NCAA basketball coaches think a whole lot of Michigan basketball and are expecting a better year for Michigan State, according to the first Ferris Mowers Men’s Basketball Coaches Poll, powered by USA TODAY Sports, of the season.
The Wolverines came at No. 6 in the poll released Wednesday, behind Gonzaga, UCLA, Kansas, Villanova and Texas, respectively. Michigan, coming off an outright conference title and Elite Eight run, is the Big Ten’s top-ranked team, ahead of Purdue (No. 7) and Illinois (No. 10).
Though U-M lost contributors such as Mike Smith, Chaundee Brown and Franz Wagner, they return Hunter Dickinson, Eli Brooks and several others while adding five-star recruits Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate.
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Michigan State, which was bounced in the First Four, garnered votes but did not crack the top 25. Tom Izzo’s team finished 15-13 and lost three of its top scorers during the offseason: Joshua Langford, Rocket Watts and Aaron Henry.
But MSU feels its perimeter scoring may be better than season’s thanks to five-star freshman Max Christie as well as key additions Tyson Walker and Jaden Akins.
The Spartans play Ferris State in an exhibition Wednesday and the Wolverines play Wayne State in an exhibition Nov. 5. MSU’s first regular-season game will be Nov. 9, against the Jayhawks in Madison Square Garden in New York.
received 29 of 31 first-place votes cast. That could augur well for them, as last year’s first choice in the preseason, Baylor, wound up on top at the end.
The UCLA Bruins picked up the remaining two first-place votes. It’s their highest showing in the preseason poll since being picked No. 4 in 2008. Baylor will open its title defense at No. 8. The Houston Cougars, last year’s other Final Four participants, are No. 14.
Kansas heads a trio of Big 12 teams in the top 10 that includes Texas as well as the defending champion Bears.
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In all, the Big Ten boasts five ranked teams. The SEC also starts with five ranked members, headed by No. 11 Kentucky and also including No. 13 Alabama and No. 15 Arkansas.
The ACC is coming off a down year but still has four ranked squads. The voters are anticipating a bounce-back season for Duke, which missed the Big Dance last March but was rated No. 9. The Pac-12, on the other hand, had a hugely successful postseason but has only two ranked squads, with No. 12 Oregon joining the Bruins.
Though the power conferences hold a wide majority of the positions, the panel did recognize St. Bonaventure. The 24th-ranked Bonnies make their first Top-25 appearance since USA TODAY began administering the coaches poll in the 1991-92 season.
USAT Today colleges reporter Eddie Timanus contributed to this report.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan basketball No. 6 in 1st coaches poll, MSU unranked