The annual preseason coaches poll for college basketball is still months away, but Michigan State is already receiving plenty of praise.
In CBS Sports’ annual candid coaches series that surveyed more than 100 Division I coaches, the Spartans garnered the second-most votes in a poll for best team in 2017-18.
Arizona was the popular pick and received 40 percent of the vote, followed by Michigan State (28 percent), Duke (9 percent), Kansas (9 percent) and Louisville (6 percent).
The Spartans return a core of talented sophomores and has a formidable frontcourt presence, led by likely All-American Miles Bridges and Nick Ward, who are both among ESPN’s top 25 college basketball players.
On top of that, Michigan State also added a pair of impact freshmen in forwards Jaren Jackson Jr. and Xavier Tillman.
Here’s what three anonymous coaches had to say about Michigan State:
■ “Has (Spartans coach Tom) Izzo ever had this much talent? Miles Bridges is (very talented). The Jackson kid is better than you think. I don’t know their schedule. But I bet they don’t lose more than two Big Ten games.”
■ “They’re going to be a tough team to beat. They got so much experience last season. Those four freshmen last year were top 40 players in that class and they’re all back as sophomores. You just don’t get that in college basketball.”
■ “Michigan State, just because any time he has mature teams they are hard to handle. He does an incredible job period, but when he has mature teams in his system that do what he wants, watch out. Arizona’s that team that always has the talent but always falls a little bit short, a game or two short.”