Busting Brackets

Big Ten Basketball: Grading each team's 2023-24 non-conference performance

The end of the non-conference portion of the 2023-24 college basketball season is near, meaning it is time to grade how each Big Ten team has fared in non-conference play.

Zach Edey, Fletcher Loyer, Lance Jones
Zach Edey, Fletcher Loyer, Lance Jones / Justin Casterline/GettyImages
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Maryland Terrpains: D+

The Terrapins got off to one of the worst starts for a power five team, falling to Davidson and UAB in the Asheville Championship followed by a 57-40 loss to Villanova on the road en route to a 1-3 record to start the season.

What keeps the Terrapins from a complete “F” grade in the non-conference portion of the season is the fact that they have gone 7-1 since, although their best wins in that stretch came against Penn State in overtime and against a struggling UCLA squad on the road.

Where Kevin Willard’s Terrapins have struggled has been on the offensive side of the floor, where they are currently shooting a mere 26.7% from behind the arc. The outside shooting has been a major Achilles heel in the first couple of months, and Maryland will need to find other options to score besides Jahmir Young -- who erupted for 37 points in their 69-60 win over UCLA -- and Julian Reese if they want to continue their momentum.

Although the Terps have some ground to make up, the season is far from over and it's possible that the win over UCLA can be the catalyst to help turn their season around.

Up next is a tilt against Coppin State at home on Thursday, Dec. 28 to close out their non-conference slate.

Minnesota Golden Gophers: C-

Minnesota may stand at 9-3 (1-1), but their best non-conference win is…Florida Gulf Coast? Ball State?

Although this is the most talented group that Ben Johnson has had in his three years leading the Gophers, Minnesota’s NCOS -- which currently ranks dead-last in college basketball, according to KenPom -- is nothing to be proud of.

In their two toughest tests in non-conference play, the Gophers blew a 20-point second-half lead to Missouri and fell in blowout fashion to San Francisco.

Because the Gophers do not have a quality win in non-conference play, it's hard to accurately gauge how well this team can perform come Big Ten play in January. 

It's clear that there is a talent upgrade as the Gophers were able to win comfortably despite the recent absence of their leading scorer, Dawson Garcia (18.2 PPG). Mike Mitchell, Joshua Ola-Joseph and freshman Cam Christie have stepped up -- but can this solid core step up again with increased competition?

Minnesota will play Maine on Friday, Dec. 29 before reopening Big Ten play at Michigan on Thursday, Jan. 4.