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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Led by, from left, Joshua Langford, Xavier Tillman and Cassius Winston, Michigan State opens the season No. 1 in the AP Top 25.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019 1:00 am

College notebook

Spartans are atop AP preseason poll

Staff, news services

There isn't much Michigan State has yet to accomplish under Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo, from Big Ten titles and Final Four trips to winning a national championship.

The Spartans can now add another milestone to the list: They are No. 1 in The Associated Press Top 25 men's college basketball preseason poll for the first time in program history.

The Spartans were the overwhelming choice with their veteran returnees led by star Cassius Winston. They topped 60 of 65 ballots in voting results released Monday, easily outdistancing No. 2 Kentucky and No. 3 Kansas.

Duke was fourth, followed by Louisville, Florida, Maryland, Gonzaga, North Carolina and Villanova.

Purdue was ranked 23rd.

Michigan State had been ranked No. 1 for 12 weeks in the AP poll before Monday. But none had come in the preseason poll, with the Spartans starting at No. 2 four times in the past decade.

“It's almost bizarre to me because I would've thought Magic's team was No. 1,” Izzo said.

The Magic Johnson-led bunch that beat Larry Bird and Indiana State in the 1979 NCAA title game started at No. 7.

The Spartans won 32 games last year and reached the Final Four before falling to Texas Tech. They return Winston with fellow starters Xavier Tillman and Aaron Henry, and they get back Joshua Langford, who missed much of last year with a foot injury.

“This is a program deal and it's the players in the program, and I'm really proud of them for that,” Izzo said. “Unfortunately, what you are at the beginning of the year doesn't help you at the end of the year, but I think it does say something about the program and what we've done over these years.”

McLaughlin All-Big Ten

Purdue's Ae'Rianna Harris and Karissa McLaughlin and Indiana's Ali Patberg were named to the Coaches Preseason All-Big Ten team. The coaches picked Maryland to finish first, followed by Michigan State, Indiana, Michigan and Purdue.

Cougars No. 6 in poll

Saint Francis football moved up one spot to No. 6 in the NAIA football coaches poll. Morningside remains at No. 1, and the Cougars' opponent Saturday, Siena Heights, moved up from 21 to 18.

Players of the week

Manchester's Donavan Henderson was named the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference's Offensive Player of the Week. He carried the ball 37 times for 188 yards and two touchdowns in a victory over Franklin. ... Indiana Tech senior Madeline MacDonald was named the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference Women's Volleyball Defender of the Week. ... Indiana Tech sophomore Marcus McClain was named the WHAC Men's Bowler of the Week. ... Saint Francis' Kendra Siefring was named Crossroads League Volleyball Attacker of the Week and teammate Maria Pelak was named Volleyball Setter of the Week. Siefring set a program record with 20 kills and just one error in 21 swings in a four-set win over Bethel. ... Huntington's Gabe Greenfield was named Men's Soccer Defensive Player of the Week. ... Grace's Gina Novotnoy was named Volleyball Defender of the Week. ... Grace's Bethany Blackwood was named Women's Soccer Defensive Player of the Week.