UW Health Sports Medicine 

Overheard at Big Ten media day...

All 11 Big Ten Conference men's basketball head coaches had the opportunity to address the media Thursday as part of media day activities in Chicago, the same day the league announced its preseason poll and preseason All-Big Ten team.

Michigan State was tabbed as the favorite to win the Big Ten for a second-straight season, while the Spartans' Kalin Lucas earned preseason player of the year honors.

Joining Lucas on the All-Big Ten squad -- which is comprised completely of juniors -- are Michigan's Manny Harris, Ohio State's Evan Turner, Penn State's Talor Battle and Purdue's Robbie Hummel.

Behind Michigan State, Purdue was projected for a second-place league finish, while Ohio State has been tabbed for third.

A total of five Big Ten squads were included in the newly-released USA Today-ESPN preseason coaches' poll, led by the Spartans at No. 2. Also in the initial rankings are Purdue (7), Michigan (15), Ohio State (17) and Minnesota (18).

Here's a sampling of what the coaches had to say about the league heading into the 2009-10 campaign:

Tom Crean - Indiana
"I think from top to bottom, this league is full of star power. It's full of the balance that we're talking about, and it's hard to look on the schedule and see any team that doesn't have a guard that doesn't carry their team."

Tom Izzo - Michigan State
"I honestly see eight, nine teams that realistically could win the league. Top to bottom, the league is the best it's been in a long time and that's going to leave a lot of great games and a lot of pressure on everybody night in, night out."

Thad Matta - Ohio State
"I think, number one, you've got to be a great road team. You're going to have to get some wins on the road that maybe you're not projected to get."

Ed Dechellis - Penn State
"The league is as good as it's been top to bottom. There's nobody here to point to that says 'I think we can get them at home,' or 'Here's a win here.' There's none of those, so you better be ready 18 nights."

Matt Painter - Purdue
"There are absolutely zero wins on the Big Ten schedule this year. Anybody can beat anybody else on the road, at home, and I think that means you have a great conference."

Several coaches also weighed in on the idea of the Big Ten playing a 20-game conference schedule in which each team faces each of the others twice every season.

Bruce Weber - Illinois
"I think it's probably coming down the road. I'm not sure as a coach - I think we all don't feel great about it. I think it's a good thing for having a true league champion. The problem is you don't have the opportunity then to play the non-conference games, some of the national games, possibly the exempt events, some of those things."

Todd Lickliter - Iowa

"If we did that, you've got to look at your non-conference schedule and make sure things fit accordingly. But I don't know that that's a problem."

As usual, there was plenty of coaching philosophy offered up, as well...

"We know that the expectations are low, but if predictions always came true, then there would be no need to play the games." - Lickliter

"Everybody looks at the scores and the rebounds and all of those types of things. Sometimes, there's a lot of winning plays in there that separate us from the other team." - Michigan coach John Beilein

"I wish last year were still here, but it's not. It's time to move on." - Michigan State coach Tom Izzo

"November's a funny time, because you start doing one thing, you're working on defense and then you want to move to the next thing, but you don't know if you really have it down." - Northwestern coach Bill Carmody