LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

The stakes might just have been raised in the Michigan State men’s basketball team’s showdown with Duke next month.

The Spartans are No. 2 in the preseason coaches poll, released Thursday, trailing only the top-ranked Blue Devils. Michigan State and Duke meet Nov. 14 in the Champions Classic in Chicago, potentially setting up a showdown between No. 1 and No. 2.

Michigan and Oakland are unranked, but both received votes in the poll, collecting 13 and 19 points, respectively.

Duke received 20 of the 32 first-place votes, while Michigan State had nine. Arizona, ranked No. 5, received two first-place votes, and Florida (No. 7) one.

Michigan State finished 20-15 last season, getting bounced in the NCAA Tournament’s Round of 32 by Kansas, but return a talented sophomore class led by Miles Bridges, who turned down a surefire lottery selection in the NBA draft to remain in East Lansing. The Spartans also add five-star freshman Jaren Jackson Jr.

Michigan made a spirited run to the Big Ten tournament title last season, reaching the Sweet 16 before bowing out to Oregon. The Wolverines lost D.J. Wilson early to the NBA draft, as well as seniors Derrick Walton Jr. and Zak Irvin, but return big man Moritz Wagner.

Last season, Oakland (25-9) posted the second-most wins in program history — and while the Golden Grizzlies were upset in the Horizon League tournament, they did rally for a signature victory against Clemson in the NIT.

And Oakland has everybody back except Sherron Dorsey-Walker (graduated) and Stevie Clark (transferred). That includes Illinois transfer Kendrick Nunn and defensive standout Isaiah Brock, the U.S. Army veteran who has decided to continue playing college basketball after telling coach Greg Kampe over the summer that he was walking away from the game. Valparaiso also has left the Horizon League, seemingly creating a clear path for Oakland to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011.

Michigan State is one of four teams from the Big Ten in the poll, leading a group that includes Minnesota (No. 15), Northwestern (No. 20), and Purdue (No. 21).

COACHES’ POLL

1. Duke (28-9 last season), 774 points (20 first-place votes)

2. Michigan State (20-15), 747 (9)

3. Kansas (31-5), 723

4. Kentucky (32-6), 678

5. Arizona (32-5), 654 (2)

6. Villanova (32-4), 623

7. Florida (27-9), 549 (1)

8. Wichita State (31-5), 543

9. North Carolina (33-7), 515

10. West Virginia (28-9), 458

11. Southern California (26-10), 396

12. Miami (Fla.) (21-12), 383

13. Cincinnati (30-6), 349

14. Notre Dame (26-10), 305

15. Minnesota (24-10), 303

16. Louisville (25-9), 295

17. Xavier (24-14), 284

18. UCLA (31-5), 275

19. Gonzaga (37-2), 242

20. Northwestern (24-12), 208

21. Purdue (27-8), 167

22. St. Mary's (29-5), 152

23. Seton Hall (21-12), 139

24. Baylor (27-8), 107

25. Alabama (19-15), 82

Also receiving votes: Texas A&M 76, Virginia 57, Butler 43, Missouri 35, TCU 32, Rhode Island 31, Providence 21, Wisconsin 21, Maryland 20, Oakland 19, Oklahoma 19, Michigan 13, Texas 13, Virginia Tech 12, Oregon 12, Southern Methodist 6, Creighton 6, Georgia 3, Georgia Tech 3, Harvard 2, Arkansas 2, Florida State 1, South Carolina 1, Nevada 1.

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE