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College basketball is across the nook. Check out the highest 10 groups within the nation in keeping with the USA TODAY Sports preseason coach ballot.
USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State’s Miles Bridges.(Photo: Al Goldis, AP)

Teams listed in projected order of end:

Michigan State

What to look at: Miles Bridges’ determination to return to East Lansing, slightly than leaping to the NBA, gave the Spartans nationwide title expectations. He averaged 16.Three factors and eight.Three rebounds as a freshman and will probably be among the many favorites for nationwide participant of the 12 months. Forward Jaren Jackson Jr. (6-11, 225) might win convention freshman of the 12 months and be one of many high picks within the 2018 NBA draft. Jackson joins a frontcourt that features Nick Ward (13.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg) and Gavin Schilling (6-9, 240), who missed final season with a knee harm. Senior Tum Tum Nairn Jr. will probably be a pacesetter for the Spartans, however he has struggled along with his offensive recreation. Still, the Spartans have depth within the backcourt with sophomore guards Cbadius Winston (6.7 ppg, 5.2 apg) and Joshua Langford (6.9 ppg, 2.Three rpg).

Bottom line: If Bridges and Jackson carry out as anticipated, the Spartans may very well be slicing down the online in San Antonio on April 2.

Purdue

What to look at: The Boilermakers will miss Caleb Swanigan, final season’s Big Ten participant of the 12 months. But there’s a variety of expertise remaining for the reigning regular-season Big Ten champions. Senior ahead Vincent Edwards (12.6 ppg, four.9 rpg, Three.2 apg) and senior middle Isaac Haas (12.6 ppg, 5.zero rpg) lead Purdue. Senior guard Dakota Mathias (9.7 ppg, Three.9 rpg, Three.Eight apg) hit 45.Three% of his three-pointers final season. Purdue has 5 newcomers, together with 7-Three, 245-pound middle Matt Haarms from the Netherlands.

Bottom line: They received’t go 27-Eight like they did final season, however the Boilermakers must be one of many high groups within the Big Ten and make the NCAA match.

Minnesota

What to look at: The Golden Gophers return three guards who averaged greater than 11 factors per recreation: sophomore Amir Coffey (12.2 ppg, Three.Eight rpg, Three.1 apg), senior Nate Mason (15.2 ppg, Three.6 rpg, 5.zero apg) and junior Dupree McBrayer (11.1 ppg, 2.7 apg). Senior middle Reggie Lynch (Eight.four ppg, 6.1 rpg) and junior ahead Jordan Murphy (11.Three ppg, Eight.Eight rpg) return within the frontcourt.

Bottom line: Minnesota might get a lift from senior ahead Davonte Fitzgerald (6-Eight, 220), who missed final season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, in addition to freshmen guards Isaiah Washington and Jamir Harris. The Gophers ought to end within the high three within the convention and make their second consecutive NCAA match look.

Northwestern

What to look at: Expectations are excessive in Evanston, Ill. The Wildcats return six of their high seven scorers from final season’s crew that secured this system’s first NCAA bid. Senior guard Bryant McIntosh (14.Eight ppg, 5.2 apg), senior guard/ahead Scottie Lindsey (14.1 ppg, Three.Eight rpg) and junior ahead Vic Law (12.Three ppg, 5.Eight rpg) are constant double-figure scorers. Welsh-Ryan Arena nonetheless is present process a $110 million renovation, so the Wildcats will play their residence video games at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill.

Bottom line: The Wildcats return sufficient expertise to succeed in the NCAA match for the second season in a row.

Michigan

What to look at: Point guard Jaaron Simmons (Ohio) and guard Charles Matthews, who sat out final 12 months after transferring from Kentucky, ought to make instant impacts. Simmons, a graduate switch from Ohio, averaged 15.9 factors and 6.5 badists final season. Matthews sat out after transferring from Kentucky. Junior ahead Moritz Wagner (12.1 ppg, four.2 rpg) is poised to be an all-conference participant after returning for the Wolverines.

Bottom line: The Wolverines lose 39.5 factors per recreation with the departure of three starters from final 12 months’s crew, which received the Big Ten match and reached the Sweet 16. The Wolverines are going to want greater contributions from senior guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (9.1 ppg, 2.Eight rpg, 2.zero apg), senior guard/ahead Duncan Robinson (7.7 ppg, 1.7 rpg) and sophomore guard Xavier Simpson (1.6 ppg, zero.6 rpg).

Maryland

What to look at: The Terrapins will depend on proficient sophomores in ahead Justin Jackson and guards Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter. Jackson withdrew from the NBA draft and may very well be a first-round decide in 2018. He averaged 10.5 ppg and 6.zero rpg final season. Cowan (10.Three ppg, Three.9 rpg, Three.7 apg) and Huerter (9.Three ppg, four.9 rpg, 2.7 apg) kind one of many Big Ten’s greatest backcourts. Center Sean Obi (6-9, 255), a graduate switch from Duke, might badist a Maryland frontcourt that struggled final season.

Bottom line: With a complete of 9 freshmen and sophomores, higher days are forward for the Terrapins. They lose Melo Trimble (16.Eight ppg) however have sufficient expertise to make it again to the NCAA match.

Wisconsin

What to look at: Junior ahead Ethan Happ (14.zero ppg, 9.zero rpg, 2.Eight apg) is the one returning starter and solely returning participant who averaged greater than six factors a recreation. Happ could be the largest challenger to MSU’s Bridges within the race for convention participant of the 12 months. The solely different returning participant who averaged greater than 4 factors a recreation is sophomore guard D’Mitrik Trice (5.6 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.7 apg).

Bottom line: Their expertise is restricted, however the Badgers ought to lengthen their streak of NCAA match appearances to 20.

Iowa

What to look at: The Hawkeyes led the Big Ten in scoring final season (80.5 ppg) however they received’t be the identical crew with out Peter Jok (19.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg). They return sophomore ahead Tyler Cook (12.Three ppg, 5.Three rpg) and sophomore guard Jordan Bohannon (10.9 ppg, 5.1 apg), who shot 41.6% from three-point vary final season. Freshmen Jack Nunge (6-11, 220) and Luka Garza (6-11, 237) ought to contribute instantly.

Bottom line: Iowa needs to be higher defensively, after rating 299th final season in scoring protection (78.1 ppg). Even with enchancment in that space, it can nonetheless end someplace in the course of the convention.

Ohio State

What to look at: The Buckeyes employed Chris Holtmann from Butler after parting methods with longtime coach Thad Matta. Holtmann led Butler to 3 NCAA match appearances and was named 2017 Big East Coach of the Year. Top returning gamers are senior ahead Jae’Sean Tate (14.Three ppg, 6.four rpg, 2.zero apg), senior guard Kam Williams (9.four ppg, 2.1 rpg) and junior ahead Keita Bates-Diop (9.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg). Bates-Diop performed simply 9 video games due to a stress fracture in his left leg.

Bottom line: The Buckeyes are skinny at level guard, past junior guard C.J. Jackson (5.6 ppg, 2.9 apg). There could be too many holes to fill to succeed in the NCAA match.

Illinois

What to look at: Brad Underwood left Oklahoma State after one season to take over as coach of the Illini. Underwood additionally coached at Stephen F. Austin in 2013-16 and has gone 109-27 (80.1%) over 4 seasons. He inherits a crew that misplaced 4 of its high 5 scorers. Junior forwards Leron Black (Eight.1 ppg, 6.Three rpg) and Michael Finke (6.9 ppg, four.2 rpg) return. Senior guard Mark Alstork, a graduate switch, was an All-Horizon League participant at Wright State, and will find yourself being the crew’s high scorer. He averaged 19 factors final season and shot 38.7% from three-point vary (70-for-181).

Bottom line: The rebuild may very well be a gradual one, however a few freshman guards — Mark Smith of Edwardsville (Ill.) and Trent Frazier of Wellington (Fla.) — ought to present an instantaneous spark. Smith was Illinois’ Mr. Basketball (21.9 ppg, Eight.2 rpg, Eight.four badists per recreation) and opted to remain residence over gives from Michigan State, Ohio State and Missouri, amongst others.

Penn State

What to look at: All 5 starters return, led by sophomore guard Tony Carr (13.2 ppg, four.Eight rpg, four.2 apg) and sophomore forwards Lamar Stevens (12.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and Mike Watkins (9.7 ppg, Eight.1 rpg, 2.7 blocks per recreation). Penn State coach Patrick Chambers has stated the Nittany Lions must be higher defensively. They gave up 72.7 factors per recreation final season and had the worst rebounding margin within the convention (minus-Three.four).

Bottom line: The returning starters will badist, but it surely’s exhausting to think about the Nittany Lions enhancing sufficient to earn a match berth.

Indiana

What to look at: Archie Miller takes over as coach of the Hoosiers after six seasons at Dayton. He went 139-63 (.688) and guided the Flyers to the NCAA match every of the final 4 seasons. Senior ahead Collin Hartman (6-7, 220 kilos) missed final season with a knee harm. He averaged 5.zero ppg and three.1 rpg in 2015-16. The backcourt returns senior guards Robert Johnson (12.Eight ppg, four.four rpg) and Josh Newkirk (9.zero ppg, Three.1 rpg).

Bottom line: Miller’s Dayton squad ranked 46th final season in scoring protection, permitting 66.four factors per recreation. He’s inheriting a crew that ranked 207th in scoring protection (73.Three ppg). The Hoosiers will probably be higher defensively, however they received’t be adequate to complete within the high half of the convention.

Nebraska

What to look at: Junior ahead Isaac Copeland (Georgetown) and junior guard James Palmer Jr. (Miami) ought to badist straight away after transferring. Junior guard Glynn Watson Jr. (13.zero ppg, Three.zero rpg, 2.6 apg) must be the crew’s greatest participant. Freshman guard Thomas Allen, who initially signed with North Carolina State, hit 115 of 239 three-pointers final season at Brewster Academy in New England. He’ll be wanted on a crew that ranked 303rd amongst NCAA Division I faculties in three-point taking pictures share (32.zero).

Rutgers

What to look at: Rutgers has a stable backcourt tandem in junior Corey Sanders (12.Eight ppg, Three.2 rpg, Three.2 apg) and senior Mike Williams (Eight.four ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.2 apg). Senior ahead Deshawn Freeman (11.1 ppg, 7.Eight rpg) is the one confirmed frontcourt participant.

Bottom line: The Scarlet Knights ranked final within the convention in a number of clbades final season, together with scoring offense (65.5), free-throw share (.623), field-goal share (.411) and three-point field-goal share (.303). Even with enchancment, they’ll end towards the underside of the convention.

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