A compelling argument can be made that the Big Ten race will be decided by a newcomer.

Yes, Zach Edey is incredible — Purdue’s senior big man will be the conference (and perhaps national) player-of-the-year for a 2nd straight season — and the cast at Wisconsin, like Tyler Wahl, Max Klesmit and Chucky Hepburn, operate as a fantastic unit, but if the Boilermakers or Badgers are to win the title in early March, then it’ll likely be a newcomer who puts them over the top.

Purdue’s Lance Jones and Wisconsin’s AJ Storr have been big-time difference-makers, pushing each program’s ceiling upward this season. The same can be said for Illinois, which has relied heavily on transfers Marcus Domask and Quincy Guerrier, and the Fighting Illini’s quest for a title.

Open transfers have led to opportunities for players at new locations, and it’s happening in abundance in the Big Ten, with as many as 15 making significant impacts each week around the league. Let’s take a look at the 10 most influential this season (and we had to leave off some good ones) who have not only had great individual years, but — perhaps this is the most important criteria — have elevated the performances of their teams.

10. Jamison Battle

Jamison Battle transferred within the Big Ten, thinking his opportunity for an NCAA Tournament berth would be greater at Ohio State than Minnesota. It has not worked out that way, as his former team, the Golden Gophers, have positioned themselves for a better shot at an at-large bid. But after an injury-plagued final season in Minneapolis, the senior wing has been solid with his fresh start in Columbus, averaging 13.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game (both 2nd-highest among Buckeyes). Ohio State, however, is languishing — again — near the bottom of the Big Ten.

9. Ryan Langborg

The transition from Ivy League to the Big Ten isn’t an easy one for most, but Northwestern’s Ryan Langborg has settled in as a perfect complementary player in Evanston, because he’s a versatile offensive threat who gives the Wildcats a 3rd scorer with guard Boo Buie and forward Brooks Barnhizer. Langborg, a graduate of Princeton, is hitting 40% of his 3-pointers while averaging 11.5 points and 3.1 rebounds per game, while helping Northwestern push toward a 2nd-straight NCAA berth.

8. Olivier Nkamhoua

Michigan might be headed toward a last-place finish in the Big Ten. It certainly would be if not for the impact of Olivier Nkamhoua, a native of Finland who transferred in from Tennessee. The 6-9 forward has been the most consistent presence for the cellar-dwelling Wolverines, averaging 16.3 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.

7. Kel’el Ware

It’s not a coincidence that the Hoosiers have slid lately, with losses at Wisconsin and Illinois, because their big man — former Oregon center Kel’el Ware — has been out with an ankle injury. IU might go as he goes, because the 7-foot big man makes giant contributions at both ends. Ware is averaging a near double-double, at 14.2 points (2nd-best at IU) and 9.4 rebounds (best) per game, with 27 blocks. If Indiana rallies to an NCAA bid, then it’ll likely have much to do with Ware’s health and his performance.

6. Ben Krikke

Former Valparaiso star Ben Krikke hasn’t seen his production waver since transferring to Iowa, where the forward is leading the Hawkeyes in scoring at 15.7 points per game, while also averaging 5.1 rebounds. The 6-9 Valpo grad has given Iowa a solid inside presence, and a nice combination down low with freshman Owen Freeman, and is a reason why the Hawkeyes are still in the NCAA conversation, although they’ll need a strong 2nd half of the Big Ten season.

5. Rienk Mast

Rienk Mast was an excellent player at Bradley, where he scored 1,001 points and had 657 rebounds in 3 seasons, but looking for a bigger opportunity, he transferred to Lincoln, hoping he could be the piece that helped the Cornhuskers — finally — win an NCAA Tournament game. So far so good. Mast, a 6-10, has been a big-bodied in the paint, probably doing better than anyone else in the league in slowing down Edey in Nebraska’s win over Purdue in Lincoln. And he’s averaging 13.2 points (only 2nd to Keisei Tominaga’s 13.6) and a team-best 8.4 rebounds per game.

4. Elijah Hawkins

What a find for the Golden Gophers. After leading Howard to its first NCAA Tournament berth in 31 years, Elijah Hawkins is hoping to lead a rebirth in Minnesota, and he’s been great. The point guard is averaging 7.7 assists per game, the best mark in the entire country, and 8.5 points per game. The Gophers are hovering around NCAA consideration, although a 1-4 record in their past 5 games isn’t helping, but will need a strong push, with perhaps a .500 league mark (or slightly better) to earn a ticket.

3. Lance Jones

Lance Jones is the perfect fit for the Boilermakers, because he can affect games without having to be the centerpiece of Purdue’s plan offensively. The wing was a 2-time defensive all-league at Southern Illinois, and he has brought that defensive effort to West Lafayette. Plus, the senior graduate transfer is averaging 12.1 points per game (tied with Braden Smith for 2nd-best at Purdue), while hitting 34% of his 3-pointers. He’s changed the Boilermakers’ chemistry, making them more feared by opponents and better against the press and in transition.

2. Marcus Domask

When Terrence Shannon Jr. was suspended, Marcus Domask took over as the head of the Illini offense, and he thrived, twice going for more than 30 points in a couple of Illinois’ biggest victories. The big, physical guard is averaging 15.2 points (2nd only to Shannon) and 4.8 rebounds per game, and he’s shown that when Illinois needs a bucket, the Southern Illinois transfer is capable of backing down defenders and get opportunities for himself.

1. AJ Storr

Only a sophomore, AJ Storr transferred to Wisconsin following an excellent debut at St. John’s, where he was a starter the 2nd half of the year. At Wisconsin, he’s been a focal point from Day 1, averaging a team-best 15.9 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. A 6-7 guard, Storr was the missing piece for the Badgers because he can go get his own offense — his teammates lack the skill — with an array of moves near the basket and in mid-range, plus his 24 3-pointers are the 2nd-most makes on the team. Many thought Wisconsin would be solid this season but not a Big Ten title contender; he’s been the reason the Badgers are at the top.