College Basketball Preview: Michigan State Is the Team to Beat in the Big Ten

The Big Ten should once again be one of the deepest conferences in the country, but the Spartans appear to be in a class of their own.

Few college basketball conferences could weather the storm of two of its biggest programs simultaneously experiencing downswings without experiencing a conference-wide downturn of its own. But the Big Ten managed to earn seven NCAA Tournament bids last season despite the struggles at Indiana and Ohio State. which were big enough to lead to coaching changes at both powerhouse schools.

In place of the usual perennial powers, rising contenders Minnesota and Northwestern joined the likes of Purdue, Wisconsin, and Michigan to create what was once again one of the deepest and toughest conferences in the country. Each of the teams that made last year's tournament has a good shot at earning bids again this season, and the group should be paced by a big national brand in Michigan State, a program that finds itself on nearly every preseason short list of national title contenders.