1. MARYLAND

Eight players from last year's roster were selected in the MLB draft. They're all gone. But one of the nation's best pitchers, Mike Shawaryn, returns. Plus, the talented Terps are more than capable of reloading.

2. MICHIGAN

It's a program that's been on the verge of a breakthrough for a couple of years. Earning an automatic bid to a regional at the end of 2015 may have been the spark Michigan needed. The league coaches picked the Wolverines as the favorite.

3. ILLINOIS

The squad that went 21-1 in Big Ten play last year must reshape its pitching staff. Illinois' ace and shutdown reliever are both in the minors. But shortstop Adam Walton and catcher Jason Goldstein turned down pro contracts for one more collegiate season.

4. INDIANA

The Hoosiers surged late in coach Chris Lemonis' first season, winning nine of their last 10 regular-season games to earn a third straight NCAA tournament berth. Led by a seasoned pitching staff, they may be even better this season.

5. NEBRASKA

Seven seniors accounted for 40 percent of NU's offense and 50 percent of its innings last season. Who steps up now? The Huskers do have plenty of young talent, perhaps more overall depth than at any point in Darin Erstad's tenure.

6. IOWA

This was the conference's surprise team in 2015, finishing second in the league standings and making the NCAA tournament for the first time in 25 years. Can the Hawkeyes do it again? The return of two-way star Tyler Peyton certainly helps.

7. OHIO STATE

The month of May has been disastrous for the Buckeyes lately. During the last three years, they've posted a combined .363 winning percentage in the season's most important month. It's kept Ohio State from taking that next step.

8. MICHIGAN STATE

There were some heavy hitters in MSU's lineup one year ago, but none of them are on the 2016 roster. The Spartans' pitching staff, led by lefty Cam Vieaux, has to be as good as advertised.

9. PURDUE

In the three seasons since its breakthrough year in 2012, Purdue has produced a league record of 18-53. But the Boilermakers showed some signs of life late last season, winning their final five games. Improvement is expected.

10. MINNESOTA

Pitching has recently been a strength for the Gophers, but they produced a team ERA of 5.40 last year. It was their highest figure since 2008. One would expect longtime coach John Anderson to have a remedy for that.

11. RUTGERS

The Scarlet Knights went from the Big East (2013), to the AAC (2014), to the Big Ten (2015). So perhaps the familiarity will help. The Rutgers pitching staff, which produced a league-worst ERA of 6.34 last season, certainly must perform better.

12. PENN STATE

The plight of the northern baseball school has been chronicled quite well by the Nittany Lions. They started last season 1-13. They opened 2014 with a 5-12 record, went 5-21 to begin 2013 and started 2012 at 3-14. Perhaps this February will be more kind to PSU.

13. NORTHWESTERN

The Wildcats hired Spencer Allen this offseason. The former Creighton assistant has also worked at Illinois and Purdue. So he knows the Midwest. Now he's looking to rebuild a program that's lagged behind in the league's recent spending spree.

Jon Nyatawa

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