Big Ten coaches voted defending Big Ten champion Nebraska as the conference favorite for the 2012 season, it was announced Thursday. Earning the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Championship last season, the Huskers top the poll for the first time as members of the Big Ten.
[BigTen.org: Nebraska selected preseason favorite by coaches]
Penn State and Purdue, which finished tied for second in the Big Ten in 2011, were voted to finish second and third this season, respectively. Minnesota, who finished fifth last season, was selected to finish fourth this year, while Illinois, which also finished 2011 tied for second, was tabbed fifth in the voting. Ohio State, which finished 9-11 in conference play last year, rounds out the poll at No. 6.
Additionally, conference coaches selected a Preseason All-Big Ten Team, which features two unanimous selections and eight returning members. Penn State’s Deja McClendon and Purdue’s Ariel Turner are unanimous selections and appear on the team for the second consecutive season, while Minnesota’s Tori Dixon and Ashley Wittman, Nebraska’s Lauren Cook and Hannah Werth, Northwestern’s Stephanie Holthus and Penn State’s Katie Slay are also two-time honorees.