The Ohio State basketball team was selected by the media to repeat as Big Ten champions, the conference announced Thursday morning.
One of the main reasons the Buckeyes are tabbed to repeat as conference champions is likely due to the return of sophomore big man Jared Sullinger, who was selected as the Big Ten’s Preseason Player of the Year.
The Buckeyes enter the season having lost seniors David Lighty, Jon Diebler and Dallas Lauderdale but are coming off a remarkable 34-3 record after claiming both the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles.
After achieving the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Buckeyes season fell short of expectations when they were eliminated in the Sweet 16 by Kentucky.
Sullinger’s return gives the Buckeyes a shot to advance further in this year’s tournament, as the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year is poised to enter his sophomore season after recording 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.
“Jared had told me a year ago last summer that he was going to be here for at least two years,” coach Thad Matta said in his press conference. “And so there was no shock and awe in my mind when he announced that he was coming back. He had told me that all along.
“And even throughout the course of the season we would have half-heartedly joke about it. And he was very true to his word. It’s a great young man. It’s a great family. He’s grounded and true to his word.”
Picked to finish second in the conference was Wisconsin, who returns two starters this season after making its 13th-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance a year ago. Michigan State, who also returns two starters, was tabbed by the media to finish third.
Joining Sullinger on the Preseason all-Big Ten team are Michigan State’s Draymond Green, Minnesota’s Trevor Mbakwe, Purdue’s Robbie Hummel and Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor.
Don’t forget the women: The Ohio State women’s team also got some preseason honors on Thursday, as senior point guard Samantha Prahalis was named the Big Ten co-favorite to win the conference’s player of the year honors.
Ohio State finds itself in uncharted territory, however, as they were’t picked to finish in the top three in the Big Ten this season. Penn State was the consensus favorite, backed by co-Preseason Player of the Year Alex Bentley, and are followed by Purdue.
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