Oct. 29, 2006
PARK RIDGE, Ill.- Defending Big Ten Champion Ohio State has been selected as the preseason Big Ten favorite for the 2006-07 men's basketball season, as voted upon by members of the media attending Big Ten Basketball Media Day. Wisconsin and Illinois are ranked second and third, respectively. In addition, Wisconsin forward Alando Tucker was named the Preseason Player of the Year and was joined on the Preseason All-Big Ten Team by Indiana's D.J. White, Iowa's Adam Haluska, Ohio State's Greg Oden and Penn State's Geary Claxton.
The Buckeyes return five letterwinners and one starter from a team that finished with a 26-6 overall record and 12-4 conference mark, while claiming their first outright Big Ten title since 1992. Entering only his third season at the OSU helm, reigning Big Ten Coach of the Year Thad Matta will aim to lead the Buckeyes to back-to-back conference crowns for the first time since the 1991 and 1992 campaigns.
With the return of four starters and three of its top four scorers from last season, Wisconsin follows Ohio State with a second-place showing in the preseason poll. The Badgers tied for fourth in the Big Ten standings last year with a 9-7 mark and 19-12 overall record, while advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the eighth straight season and fifth time under head coach Bo Ryan.
Illinois, which returns three starters from last year's squad, has been picked at the No. 3 preseason slot. Fourth-year head coach Bruce Weber guided the Fighting Illini to a second-place tie in the Big Ten standings with an 11-5 conference mark, just one game out of first. They closed out the season advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the seventh consecutive year and tallying a 26-7 overall record. Illinois and Duke are the only teams in the nation to win at least 25 games each of the last six seasons, which is the longest such streak in Big Ten history.
Wisconsin's Tucker was tabbed Preseason Player of the Year after claiming the Big Ten's scoring title (20.0 ppg) and earning first-team All-Conference accolades last year. He became the first Badger to lead the Big Ten in scoring since Don Rehfeldt won consecutive crowns in 1949 and 1950. Tucker also enters the 2006-07 season with 1,501 points in his career, making him just one of eight seniors in the country with at least 1,500 career points. He becomes the first Wisconsin standout to earn Preseason Player of the Year accolades since former teammate Devin Harris was voted as the coaches' pick in 2003.
The five-man Preseason All-Big Ten Team is highlighted by one first-team All-Big Ten returnee in Tucker, while Iowa's Haluska and Penn State's Claxton were named to the third team. White was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and an honorable-mention All-Conference pick in 2005 before missing most of last season due to injury. Oden becomes the first freshman to be named to the conference's Preseason All-Big Ten team since at least the 1993-94 season - records for preseason honors are unavailable prior to that time.
2006-07 Top Three Preseason Picks
|Team||2005-06 Final Records|
|1. Ohio State||26-6, 12-4 Big Ten (1st)|
|2. Wisconsin||19-12, 9-7 Big Ten (T4th)|
|3. Illinois||26-7, 11-5 Big Ten (T2nd)|
2006-07 Big Ten Preseason All-Conference Team
|Player||2005-06 Final Stats|
|D.J. White, IND, JR, F||9.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg|
|Adam Haluska, IOWA, SR, G||13.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg, .417 FG pct., .848 FT pct.|
|Greg Oden, OSU, FR, C||N/A|
|Geary Claxton, PSU, JR, G/F||15.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.40 spg, 0.79 bpg|
|Alando Tucker, WIS, SR, F||19.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.71 apg|
2006-07 Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year
Alando Tucker, WIS