Three-time defending conference champion Minnesota was tabbed by Big Ten coaches to win a fourth consecutive title.
The Gophers were named the preseason favorites in the coach’s poll released by the conference Monday.
Minnesota returns most of its core from a team that won the 2015-16 regular season title (its fifth consecutive spread across two conferences) with a 14-6-0-0 record before falling to Michigan in the Big Ten conference tournament championship. Senior captain Justin Kloos, who is the leading returning scorer among Big Ten players, and sophomore goaltender Eric Schierhorn are two of the four unanimous choices on the 13 player Big Ten Preseason Watch List.
Ohio State was selected second ahead of the conference’s lone NCAA Tournament representative Michigan. The Buckeyes, fourth place a season ago, had three players - Josh Healey, Mason Jobst and Nick Schilkey - named to the Watch List. Michigan, meanwhile, is represented by senior Alex Kile.
Penn State finished fourth ahead of Wisconsin and Michigan State. Nittany Lions defenseman Vince Pedrie and Badgers sophomore forward Luke Kunin are the other two unanimous selections.
The regular season kicks off October 6th when Penn State hosts St. Lawrence. Big Ten conference play begins December 1st.
Big Ten Preseason Watch List (bold means unanimous selection)
Alex Kile, F, Michigan
Mason Appleton, F, Michigan State
Jake Bischoff, D, Minnesota
Leon Bristedt, F, Minnesota
Justin Kloos, F, Minnesota
Eric Schierhorn, G, Minnesota
Josh Healey, D, Ohio State
Mason Jobst, F, Ohio State
Nick Schilkey, F, Ohio State
David Goodwin, F, Penn State
Vince Pedrie, D, Penn State
Luke Kunin, F, Wisconsin
Grant Besse, F, Wisconsin
Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation mostly covering both the University of Minnesota and Big Ten. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate