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MSU hoops ranked No. 2 in Sporting News' early top 25

The Detroit News

Add The Sporting News to the list of sports networks and publications with high hopes for the Michigan State men’s basketball team.

The Sporting News has Michigan State at No. 2 in its updated “Way-Too-Early” top 25, which takes into account last week’s deadline to declare for the NBA draft. That’s been par for the course for the Spartans, who are ranked either No. 2 or No. 3 by several sites, including Yahoo!, ESPN, CBS Sports, and Fox Sports, and No. 1 by NBC Sports.

Of course, Michigan State got its biggest news regarding the NBA draft in April, when star and likely lottery pick Miles Bridges said he was returning to East Lansing for his sophomore season. That likely helped bump up the Spartans’ standing with The Sporting News, which had them at No. 5 in its April rankings.

“Yes, last season was underwhelming (20-15) for Spartans fans,” Ryan Fagan of The Sporting News wrote Tuesday. “But look at all those guys in the ‘key returnees’ list, and you start to see why Michigan State is ranked this high.

“The return of Miles Bridges was relatively surprising; he was projected as a lottery pick in most mock drafts, and players rated that highly usually don’t come back to college. Anyway, he’s back as the resident star (he averaged 16.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game), which is nice because aside from him, the Spartans will have size, they’ll have shooting and they’ll have ball-handling. And incoming big men Jaren Jackson (6-11) and Xavier Tillman (6-9) will be ready to make an immediate impact.”

Arizona is The Sporting News’ No. 1 team. MSU is one of four Big Ten teams in its top 25, followed by Minnesota (10), Purdue (23) and Northwestern (24). Michigan is not ranked.