Hoosiers picked as team to beat in Big Ten season of change

It’s a season of change in the Big Ten.

Indiana is the preseason choice to win the championship after finishing ninth last season.

Wisconsin is picked ninth after sharing the title with Illinois.

Purdue will enter the season outside the Associated Press Top 25 after appearing in six of the previous seven preseason polls. Michigan State is out for the second straight year after having appeared in 21 of the previous 23 preseason polls.

Conference upheaval was predictable with the departures of 17 of the top 25 scorers, including three top-10 NBA draft picks.

Second-year Indiana coach Mike Woodson played for the Hoosiers under Bob Knight in the late 1970s and embraces the challenge of being picked first in the Big Ten preseason poll conducted by the Columbus Dispatch and The Athletic.

“I can’t say this loud enough, guys: I came back here to win Big Ten titles and a national title. That’s all I want,” he said. “I’m not going to push the team in any other direction. If they’re scared of that challenge, then they shouldn’t be here.”

The Hoosiers are the highest-ranked Big Ten team, at No. 13. No. 22 Michigan and No. 23 Illinois are conference’s only other Top 25 teams.

Indiana brings back star forward Trayce Jackson-Davis and three other starters, and it also has a top 10 recruiting class headed by the Big Ten’s only incoming five-star player in Jalen Hood-Schifino.

The Hoosiers won their most recent Big Ten title in 2015-16 and haven’t finished higher than sixth since.

Illinois is turning over its roster but is picked to challenge for the title. Coleman Hawkins, a role player who averaged 19 minutes per game, is the most experienced returning player. But coach Brad Underwood has added transfers and freshmen who could make the Illini very dangerous the second half of the season.

“We have our hands full this year with a new team, coming off a Big Ten championship,” Underwood said. “We’re excited about that. We look forward to the challenges that are presented.”

WHO’S BACK

F Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana, 6-9, 245, Sr.: Big Ten preseason player of the year led the Hoosiers with 18.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.

C Zach Edey, Purdue, 7-4, 290, Jr.: Most intimidating man in the conference, he averaged 14.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in just 19 minutes per game.

C Hunter Dickinson, Michigan, 7-1, 260, Jr.: Creative scorer around the basket who averaged 18.6 points and posted 29 double-doubles.

F Kris Murray, Iowa, 6-8, 220, Jr.: One of the most valuable sixth men in the country last year, he averaged 9.7 points and now steps into the spotlight twin brother Keegan commanded.

G Chucky Hepburn, Wisconsin, 6-2, 205, So.: He was Badgers’ first true freshman in 20 years to start a season opener and hit a memorable game-winning 3-pointer to beat No. 8 Purdue last season.

TOP TRANSFERS

G David Jenkins, Purdue, 6-1, 200, Sr.: He’s played 88 games for his three previous schools, most recently Utah, and has eight 30-point games and is a 41% 3-point shooter.

G Jaelin Llewellyn, Michigan, 6-2, 190, Sr.: Projected starter at point guard had 15 games with 15-plus points, including seven with 20-plus, for Princeton.

G Terrence Shannon, Illinois, 6-6, 215, Sr.: Preseason All-Big Ten team pick started 20 of 26 games and averaged 10.6 points for Texas Tech team that reached Sweet 16.

F Matthew Mayer, Illinois, 6-9, 225, Sr.: Started 33 games and had career-best averages of 9.8 points and 5 rebounds for Baylor.

G Jahmir Young, Maryland, 6-1, 185, Sr.: Second-leading scorer in Conference USA (19.8 ppg) who led Charlotte in scoring, rebounds and assists.

TOP FRESHMEN

G Jalen Hood-Schifino, Indiana, 6-6, 213: Highest-rated Big Ten recruit, according to 247Sports.com, and conference preseason freshman of year. He led Montverde (Florida) Academy to two straight Geico high school national championships.

F Malik Reneau, Indiana, 6-9, 233: Joins Hoosiers along with his close friend and Monteverde teammate Hood-Schifino. As a left-hander, and with his build, he looks a lot like Jackson-Davis.

G Skyy Clark, Illinois 6-3, 200: Another Monteverde product who is a high-volume scorer but limited last season by a knee injury.

F Tarris Reed, Michigan, 6-10, 260: Versatile big man out of Link Year Prep in Branson, Missouri, is physical presence, strong rebounder and can get out and run.

G Jett Howard, Michigan, 6-8, 215: Son of coach Juwan Howard brings a strong all-around game from IMG Academy in Miami.

ON THE COACHING FRONT

Maryland’s Kevin Willard is the only new head coach in the Big Ten. The 11-year Seton Hall coach takes over a Terrapins program that finished under .500 for the first time since 1992-93 and was coached by Danny Manning on an interim basis after Mark Turgeon stepped down eight games into the season.

Three coaches are going into their second years — Indiana’s Mike Woodson, Minnesota’s Ben Johnson and Penn State’s Micah Shrewsberry.

ACC/BIG TEN CHALLENGE

The 24th ACC/Big Ten Challenge is set for late November, and the Big Ten will be going for its fourth straight win in the 14-game event. Big Ten teams went 8-6 last year. The ACC leads the all-time series 12-8-3.

Nov. 28: Minnesota at Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh at Northwestern.

Nov. 29: Syracuse at Illinois, Maryland at Louisville, Penn State at Clemson, Virginia at Michigan, Wake Forest at Wisconsin, Georgia Tech at Iowa.

Nov. 30: Ohio State at Duke, Purdue at Florida State, Rutgers at Miami, North Carolina at Indiana, Michigan State at Notre Dame, Boston College at Nebraska.

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