Michigan State and Michigan are predicted to be the top two basketball teams in the Big Ten this season.
In a media poll of 28 writers — two for each team in the conference — the Spartans are the overwhelming favorite to win the Big Ten, with the Wolverines finishing second in the standings.
Michigan State, which won last season’s Big Ten regular-season title, received 22 first-place votes, and wasn’t picked lower than No. 2 on any ballot.
Michigan, winners of the past two Big Ten tournaments and last season’s national runner-up, was tabbed by all 28 voters to finish between first and fourth, placing No. 1 on four ballots and No. 2 on 18 of them.
The Spartans will enter the season without stars Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr., who both left for the NBA, but return three starters in junior guards Cassius Winston and Joshua Langford and junior forward Nick Ward.
The Wolverines have major losses in prized big man Moritz Wagner (NBA), do-it-all guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and sharpshooter Duncan Robinson. However, Michigan brings back seven players from last season’s Final Four team, highlighted by redshirt junior wing Charles Matthews, junior guard Zavier Simpson, junior center Jon Teske and sophomore guard Jordan Poole.
Both teams also have brought in top-20 recruiting classes, with Michigan’s crop of freshmen ranked No. 12 in the nation and Michigan State’s No. 17, according to 247Sports.
Winston was named to the preseason All-Big Ten team along with Purdue’s Carsen Edwards, Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ, Nebraska’s James Palmer Jr. and Indiana’s Juwan Morgan.
Edwards was also voted as the Big Ten preseason player of the year and Indiana’s Romeo Langford was the unanimous choice for preseason freshman of the year.
Since the Big Ten does not officially compile a preseason basketball poll, the media poll was conducted by The Athletic and The Columbus Dispatch.
Big Ten preseason poll
(Out of a possible 392 votes)
1. Michigan State (386)
2. Michigan (360)
3. Indiana (305)
4. Nebraska (293)
5. Purdue (269)
6. Wisconsin (263)
7. Maryland (240)
8. Ohio State (177)
9. Minnesota (168)
10. Iowa (154)
11. Penn State (134)
12. Northwestern (95)
13. Illinois (65)
14. Rutgers (31)
All-Big Ten first team
Carsen Edwards, Purdue (unanimous)
Ethan Happ, Wisconsin (unanimous)
James Palmer Jr., Nebraska (23)
Cassius Winston, Michigan State (16)
Juwan Morgan, Indiana (12)
Also receiving votes:Nick Ward (9), Michigan State; Jordan Murphy (7), Minnesota; Romeo Langford (6), Indiana; Charles Matthews (5), Michigan; Anthony Cowan (4), Maryland; Isaiah Livers (1), Michigan; Zavier Simpson (1), Michigan.
Individual preseason picks
Player of the year: Carsen Edwards (23), Ethan Happ (4), Charles Matthews (1)
Freshman of the year: Romeo Langford (unanimous)