It may be the heart of the college football season, but before you know it, the college basketball season will be starting back up.
For the Michigan State Spartans and head basketball coach and March mastermind Tom Izzo, expectations are still high coming off a miraculous Final Four run a season ago. This is despite losing the likes of Travis Trice and Branden Dawson to the NBA.
However, the Spartans still have some serious talent for a few years to come. Returning stars include seniors Denzel Valentine and Matt Costello. They also have a solid recruiting class coming in, highlighted by two ESPN 100 players in Matt McQuaid and Deyonta Davis, who was Mr. Basketball in the state of Michigan a year ago. The Spartans also have junior transfer Eron Harris, who left West Virginia at the end of his sophomore year in 2013-’14. Harris, however, is indefinitely suspended following an OWI arrest back in July.
Izzo’s 2016 class is even more loaded than his incoming 2015 recruits, so Michigan State will be very deep and talented on paper for a few years. Many of the popular media outlets are taking notice.
Recently, CBSSports ranked all 351 college basketball programs with a little over a month before the season begins. For the reasons list above, including the head coach, of course, Michigan State is ranked as the 11th best team in the nation, according to CBSSports.
The North Carolina Tar Heels are currently ranked at the top. The defending champion Duke Blue Devils are 7th, despite their trio of superstar freshmen going pro this past June. Believe it or not, the Spartans are not the highest-ranked team in the Big Ten. The Maryland Terrapins, who shocked many college basketball fans by winning 14 games in their first year as a member of the Big Ten conference, 28 wins in total, are ranked 4th in CBSSports’ preseason rankings.
Not that Michigan State players and fans would really care, but their rivals down the road in Ann Arbor are ranked 30th in the month-early preseason rankings.