One year removed from a Final Four run, Michigan State is a near-unanimous pick to win the Big Ten regular-season title in the annual media poll.
Led by senior guard Cassius Winston, who received all but one vote for player of the year, the Spartans took home 27 of 28 first-place votes in the poll conducted jointly by The Dispatch and The Athletic. Not surprisingly, Winston was a unanimous selection to the all-conference team after averaging 18.8 points, 7.5 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game while being named the league’s player of the year.
It’s the third straight season in which the media has picked the Spartans to win the league, and they have lived up to expectations in both prior instances.
Falling in behind Michigan State is Maryland, which received the lone other first-place vote and finished with 349 of a possible 392 points in the poll. The Terrapins, buoyed by the return of senior point guard Anthony Cowan Jr. and led by rising sophomore star Jalen Smith, are poised to advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in four years.
After winning one NCAA Tournament game in each of coach Chris Holtmann’s first two seasons with the program, Ohio State is picked to make a leap to the top echelon of the conference. The Buckeyes, behind first-team all-conference pick Kaleb Wesson and freshman of the year D.J. Carton, finished third in the voting with 336 votes.
One year after they went 8-12 in league play, no voter picked the Buckeyes to finish worse than fifth in the league. Although they finished second in the Big Ten three years ago, they were picked 11th and eighth, respectively, in the last two preseason media polls.
Michigan, under first-year coach Juwan Howard, was picked to finish fifth, but votes for the Wolverines varied widely. Michigan received four fourth-place votes and one vote to finish 11th. The prognosis was worse for Fred Hoiberg’s first year as Nebraska: the Cornhuskers finished 13th in the voting, ahead only of Northwestern. The Wildcats took home 22 of the 28 last-place votes while Nebraska received five.
Here is how the voting broke down. First-place votes are in parenthesis. If you'd like to see how each participant voted, you can click here.
1. Michigan State 391 (27)
2. Maryland 349 (1)
3. Ohio State 336
4. Purdue 311
5. Michigan 255
6. Wisconsin 241
7. Illinois 239
8. Iowa 174
9. Penn State 164
10. Indiana 155
11. Minnesota 127
12. Rutgers 95
13. Nebraska 69
14. Northwestern 34
The only player aside from Winston to receive a vote for player of the year was Smith, who also placed on the all-conference team. Here’s the five-man team:
Cassius Winston, Michigan State (28, unanimous)
Lamar Stevens, Penn State (26)
Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois (18)
Anthony Cowan, Maryland (16)
Kaleb Wesson, Ohio State (14)
Also receiving votes: Zavier Simpson, Michigan (13), Jalen Smith (12), Joe Weiskamp, Iowa (5), Nojel Eastern, Purdue, and Xavier Tillman, Michigan State (2), Giorgi Bezhanishvili, Illinois, Matt Haarms, Purdue, Geo Baker, Rutgers, and Aaron Henry, Michigan State (1).
Ohio State’s Carton received 15 votes for freshman of the year, besting teammate E.J. Liddell, who had four. Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis and Michigan’s Franz Wagner each received three votes and Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn, Indiana’s Jerome Hunter and Michigan State’s Rocket Watts each received one vote.
Big Ten media day will take place Wednesday in Chicago.
Here’s a list of the voters:
Scott Richey — Illinois | Champaign News-Gazette
Jeremy Werner — Illinois | 247Sports
Alex Bozich — Indiana | Inside The Hall
Zach Osterman — Indiana | Indianapolis Star
Mark Emmert — Iowa | The Des Moines Register
Chad Leistikow — Iowa | The Des Moines Register
Patrick Stevens — Maryland | The Athletic
Emily Giambalvo — Maryland | The Washington Post
Dylan Burkhardt — Michigan | UMHoops
Nick Baumgardner — Michigan | The Athletic
Brendan Quinn — Michigan State | The Athletic
Graham Couch — Michigan State | Lansing State Journal
Marcus Fuller — Minnesota | Star Tribune
Ryan James — Minnesota | 247Sports
Chris Basnett — Nebraska | Lincoln Journal Star
Christopher Heady — Nebraska | Omaha World-Herald
Teddy Greenstein — Northwestern | Chicago Tribune
Shannon Ryan — Illinois/Northwestern | Chicago Tribune
Adam Jardy — Ohio State | Columbus Dispatch
Bill Landis — Ohio State | The Athletic
Audrey Snyder — Penn State | The Athletic
David Jones — Penn State | The Harrisburg Patriot-News
Dustin Dopirak — Purdue | The Athletic
Brian Neubert — Purdue | Rivals
Jerry Carino — Rutgers | Asbury Park Press
Joshua Newman — Rutgers |Asbury Park Press
Jim Polzin — Wisconsin | Wisconsin State Journal
Jeff Potrykus — Wisconsin | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel