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Iowa, Big Ten Basketball Roster Updates

Who’s Gone, Who Returns? What Does It Mean for 2018?

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Tournament-Michigan vs Purdue Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, the NBA deadline for draft declaration came and went. As such, Big Ten rosters for the 2018-19 season came more into focus. Here’s how it breaks down.


Big Ten Players Draft Decisions

School Player Status Leave/Return
School Player Status Leave/Return
Indiana OG Anunoby SO Leave
Indiana James Blackmon Jr. JR Leave
Indiana Thomas Bryant SO Leave
Indiana Robert Johnson JR Return
Maryland Melo Trimble JR Leave
Maryland Justin Jackson FR Return
Michigan D.J. Wilson JR Leave
Michigan Moritz Wagner SO Return
Ohio State Trevor Thompson JR Return
Ohio State Kam Williams JR Return
Purdue Caleb Swanigan SO Leave
Purdue Vince Edwards JR Return
Purdue Isaac Haas JR Return
Rutgers Corey Sanders SO Return

Overall, only 13 players even declared for the draft as underclassmen, with only five deciding to leave. Nothing is particularly surprising except what is not listed: Miles Bridges did not even enter into the NBA Draft process. I saw only two NCAA games live last year - I went to Tulsa for the pod including Kansas and Michigan State - and Bridges was right with Josh Jackson in terms of athleticism. His offensive game was a little more refined while Jackson was the better defender, but Bridges’ return is great news for Michigan State.

While Mo Wagner returns for Michigan, losing D.J. Wilson leaves a huge void for them. His ability to stretch the paint as a center was a large part of their surge through the postseason. If Wagner can slide into the center spot, it will help facilitate the departure for John Beilein.


Big Ten Players Transferring

School Player Status Destination
School Player Status Destination
Illinois Jalen Coleman-Lands SO TBD
Illinois D.J. Williams SO TBD
Indiana Grant Gelon FR TBD
Iowa Dale Jones SR North Dakota
Maryland Jaylen Brantley RS JR Massachusetts
Maryland Micah Thomas FR TBD
Michigan Andrew Dakich SR Quinnipiac
Michigan Mark Donnal RS JR Clemson
Minnesota Ahmad Gilbert SO TBD
Nebraska Nick Fuller RS JR South Dakota
Nebraska Jeriah Horne FR Tulsa
Nebraska Michael Jacobson SO Iowa State
Nebraska Ed Morrow SO Marquette
Ohio State David Bell RS SO Jacksonville
Ohio State Mickey Mitchell SO Arizona State
Penn State Payton Banks RS JR South Florida
Penn State Terrence Samuel RS JR South Florida
Penn State Isaiah Washington RS SO Quinnipiac
Purdue Basil Smotherman RS JR Georgia State
Rutgers Ibrahima Diallo RS SO TBD
Rutgers Nigel Johnson RS JR Virginia
Rutgers Jonathan Laurent SO TBD
Wisconsin Jordan Hill RS JR Seattle

The transfer market in the Big Ten was surprisingly sparse, as most of the players leaving were not big contributors for their respective programs with one exception: Nebraska. The departures of Michael Jacobson and Ed Morrow were unexpected and their decisions to transfer up speak to their talent level. Though both have to wait a year to play at Iowa State and Marquette, I expect them to be contributors right when they become eligible.

The losses of Jalen Coleman-Lands, Payton Banks, and Nigel Johnson for Illinois, Penn State, and Rutgers were also a little surprising, as all played over 60% of their teams’ minutes. Banks and Johnson are the most notable grad transfers, as most are going to lower-level schools, including Dale Jones to North Dakota.

What’s Left?

Returning KenPom Figures

Team Record Conference 2017 AdjEM (KenPom) B1G Margin/100 Poss Maximum Continuity
Team Record Conference 2017 AdjEM (KenPom) B1G Margin/100 Poss Maximum Continuity
Minnesota 24-10 11-7 16.00 3.4 87.26
Iowa 19-15 10-8 10.48 -1.2 85.60
Ohio State 17-15 7-11 10.20 -3.9 81.32
Northwestern 24-12 10-8 15.82 2.5 79.78
Penn State 15-18 6-12 7.30 -5.7 78.96
Michigan State 20-15 10-8 15.51 2.9 77.98
Purdue 27-8 14-4 23.12 11.6 75.22
Indiana 18-16 7-11 14.49 -3.1 66.26
Maryland 24-9 12-6 14.33 5.6 61.46
Nebraska 12-19 6-12 5.13 -8.3 54.88
Rutgers 15-18 3-15 2.22 -15.7 52.48
Michigan 26-12 10-8 23.05 8.4 43.62
Wisconsin 27-10 12-6 22.99 7.8 38.98
Illinois 20-15 8-10 11.31 -3.6 33.64
KenPom $

So far, I’ve done nothing to account for graduations of senior players. This is where continuity comes into play. From KenPom:

Just take each player on the current roster, use the minimum minutes (on a percentage basis) he played comparing this season and last season, and then take the sum for all players.

Easy enough. So, since there are instances where incoming players are likely to take minutes away from players currently on the roster, this measure becomes the maximum. With the emergence of “corporate knowledge” in the sports sense, this metric provides some insight into it. The clear beneficiaries in this area are: Minnesota, Iowa, and Ohio State.

However, there are six more teams which return more than 60% of their minutes. The 61.46% from Maryland would rank 73rd this past year. Jon Miller touched on it in this week’s podcast (and summary), but there is an insane amount of talent returning to the Big Ten.

Going down the line, I expect the drop-off to be stark for Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois unless Greg Gard or Brad Underwood prove to be exceptional head coaches, though I’m skeptical of both. Another predictor of regression I look for is which teams lose their point guards - Indiana and Iowa both experienced some growing pains after losing four-year starters at the position. Melo Trimble’s departure (as well as Derrick Walton and Bronson Koenig) might prove to be too much for Maryland to maintain a top four spot in the league.

Additionally, I expect Purdue to maintain a spot in the top four, as many of Caleb Swanigan’s minutes will just be occupied by an increased role for Isaac Haas. Matt Painter’s willingness to play small with Swanigan at the center spot showed a change in tactics while maintaining the same gritty mentality Purdue fans pride in their team. Losing their worst defensive player (sorry, it’s true) will mean a return to Painterball of years past.

Something which concerns me as an Iowa fan is that so much of next year’s standings, and really, any standings going forward, depends on how the double-dips shake out. The team Iowa most resembles, in terms of AdjEM (adjusted for opponent expected margin) and continuity is Ohio State, who finished 3 games below Iowa in the standings. Iowa’s home-and-homes were Purdue, Nebraska, Rutgers, Illinois, and Maryland while the Buckeyes faced Michigan State, Minnesota, Maryland, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. Outside the two common opponents, Ohio State’s opponents fall in the top half of the conference, while only one of Iowa’s did last year.

Simply put, Iowa could be better - perhaps much better, in fact - without it reflecting in the standings. The Hawkeyes tied Michigan in the standings, who were nearly 10 points per 100 possessions better than Iowa in conference. This is because they rarely got blown out while having five double-digit wins, including three over 20 points.

Iowa only had two double-digit conference wins while they lost five by that margin in the regular season. While it’s expected for younger teams who often experience a game-to-game volatility an improvement in that - say a 5-point loss at Northwestern instead of a 35-point loss - still counts as a loss but improves their advanced metrics.

None of the above touches on incoming freshmen or grad transfers which further tips the scales towards Michigan State with the only incoming 5-star in the conference. Purdue, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, and Maryland also boast top 50-ish classes.

Overall, I still expect improvement from Iowa, both individually and as a team. They were the youngest team in the conference (KenPom) last year and - barring an offseason injury or team-wide bout of the sophomore slump or food poisoning from some bad schnitzel - will benefit from the full year in the system. While Peter Jok’s scoring has left a huge hole to fill, it might lead to a more egalitarian offense and improved accountability on defense.

If check-ins like this are what’s in store for the future, there’s a lot of reason to be excited.