Media poll: Wisconsin is favorite to win Big Ten

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

After reaching the Final Four last year, Wisconsin could be in store for another special season.

The Badgers return the core of their roster and are the unanimous pick to win the Big Ten this season, according to an unofficial poll of 27 Big Ten basketball beat writers, conducted by Bob Baptist of the Columbus Dispatch.

Ohio State was picked to finish second, followed by Michigan State, Nebraska and Michigan.

The Wolverines, who won the Big Ten regular-season title last season, lost Nik Stauskas, Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III to the NBA. They have seven freshmen on their roster but return Caris LeVert, expected to be one of the top players in the Big Ten.

Michigan State, which won the Big Ten Tournament championship last year, also returns some key players, including Denzel Valentine, Branden Dawson and Travis Trice.

Wisconsin went 30-8 last season before falling to Kentucky in the national semifinals. The Badgers were led by big man Frank Kaminsky, who could be the preseason Big Ten player of the year. Sam Dekker, Traevon Jackson and Nigel Hayes add to one of the top groups of returning players in the league.

Maryland and Rutgers, the two new teams in the conference this season, were picked to finish in the bottom half of the standings. The Terrapins were slotted at 10th and the Scarlet Knights were last in the media poll.

The official conference preseason polls will be released Thursday morning at Big Ten media day in Chicago.