Tom Izzo’s career achievements at Michigan State include a national championship, eight Final Fours and six Big Ten Tournament championships. On Monday, after 24 years in East Lansing, he and the Spartans are the AP preseason No. 1 college basketball team for the first time in program history.
Here is the the complete preseason AP Top 25:
AP Poll: Preseason Top 25
|1||Michigan State (60)||1,619||32-7|
|20||Saint Mary’s (Cal)||330||22-12|
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Michigan State is No. 1 in the AP, Power 36 and KenPom
Point guard Cassius Winston headlines a team returning much of its 2019 Final Four roster. Michigan State’s depth has attracted plenty of offseason attention as NCAA.com’s Andy Katz has the Spartans atop his Power 36 while the 2020 Pomeroy College Basketball Ratings also list MSU first in its preseason rankings.
Kentucky, Kansas and Duke file in after Sparty in the AP poll. Ashton Hagans (UK) and Tre Jones (Duke) share a common thread of reaching the Elite Eight last season. Both are now vaulted into the role of veteran floor generals on teams primarily comprised of highly-touted freshmen. In Lawrence, the Jayhawks also have a savvy lead guard in Devon Dotson, complemented by the inside presence of Udoka Azubuike.
The teams ranked Nos. 1-4 tip off the 2019-20 season at the Champions Classic on Nov. 6, pitting Michigan State against Kentucky while Duke takes on Kansas in the back end of the doubleheader. The same four programs met at the 2018 edition of the event: Michigan State edged Kansas and Duke handled Kentucky.
This is the fourth time in five years the Wildcats start at No. 2. Duke’s inclusion in the rankings ties the Blue Devils for third all-time with 44 appearances in the preseason poll. Louisville, led by ACC Preseason Player of the Year Jordan Nwora, rounds out the top five. The remainder of the top 10 is made up of Florida at No. 6, followed by Maryland, Gonzaga, North Carolina and Villanova.
Defending NCAA champ Virginia is No. 11
While Michigan State leads the pack to open the new campaign, its Final Four counterparts from a season ago will also begin the season in the Top 25. Virginia begins its title defense at No. 11, followed by Texas Tech at No. 13 and Auburn at No. 24. The Cavaliers and Red Raiders lost a combined seven starters from last year’s national championship game. They become the third-title game pairing in preseason poll history to begin the next season outside the Top 10.
Some of last season’s contenders are reloading. On the other hand, surprise teams such as Memphis and Utah State could be even better this year.
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The Tigers start the year at No. 14 and are considered the co-favorites in the American Athletic Conference. Ranked in the preseason for the first time since 2014, a group led by James Wiseman could do a lot more than just make the field of 68.
Utah State, fresh off a Mountain West Tournament title, is in the preseason Top 25 for the first time since 1971. At No. 17, the Aggies are the lone representative in the poll for the Mountain West. With Sam Merrill and Neemias Queta back, coach Craig Smith has a strong inside-outside combination and a chance to repeat as conference champions.
Here’s a breakdown of the Top 25 by conference.