Jon Rothstein released his preseason Big Ten basketball power rankings and AJ Hoggard was not a fan of Purdue at No. 1.
It’s the middle of July and we are in the summer sports dead period. College football recruiting is on hold, the professional sports leagues are all off except baseball, and there’s just not a whole lot going on. This happens every year and the national sports media tends to use this time to churn out future prediction lists. Who is going to do what this upcoming season?
That is nothing new. These water cooler topic-type discussions are made to muster up some engagement on social media and keep the sports world active during this slow time. One major college basketball insider released his Big Ten basketball power rankings on Monday and it caught the attention of our own AJ Hoggard.
CBS basketball insider Jon Rothstein released his preseason power rankings today. These rankings listed our Spartans at No. 2 behind the Purdue Boilermakers with Zach Edey returning. Even though Michigan State is widely considered to be a preseason top-five team, Purdue is returning the bulk of its roster from last year that went 29-6 and won the Big Ten Tournament en route to a 1-seed in the NCAA tournament (nevermind what happened in that tourney once they got there).
AJ Hoggard did not agree with Rothstein’s ranking, however. He, in fact, summed it up with a one-word comment on his Instagram post regarding the rankings. That word: “Bet.”
— MichSt Country (@CountryMichSt) July 17, 2023
The Spartans coming in at No. 2 when returning 82.8% of its scoring from last year (per Rothstein) and boasting the No. 3 overall incoming recruiting class is interesting and semi-surprising but not a super hot take. Purdue is also returning 88.3% of its scoring from last year per Rothstein. Yes, Edey returning is a huge part of that. The reigning Naismith Player of the Year winner averaged 22.3 points per game last year along with 12.9 rebounds.
As a Spartan fan, I have to appreciate AJ seemingly taking all these rankings personally. It’s that Spartan Dawg mentality to want to prove all these “experts” wrong. I love him using this as fuel.
It’s also great to see that even though the 2023-24 Spartan team is earning a lot of praise nationally, they aren’t sitting back and expecting anything to be handed to them. Tom Izzo has always tried to balance pumping his players up but not letting them get too overconfident. All the praise from the national media this offseason is exciting sure, but seeing pieces where we aren’t even the top Big Ten team to me will help keep the team focusing on what’s upcoming.
AJ has always had that “dawg” in him. He is never complacent and strives to improve constantly. Seeing this kind of mindset early in July just shows how hungry he is to win. Having him and Tyson Walker back this year to lead our backcourt will give us that much-needed grit and toughness for the season. The disrespected feeling will certainly help as well.
The Spartans open up the basketball season in November. Judging by the buzz coming out of East Lansing, they are locked in and are ready to accomplish big goals. I, for one, cannot wait to see what this season has in store for us.
Shout out to AJ for being an absolute beast. I can’t wait to see you try to prove everyone wrong about MSU this year.
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