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Michigan State Basketball: Spartans picked No. 6 in Big Ten media preseason poll

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 07 Michigan at Michigan State Photo by Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Michigan State Spartans men’s basketball team had its worst finish in the final Big Ten regular season standings last season — tied for eighth place with Maryland — since the 1992-1993 season. That was the last time MSU, under then head coach Jud Heathcote, tied for eighth place, though back then there were only 11 teams in the Big Ten, as Penn State was competing as a brand new conference member for the first time that season.

Despite that poor finish, the Spartans have a retooled roster this year with transfers like point guard Tyson Walker and freshmen Max Christie, Jaden Akins and Pierre Brooks II joining the lineup. Even with the new-look roster, however, Big Ten media members are not too high on this Spartan squad heading into the 2021-2022 season. In the preseason media poll released Wednesday morning, Michigan State was picked to finish No. 6 in the final standings this season, though by a narrow seven points behind No. 5 Maryland, and well ahead of No. 7 Indiana, as the Hoosiers were 43 points behind the Spartans in voting.

The full league vote results are below. Michigan received the same number of points in ballots as Purdue, but received one more first place vote, giving the Wolverines the narrow edge over the Boilermakers to be the favorite to win a regular season title under head coach Juwan Howard without an asterisk added on in the record books by fans. Illinois, Ohio State and Maryland were all picked in third through fifth place, respectively, ahead of Michigan State.

Big Ten preseason media poll

  1. Michigan 373 (13)
  2. Purdue 373 (12)
  3. Illinois 320
  4. Ohio State 316
  5. Maryland 269
  6. Michigan State 262
  7. Indiana 219
  8. Rutgers 208
  9. Iowa 150
  10. Wisconsin 149
  11. Nebraska 105
  12. T - Northwestern 81
    T - Penn State 81
  13. Minnesota 34

As for players, Kofi Cockburn was the overwhelming favorite to win Player of the Year. Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson, the reigning Freshman of the Year, finished tied for fourth place in the balloting.

Speaking of freshmen, Michigan State’s heralded freshman Max Christie was second on the ballot to win Freshman of the Year for the season, trailing Michigan’s Caleb Houstan by 13 votes, but besting Nebraska’s Bryce McGowens by six votes.

Player of the year voting

  1. 1. Kofi Cockburn (11)
  2. 2. Jaden Ivey (5)
  3. 3. E.J. Liddell (4)
  4. T - Hunter Dickinson (3)
    T - Trayce Jackson-Davis (3)
  5. 6. Trevion Williams (2)

Freshman of the year voting

  1. Caleb Houstan (20)
  2. Max Christie (7)
  3. Bryce McGowens (1)

All-Big Ten voting

  • Kofi Cockburn (27)
  • E.J. Liddell (26)
  • Hunter Dickinson (25)
  • Jaden Ivey, Purdue (21)
  • Trayce Jackson-Davis (20)

Others receiving votes:

  • Trevion Williams, Purdue (10)
  • Eric Ayala, Maryland (4)
  • Andre Curbelo, Illinois (2)
    DeVante Jones, Michigan (2)
  • Geo Baker, Rutgers (1)
  • Ron Harper Jr., Rutgers (1)
  • Caleb Houstan, Michigan (1)​