Badgers unanimous pick to win Big Ten basketball title

This marks Wisconsin's first-ever preseason No. 1 conference ranking under men's basketbal coach Bo Ryan. The Badgers have been in the top three of the preseason rankings six times during Ryan's 14-year tenure.

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ROSEMONT, Ill. — Expectations for Wisconsin’s men’s basketball team have never been higher. It should come as no surprise, then, that the Badgers are a unanimous pick to win the Big Ten title this season based on a preseason vote by the league’s media members released Thursday.

This marks Wisconsin’s first-ever preseason No. 1 conference ranking under coach Bo Ryan. The Badgers have been in the top three of the preseason rankings six times during Ryan’s 14-year tenure. Michigan State was picked to finish second this season, while Ohio State was third.

In addition, Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky has been tabbed as the Big Ten Player of the Year and is the only player to be a unanimous first-team all-conference pick. Other first-team preseason picks are Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker, Michigan’s Caris LeVert, Nebraska’s Terran Petteway and Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell.

Kaminsky is the third Badgers player to be named conference preseason player of the year, joining Alando Tucker (2006-07) and Devin Harris (2003-04). Both of those players went on to win the league’s postseason player of the year honor as well.

A year ago, Kaminsky burst onto the national scene with a stellar NCAA tournament performance. He scored 28 points with 11 rebounds during Wisconsin’s 64-63 Elite Eight victory against Arizona and was named the West Region’s most outstanding player.

Kaminsky led the team last season in points (13.9) and rebounds per game (6.3). Dekker, meanwhile, ranked third in scoring (12.4 points) and second in rebounding (6.1).

This year’s media vote represents the first time Wisconsin has had two players named to the preseason all-conference team. Dekker and Kaminsky are the ninth and 10th players under Ryan to earn preseason all-conference team honors.

UW returns seven of its top eight scorers from last season, which culminated with a 30-8 record and the program’s first Final Four appearance since 2000. The Badgers bring back four starters: Kaminsky, Dekker, guard Josh Gasser and point guard Traevon Jackson. Also returning is forward Duje Dukan and last year’s Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year Nigel Hayes.

Wisconsin opens its season with an exhibition game against UW-Parkside on Wednesday, Nov. 5, at the Kohl Center. The Badgers’ official season opener is on Nov. 14 against Northern Kentucky and will include a special commemorative ceremony to honor last year’s Final Four team.

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