College basketball polls are worth less than the paper they're printed on, but the college basketball season has technically begun so we'll lower our standards and talk about this one: Michigan State will begin the 2012-2013 basketball season ranked 14th in the coaches' poll. That's a solid placement but still leaves MSU as just the fourth highest ranked Big Ten team, behind Indiana (#1), Ohio State (#4), and Michigan (#5). Wisconsin checks in at #21 and Minnesota received a few votes.
One of our favorite pundits thinks we've been DISREPSEKT'd, or something along those lines:
All in all not a bad preseason 25, coaches. But flip Michigan and Michigan State. is.gd/vvHmVy— John Gasaway (@JohnGasaway) October 17, 2012
I wouldn't go quite that far, but I think you can make an argument MSU should be a little closer to the top ten. When last season finished, I pointed at the large amounts of production that will need to be replaced this season, particularly on the defensive glass and behind the three-point line. That remains true. The flip side of Draymond Green becoming a Spartan all-timer is that his shoes will not be filled by a single player.
But as the offseason has progressed, I get a better vibe on the number of likely contributors there are to help fill those shoes. The fact that Russell Byrd has been named a captain indicates he's at full health and bodes well for his ability to become the sharpshooting threat he's been billed as since he committed to MSU (although his shot reportedly wasn't falling during the Midnight Madness scrimmage). Matt Costello sure sounds like the kind of big man who attacks the glass with the energy Tom Izzo demands and, therefore, can make immediate contributions off the bench. And between Brandan Kearney and Denzel Valentine, there should be at least one (if not two) versatile perimeter guys to fill out the rotation.
Some of that may just be standard preseason hype, but when you add those guys to the six-man core of players we don't have a lot of doubts about (Appling, Trice, Harris, Dawson, Payne, Nix), you get a roster that appears to have the kind of depth that Tom Izzo has almost always succeeded with in the past. A key question is whether Keith Appling can smoothly step into Green's role as the first option on offense in crunch time--and who steps in to take the secondary go-to role Appling filled last year (my bet: Derrick Nix).
MSU hasn't always thrived in the role of preseason favorite. Working off AP rankings, this will be the first time since the 2004-05 season that MSU will be ranked outside the top 10 but inside the top 25 (they were unranked going into the 2006-07 and 2011-12 seasons). That seems like a pretty good place to be (#analysis).
To close, this, since it has not yet graced the pages of TOC: