Media panels at the Big Ten basketball media day gathering in Chicago picked Ohio State head coach Thad Matta’s men’s team to finish third in the conference while Jim Foster’s women’s squad was tabbed as the favorite to win an unprecedented sixth consecutive conference championship.
Additionally, the women’s basketball coaches picked the Buckeyes to win the Big Ten. There is only a media poll for the men.
The media panel picked defending champion and national runner-up Michigan State to win the Big Ten men’s basketball championship with Purdue second and Ohio State No. 3.
The Spartans return three starters from a 31-7 team that went 15-3 in the Big Ten last year, including conference player of the year Kalin Lucas, a junior guard.
Lucas is the preseason player of the year and joins Ohio State guard/forward Evan Turner, Michigan guard Manny Harris, Penn State guard Talor Battle and Purdue forward Robbie Hummel on the preseason all-conference team. Lucas, Turner, Harris and Battle were all first-team all-conference picks last season while Hummel was a third-team pick last season and a first-teamer the year before.
Both Purdue and Ohio State return all five starters.
Last year turner averaged 17.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.97 assists per game as the Buckeyes posted a 22-11 overall mark and finished in a fourth-place tie in the Big Ten with a conference record of 10-8.
Matta’s team bowed out of the NCAA Tournament in the first round with a double-overtime loss to Sienna.
On the women’s side, the conference releases a full slate of predictions with both panels picking Michigan State second. The media picked Purdue third followed by Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Penn State, Indiana, Northwestern and Michigan.
The coaches picked Minnesota third followed by the Boilermakers, Hawkeyes, Fighting Illini, Nittany Lions, Wildcats, Hoosiers, Badgers and Wolverines.
Foster’s squad will be led by preseason player of the year Jantel Lavender, a junior center who was the conference player of the year last year and co-player of the year a season before that.
Last season, the 6-4 Cleveland native led the Big Ten in scoring (20.8 points per game) and rebounding (10.7) on her way to earning All-America honors.
This year, she is one of five players picked to the preseason All-Big Ten team along with teammate Samantha Prahalis, forward Jenna Smith of Illinois, center Allyssa DeHaan of Michigan State and forward Tyra Grant of Penn State. The coaches and media both picked the same five players, with both groups tabbing Lavender a unanimous pick and the coaches tabbing Smith a unanimous choice as well.
Prahalis is a point guard who led the Big Ten in assists last season and the reigning conference freshman of the year.
The women’s basketball Buckeyes return four starters from a team that went 29-6 last season and advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005. Ohio State lost there to eventual national runner-up Stanford.
Ohio State has won 12 Big Ten women’s basketball titles, more than any other program, and last year equaled its own record by winning at least a share of the championship for the fifth year in a row.