The Wisconsin Badgers found another way to get to the NCAA tournament last season, despite some early season struggles and the mid-season retirement of Bo Ryan. With the majority of the team that made it to the Sweet 16 back, the Badgers were named the preseason favorite in the Big Ten last month.
Wisconsin also leads the Big Ten contingent in the preseason AP College Basketball Poll. UW comes in at No. 9 in the country after ending last season unranked by the AP voters.
The Badgers return three star players in Ethan Happ, Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig, but most importantly return nearly 99 percent of its scoring from a team that found its footing with Greg Gard at the helm for the second half of the year.
In total, five Big Ten teams were thought highly enough of to make the Preseason AP Poll. Following the Badgers were Indiana (No. 11), Michigan State (No. 12), Purdue (No. 15) and Maryland (No. 25).
It’s an interesting group to look at, especially the Terps, who lost some of the biggest parts to an impressive team last season, including star center Diamond Stone. However, the team also returns star guard Melo Trimble and could be a really dangerous team come B1G play.
Michigan State made plenty of people fall in love with them thanks to its run to the Big Ten tournament title, but crashed out of the NCAA tournament with an embarrassing loss to 15th-seeded Middle Tennessee.
Indiana will look to become the first back-to-back Big Ten regular season champions since Ohio State either shared or won outright the title from 2010-2012. The pollsters clearly believe they are a major contender, despite the graduation of Yogi Ferrell.
There’s plenty to like about all of these teams, as names like Caleb Swanigan, James Blackmon Jr., Robert Johnson were named preseason All-Big Ten and dot the rosters of Purdue and Indiana specifically.
Given the names and the preseason polls, the Big Ten should be in for another great year on the hardwood.
Can any of them break the Big Ten’s national title drought though? That seems to be the biggest question at hand.