Do Big Ten preseason favorites pan out?

July, 20, 2011
7/20/11
10:00
AM ET
The whirlwind that is Big Ten media days will begin hours before the first coach (Illinois' Ron Zook) steps to the dais July 28, as the league announces its preseason favorite, the top two runner-ups and the picks for Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year.

Check the blog bright and early that day as we'll post this year's selections.

These picks are made by media members from around the Big Ten. Bennett and I haven't been asked to vote, which I'm sure many of you view as a genius move by the conference.

This year's vote for Big Ten preseason favorite is particularly intriguing. Ohio State has gotten the nod in each of the past three seasons, but the Buckeyes are dealing with significant personnel turnover, the May 30 resignation of coach Jim Tressel and the June 7 departure of quarterback Terrelle Pryor. While Ohio State still could be selected the favorite, some would view it as a surprise. Wisconsin and Nebraska are likelier choices, and Michigan State is in the mix as well.

So how often does the Big Ten preseason favorite pan out? How often is the media right?



Some notes and thoughts:
  • The preseason favorite has earned at least a share of the Big Ten title in seven of the past 15 years, including each of the past three. Even though Ohio State will vacate all its wins and its league title from 2010, I think the preseason pick still should count because of what transpired between the lines. Still, that's not a great prediction percentage (.467). The preseason favorite won the outright title just twice (Ohio State in 2006 and 2009). The percentage likely will worsen in the coming years as the Big Ten will have outright champions beginning this season.
  • Anyone else surprised that only four teams -- Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Northwestern -- have been named Big Ten preseason favorites? Wisconsin and Iowa certainly could have earned the nod in certain seasons.
  • The biggest whiff undoubtedly came in 2001, as a Northwestern team coming off of a co-championship and loaded with seniors fell apart during Big Ten play. The Penn State pick in 1999 looks bad, too, although the Nittany Lions were rolling before their last-second home loss to Minnesota.
  • Several eventual Big Ten champions (outright or shared) didn't even appear among the top three teams in preseason voting. These include: Michigan State in 2010, Penn State in 2008 and 2005, Iowa in 2002, Illinois in 2001, Wisconsin in 1999 and 1998 and Northwestern in 1996.
  • Ohio State has been in the preseason top three in each of the past 10 years and in all but one season since 1996 (2000). Michigan was in the top three every year between 1996-2007 before being absent in each of the past three seasons.
  • Indiana and Minnesota are the only two Big Ten teams -- besides newcomer Nebraska, of course -- never to appear among the top three preseason selections.

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