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Michigan State Northwestern Basketball

Michigan State guard Cassius Winston reacts after making a 3-point basket against Northwestern last season.

Last season: 30-5, 16-2 (first in Big Ten)

Who’s gone: Miles Bridges, Jaren Jackson, Tum Tum Nairn, Gavin Schilling, Ben Carter

Who’s back: Cassius Winston, 6-0, jr.; Nick Ward, 6-8, jr.; Joshua Langford, 6-5, jr.; Matt McQuaid, 6-4, sr.; Kenny Goins, 6-7, sr.; Xavier Tillman, 6-8, so.; Kyle Ahrens, 6-6, sr.

Who’s new: Marcus Bingham Jr., 6-11, fr.; Foster Loyer, 6-0, fr.; Aaron Henry, 6-6, fr.; Gabe Brown, 6-7, fr.; Thomas Kithier, 6-8, fr.; Braden Burke, 6-11, jr. (transfer from Robert Morris)

Overview: The Spartans lost two first-round NBA draft choices in Jackson and Bridges, but Winston, Ward and Langford should step into starring roles and there is plenty of other talent on the roster. Winston, in particular, could blossom this season as a floor general who is almost certain to lead the Big Ten in assists. McQuaid, Goins and Tillman have made significant contributions off the bench and Bingham and Loyer are top-100 recruits who should provide immediate help. This may not be a Final Four quality team but it should be good enough to give the Spartans another Big Ten title.

Coach Tom Izzo says: “I'm excited every year, but I guess a little more excited this year just because I've got what I think is a pretty good team. I think we've got something that we haven't had in the last couple years. We've got more experience, maybe not quite as much talent, losing the two lottery picks we lost … I think I’ve got three guys that have been through the wars, have started most of their careers. I think they give us a chance to be good on both ends of the court.’’

Don Doxsie's pick: First place

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