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November 1, 2013

Michigan State picked to win Big 10

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How far the Spartans or any other Big Ten team can go is another issue.

The conference produced three top 10 picks last year in Indiana's Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller Michigan's Trey Burke. But only one NCAA champion has come from the Big Ten since Michigan won it all in 1989 — Michigan State in 2000. Five times since that run by the Spartans a team from the conference has come up short in the title game, with Michigan falling to Louisville last year.

"College basketball's full of parity," Indiana coach Tom Crean said. "Look long-term winning of the league — and I've only been in the league six years. Look at the long-term winning of it. Look at the way people achieve in the non-conference. Look at the different people who have played in those games, and you've got to say it's a very strong league."

Michigan State has been to the Final Four six times since Izzo took over in 1995, and with Harris and center Adreian Payne back, the Spartans are eyeing another big run. Both are potential first-round picks who decided to return to school. And like Harris, Payne made the first team in the preseason vote. Rounding it out were Michigan's Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III, Ohio State's Aaron Craft and Penn State's Tim Frazier. Six players were selected because there was a tie.

Michigan has three starters back from a team that came within a few points of the NCAA championship. The Wolverines also have two big holes to fill, with National Player of the Year Burke and backcourt mate Tim Hardaway Jr. gone.

But with McGary back after coming on strong down the stretch and Robinson still in the mix, the Wolverines should be in contention for the conference championship.

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