Now that the 2009-10 season is in the books it is time to start looking ahead to what might happen when the NBA Tips and other predictions start again in November of this year.

Duke head off for their summer vacation as the team to dethrone, and there are going to be plenty of challengers from the upper class as well as the mid-majors, who came so close to pulling off a shock NCAA Tournament win with the Butler Bulldogs.

There are plenty of star players leaving college for the NBA but one of the luckiest teams in terms of returning players seems likely to be the Michigan State Spartans, who fell victim to those Bulldogs in the semi-finals.

The Spartans will return nine of their 10-man rotation from a season that ended 28-9, and with Purdue and Ohio State likely to be a little weakened from 2009-10, they should be favourites to win the Big Ten title.

The biggest boosts came last week when Durrell Summers and, more surprisingly, Kalin Lucas both confirmed that they would return for their senior season, one in which they hope to go a game better than the year just completed and make it to the Championship game.

Summers averaged 19 points during the tournament but he admitted: “I’ve got dreams of playing in the NBA, but I would rather win a national championship and graduate first. I want to accomplish all those dreams instead of just one.”

Lucas failed to make it to the end of the season, rupturing his Achilles tendon in March. He has already had surgery to correct the injury and can now look ahead to his rehab as he aims for a third successive All-Big Ten selection. Something Basketball betting pundits believe he can achieve.

The Spartans started last season as pre-season No 2 in the polls, and they could well end up one better than that this time given the strength of their returnees and a strong recruiting class put together by coach Tom Izzo.

Raymar Morgan, the only absentee from last season’s team, will of course be a loss and there are worries about Delvon Roe’s knee (he has also had surgery), but recruits Adreian Payne and Keith Appling give the Spartans two players who could have an impact straight away and should certainly be part of an extremely strong line-up.

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