With the USA Today Coaches Poll coming out Wednesday afternoon, teams had expectations put upon them. Though it counts for nothing, it is the first ranking fans get to see and gauge where their team stands, according to coaches. So where a team fall in the polls, determines the amount of success that team is expected to have. The key word being expected. Michigan State basketball comes in at 14 in this first poll. Now, is time to assess is this ranking too high, too low, or just right?
Michigan State basketball is no stranger to expectations. With unprecedented success during Izzo’s tenure, people expect a Final Four every single year. The recent polls shouldn’t deter this line of thinking. Placed at number 14 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, Michigan State fans will see this number and expect yet another great season from the Spartans. Is this ranking fair though? I believe that at the end of the season Michigan State basketball will live up to that ranking. The start of the season could bring a couple of difficulties. For one, the schedule is grueling. With back to back games against Connecticut and Kansas, there is a good chance the Spartans lose one or both of those games. The game against Kansas provides a unique challenge. The Spartans will be traveling back from Germany, so it will be hard to immediately gear up and get ready to take on an elite opponent. The loss of
Draymond Green will also be a major adjustment for the Spartans. They counted on Green for so much, rebounding, scoring, vision, and most importantly leadership. The Spartans will need to figure out who their leader is that motivates the team and is the coach on the court. Until, the Spartans figure this out they may struggle. Even with these early struggles, I fully expect the Spartans to get stronger as the season goes on. The Spartans always seem to hit their stride at the right time. That’s why they are usually so successful in March. With a young team, experience will work wonders. Freshman Gary Harris will only get better as the year goes on and he gets acclimated to the college game. He is full of potential and come the end of the year, he should be performing his best. Eventually, the Spartans will find their new leader. Once they find this player and the younger players mature the Spartans should hit the ground running. I firmly believe that is when they can live up to their number 14 ranking. I don’t believe they have elite talent, but top 15 talent? Absolutely.
Seeing the recent USA Today Coaches Poll, fans will expect a lot out of the number 14 ranked Spartans immediately. This may be unfair. Losing their leader and having a young team, the Spartans may struggle out of the gate. That being said, there’s no reason the Spartans can’t justify that number 14 ranking by seasons end. With a talented team and one of the best coaches in the nation, fans should expect Michigan State basketball to be able to live up to the expectations.