Early Big Ten power rankings: Led by Miles Bridges, Michigan State is back on top

Now that college basketball has nuzzled into the middle of its offseason, we're addressing what has happened in the seven major conferences since early April. We've hit the the American, the ACC, the Big 12 and the Big East. Let's examine the 14-team Big Ten. 

The Big Ten hasn't been shy on headlines, most recently with the coaching shakeup in Columbus, Ohio Bobcats . But that wasn't the only surprising turn of events since the season ended. As we look to 2017-18, there are a lot of sophomores whose play could define the Big Ten nationally. Below, a look at what's happened over the past three months, followed by our offseason power rankings. 

Biggest names returning

  • Miles Bridges and Nick Ward , Michigan State Spartans
  • Isaac Haas and Vince Edwards, Purdue Boilermakers
  • Ethan Happ , Wisconsin Badgers
  • Kevin Huerter and Justin Jackson , Maryland Terrapins
  • Nate Mason and Amir Coffey , Minnesota Golden Gophers
  • Moritz Wagner , Michigan Wolverines
  • Bryant McIntosh , Northwestern Wildcats

The Big Ten isn't overflowing with stars, but Bridges makes up for that. Tom Izzo told CBSSports.com that Bridges never intended to test his NBA market, despite Izzo encouraging him to meet with agents. Because he is back in East Lansing, Michigan State has its goal set on getting to the Final Four in San Antonio. 

Impact players leaving

  • Caleb Swanigan , Purdue
  • Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig , Wisconsin
  • Melo Trimble , Maryland
  • Thomas Bryant , OG Anunoby and James Blackmon Jr. , Indiana Hoosiers
  • Derrick Walton and D.J. Wilson, Michigan
  • Peter Jok , Iowa Hawkeyes
  • Malcolm Hill , Jalen Coleman-Lands and Tracy Abrams , Illinois Fighting Illini
  • JaQuan Lyle , Ohio State Buckeyes

Swanigan, Bryant University Bulldogs , Anunoby and Wilson were picked in June's NBA Draft. Hayes and Koenig leave Madison after helping Wisconsin reach the Final Four. Blackmon would have had the run of the place in Indiana had he returned, but after graduating in three years, he took his shot at going pro. JaQuan Lyle quit Ohio State in May before Thad Matta was fired. 

Coaching changes 

Chris Holtmann, Ohio State: Three months removed from a public endorsement by Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, Matta was forced out -- opening one of the country's best jobs. On June 9, Holtmann was hired away from Butler Bulldogs , where he spent three seasons and won four NCAA Tournament games. Here's what Matta did at Ohio State: two Final Fours, five Big Ten regular-season titles, nine NCAA Tournament trips and a .733 win percentage. 

Archie Miller, Indiana: The big get. Miller was a chic candidate in 2014, 2015 and 2016. It was always going to take a top job to lure him from Dayton Flyers . Indiana fits the bill. Miller, 38, steps in after nine years of Tom Crean in Bloomington. Miller went 139-63, including a 2014 Elite Eight appearance, in six seasons with the Flyers.

Brad Underwood, Illinois: With the Illini because Oklahoma State Cowboys was not proactive in restructuring his contract. Underwood is on his third job in three years -- for good reason. He has won 109 games in four seasons, and 89 wins in his first three seasons shares the Division I record (with former Butler coach Brad Stevens) for most victories to start a career.

Three biggest offseason headlines

  1. Bridges shocks with his return to Michigan State: The game is boosted by this decision. Bridges is the overwhelming favorite as conference player of the year by media from most every publication. The sophomore power wing is set up for a big season because he has really good playmakers around him -- in addition to being a stellar on- and off-ball force. 
  2. Ohio State fires Matta, hires Holtmann: When it comes to coaching changes, there are few true stunners. Firings, retirements or job-seekers are talked about behind the scenes before the public is hip. But Matta's departure was a shocker the AD pinned on a lack of recruiting momentum. Matta, 50, did not rule out returning to coaching, but he put an emphasis on getting fully healthy (he ails from drop foot) before anything else. 
  3. Swanigan waits until final day to leave Purdue: "I would think he'll wait until the midnight hour to make his decision," coach Matt Painter told CBS Sports back in May. Sure enough, that's what happened. The 2016-17 player of the year runner-up took all the time allotted before moving on. He was taken No. 26 overall and has been playing in the NBA Summer League. 
milesbridgesfotw.jpg
Miles Bridges, an athletic college superstar, will be must-see-TV. USATSI

Big Ten offseason power rankings

Michigan State: The Spartans are led by Bridges, but look closer and you'll see one of the strongest sophomore classes in America. Ward, Cassius Winston and Josh Langford are back, and they comprised Izzo's highest-rated class ever, according to 247 Sports. Add Matt McQuaid as a deep-threat shooter plus Ben Carter and Gavin Schilling in the frontcourt -- after both sat out last season because of injuries -- and the Spartans are No. 3 in our offseason Top 25 (and one).

Purdue: Even with Swanigan's departure, the Boilermakers return a lot from a 27-8 team. However, the gap between Michigan State and the next two teams is big. Purdue gets the nod at No. 2 because of returners who have starting experience. The Edwards combo (Vince and Carsen) is going to be very fun. 

Northwestern: The Wildcats are coming off their first NCAA Tournament appearance, setting up the most anticipated season in Evanston -- ever. Bryant McIntosh, Vic Law and Scottie Lindsey should get this group back in the NCAAs.

Maryland: If Michigan State has the best sophomores in America, Maryland is not far behind. Jackson, Huerter and Anthony Cowan played big roles as freshmen, helping the Terps to a 24-9 record. With Trimble gone, can Cowan be the leader immediately? 

Minnesota: Coffey, another sophomore set up for success, should have a breakout season, given his 40-percent shooting from 3-point range. The Gophers were a one-and-done NCAA 5 seed last season. 

Wisconsin: This pick could prove foolish because Wisconsin hasn't finished outside the top four since 2000. If Happ continues last season's trajectory (14 points, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals per game), he could be an All-American. 

Penn State Nittany Lions : The Nittany Lions may need an NCAA Tournament appearance to save Pat Chambers' job. He enters year No. 7 without a Big Dance showing and one season above .500 -- but has his best roster yet. 

Michigan: The losses of Wilson (early NBA entry) and Walton (graduation) will linger. Wagner Seahawks must do a lot more than last season, when he was a late-blooming NBA prospect. Could be a bubble team. 

Indiana: Miller is a tremendous coach who inherits a spotty roster and a lot of unknowns. 

Iowa: The Hawkeyes also are looking for a sophomore bump. Jordan Bohannon leads the class and should get help from Tyler Cook and Cordell Pemsel to offset the loss of Jok (19.9 ppg, 38 percent 3-point shooting). 

Rutgers Scarlet Knights : The Scarlet Knights figure to be respectable, thanks to Steve Pikiell beginning to work the magic he used to get Stony Brook Seawolves to its first NCAA Tournament. 

Illinois: Underwood will endure a bumpy first season. Leron Black is the only returning starter. This is a young team -- one without a top-75 prospect enrolling. 

Ohio State: The Buckeyes have nine scholarship players, and only six with D-I experience. Holtmann's a very good coach, though, and Keita Bates-Diop and Jae'Sean Tate will help. 

Nebraska Cornhuskers : The Cornhuskers have been beset by transfers. Tim Miles, now in his sixth season in Lincoln, will rely on point guard Glynn Watson, who will try to improve an offense that was 13th in the conference in 2-point percentage. 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his seventh season covering college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics and... Full Bio

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