Wisconsin was a unanimous selection atop the preseason Big Ten media poll released Wednesday. The Badgers made the Final Four last season for the first time under head coach Bo Ryan.
The Badgers received first-place votes from all 27 Big Ten writers that participated in the poll, making them a heavy favorite to win the conference for the first time since 2008.
Wisconsin is coming off a 30-8 season last year that saw the team make the Final Four for the first time under head coach Bo Ryan and for the first time since 2000. The Badgers return almost all of their major contributors from 2013-14, including point guard Traevon Jackson, forward Nigel Hayes, guard Josh Gasser, NBA prospect Sam Dekker and 7-footer Frank Kaminsky, one of the breakout stars of last year's NCAA tournament.
Under Ryan, who has been the team's coach since 2001, Wisconsin has finished no worse than fourth in the Big Ten.
The Buckeyes will be a young team this season after the departures of Aaron Craft, Lenzelle Smith and LaQuinton Ross, but they bring in a star-studded recruiting class featuring guard D'Angelo Russell and forward Keita Bates-Diop. Ohio State also features transfer Anthony Lee from Temple.
Nebraska, which made the NCAA tournament last season for the first time since 1998, has a returning star in guard/forward Terran Petteway, while Michigan hopes guard Caris LeVert develops into a star after the Wolverines lost three players to the NBA, including Big Ten Player of the Year Nik Stauskas.
The Big Ten holds its annual media day on Thursday. The conference will release a preseason all-Big Ten team and player of the year at the event, as well as its own poll naming just the top three teams.
- Ben Estes