Oct. 28, 2010

ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) - Michigan State is the favorite to win the Big Ten this season and Spartans senior Kalin Lucas is the preseason player of the year, according to a vote of league media released Thursday.

Ohio State was second and Purdue came in third in rankings announced at the Big Ten's annual media day.

The Spartans were Big Ten regular season co-champions in 2009-10. They'll return three starters and nine letter winners from a team that went 28-9 and reached its second straight NCAA Final Four.

Lucas earned first-team All-Big Ten honors following the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons and was conference player of the year as a sophomore.

Joining Lucas on the preseason All-Big Ten team were Purdue's JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore, Illinois' Demetri McCamey and Wisconsin's Jon Leuer.

Ohio State returns four starters from last year's conference tournament champions, missing only Associated Press player of the year Evan Turner, who this week made his NBA debut with the Philadelphia 76ers. The Buckeyes went 29-6 and reached the NCAA Sweet 16.

Johnson, a forward/center, and Moore, a guard, are the only returning starters and among 10 letter winners back for the Boilermakers, who were 29-6 and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the fourth straight year.

For the women, Ohio State center Jantel Lavender was a unanimous pick as Big Ten's preseason player of the year while the Buckeyes were tabbed as favorites by both coaches and media to claim their seventh straight conference title.

Lavender, a three-time Big Ten Player of the year, averaged 21.4 points and 10.3 rebounds last season. The Buckeyes went 31-5 on the way to regular season and Big Ten tournament championships.

Five starters return for Ohio State, including junior guard Samantha Prahalis, a unanimous preseason All-Big Ten pick by the media.

Iowa guard Kachine Alexander was another unanimous pick and her Hawkeyes were a consensus No. 2 preseason pick. Michigan State was third.

Also on the preseason coaches team is Michigan State forward Kalisha Keane, Northwestern senior center Amy Jaeschke and Prahalis.