Spring preview 2018: Big Ten

Illinois' Nick Hardy (Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports)

Spring preview 2018: Big Ten

College

Spring preview 2018: Big Ten

As the college golf season gets ready to resume, Golfweek will preview each automatic-qualifier conference in Division I, offering picks to win, midseason All-Conference teams and more.

All of our conference previews will reside here.

Next up: Big Ten

Men

Conference championship: April 27-29, Baltimore (Md.) CC (East)

Defending champion: Illinois

Team rankings: Illinois (22), Penn State (37), Northwestern (41), Purdue (56), Michigan State (58), Minnesota (61), Iowa (65), Michigan (75), Ohio State (77), Maryland (81), Wisconsin (95), Indiana (99), Rutgers (130), Nebraska (169)

Midseason All-Conference team: Nick Hardy, Illinois (29); Kyle Mueller, Michigan (32); Dylan Wu, Northwestern (34); Charles Huntzinger, Penn State (66); Dylan Meyer, Illinois (67)

What to expect: An uncharacteristic winless fall full of mental errors, but Illinois proved the annual juggernaut is still there with a late runner-up (that really could’ve been a win) at the loaded Tavistock Collegiate Invitational. The Illini are still likely to be the favorites at the Big Ten Championship, where they’ve won three straight and eight of the last nine. The gap has closed a bit at the moment, but this conference for now is still about Illinois at the top.

Pick to win: Illinois

Women

Conference championship: April 20-22, TPC River’s Bend, Maineville, Ohio

Defending champion: Michigan State

Team rankings: Michigan State (11), Northwestern (13), Illinois (15), Purdue (19), Wisconsin (28), Penn State (50), Maryland (55), Michigan (60), Ohio State (61), Indiana (73), Iowa (92), Rutgers (104), Nebraska (105), Minnesota (108)

Midseason All-Conference team: Sarah Burnham, Michigan State (17); Paz Marfa Sans, Michigan State (25); Hannah Kim, Northwestern (37); Janet Mao, Northwestern (49); Jaclyn Lee, Ohio State (51)

What to expect: Three squads near the top of the conference (Michigan State, Illinois and Wisconsin) have jumped at least 20 spots from their end ranking in 2016-17. The Spartans are the biggest climbers, No. 45 to 11, which is no shock considering the team had a strong 2017 spring – punctuated by a surprise Big Ten title and an NCAA Championship appearance – and essentially brought back its entire roster. Northwestern is the defending national runner-up and any of the five teams in the top 30 have a good shot at Big Tens, so this one should be exciting. It’s also worth noting this side of the Big Ten has had a penchant for co-champions for the conference title in recent years. That could easily happen again, but Michigan State’s Sarah Burnham, Paz Marfa Sans and Allyson Geer trio feels like a potential decider.

Pick to win: Michigan State

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