Sept. 27, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Friday, Sept. 27 marks the official start of practice for the 2013-14 men's basketball season. And as the Spartans take the court for their first practice on Friday, they do so being surrounded by lofty expectations. The expectations exist for the team, as the Spartans are a consensus Top-4 pick, including being ranked No. 1 by Lindy's Sports College Basketball and Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, and the individual players, with plenty of preseason accolades being heaped on the Spartans.
Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook is known by coaches, NBA scouts, broadcasters, print media and long-time fans as the "bible" of college basketball. In addition, to ranking the Spartans No. 1, Blue Ribbon placed senior Adreian Payne on the cover of its publication as a first-team All-American. Sophomore Gary Harris was tabbed a fourth-team All-American by Blue Ribbon. Payne is the preseason Player of the Year and Payne and Harris are first-team All-Conference.
Lindy's Sports College Basketball also slots MSU at the top of its preseason poll. Lindy's does not select preseason All-Americans, but does rank the players by position. Four Spartans were ranked among the best at their position in the nation, with Payne ranked as the No. 1 center, Harris ranked as the No. 3 shooting guard, Keith Appling ranked as the No. 6 point guard, and Branden Dawson ranked as the No. 14 small forward. Lindy's also ranks the position units, slotting the backcourt No. 3 in the nation, and the frontcourt at No. 5 in the nation. At the conference level, MSU is the preseason conference favorite, while Appling, Harris and Payne are first-team All-Big Ten, and Dawson is a third-team honoree. Payne was named Top Rebounder in the Big Ten, while Harris was tabbed Most Versatile and Dawson is Most Entertaining.
USA Today Sports ranks Michigan State at No. 2, and has Harris as a second-team All-American, and Payne as an honorable mention All-American (USA Today names just two All-America teams). Harris and Payne are both on the All-Big Ten first team while Appling is a second-team honoree. USA Today also selected Harris as the Preseason Player of the Year.
The Sporting News ranks MSU No. 2 in its preseason poll. Individually, Harris is a second-team All-American.
Athlon Sports College Basketball ranks MSU No. 4 to enter the season, while picking Harris as a second-team All-American and Payne as a third-team selection. Harris and Payne are both on the preseason All-Big Ten first team, while Appling is on the second team and Dawson on the third team. In addition, Athlon ranks Appling the No. 5 floor leader in the nation, Harris the No. 5 shooter, and Payne the nation's No. 2 inside-outside player.
The honors aren't restricted to the preseason magazines. ESPN.com's Jeff Goodman named Harris a first-team All-American. CBSSports.com selected Harris as a second-team All-American and Payne as a third-team honoree.
The public's first chance to watch the Spartans in action will be at Midnight Madness on Friday, Oct. 18 at Breslin Center. MSU's first exhibition game will Tuesday, Oct. 29 vs. Grand Valley State (7 p.m.), while the regular-season opener will be Friday, Nov. 8 vs. McNeese State (7 p.m.).