the pack Big Ten finishes they've posted the past two seasons.
Big Ten most underrated team
Doubt Fran McCaffery at your own peril, but he has suffered just one losing season in Big Ten play over the past 10 years. If the two members of our panel who project the Hawkeyes to finish eighth are correct, then this team will likely fall short of that well-established precedent. That sort of projection is an understandable knee-jerk reaction to Iowa losing Keegan Murray and Jordan Bohannon. But Ahron Ulis and Tony Perkins look amply capable of taking huge strides in the backcourt to replace Bohannon, and Keegan Murray has a literal twin brother named Kris waiting to emerge as a potential NBA Draft lottery pick. Their games may not be identical, but Kris is in for the type of breakout season that Keegan enjoyed last season. The Hawkeyes may not repeat as Big Ten Tournament champions, but they have everything they need to finish in the league's upper tier again.