The last time Michigan State won a national championship was the 2000 season…in Indianapolis.
Nearly a decade later, the Final Four returns to Indianapolis and the Spartans are hoping for a case of dèjà vu.
Last season the Spartans almost fulfilled a dream season but fell just short of winning a national championship in Detroit. Unfortunately for MSU, the North Carolina team they faced was truly the better team.
Now the Spartans are a much different team from a year ago.
State comes into the season with a #2 national ranking and is favored to be Big-10 champions for the second year in a row. Center Goran Suton and point guard Travis Walton may have both graduated, but new players are ready to step into their roles.
The Spartans will likely start three guards with Kalin Lucas, Chris Allen, and Durrell Summers. Forwards Raymar Morgan and Delvon Roe will likely complete the starting lineup.
- Lucas will be the team leader at the point guard position and is emerging as one of the top floor generals in the nation.
- Morgan is the only senior in this starting lineup and will be depended on heavily for points in the paint.
- Allen is the sharpshooter of this squad, providing a dangerous outside threat.
- Summers will use his explosiveness to drive at the basket and also can spot up and shoot from outside.
- Sophomore Delvon Roe will be given the oppurtunity to show why he was recruited so heavily as an extremely athletic forward.
Off of the bench, sophomore Korie Lucious will be a sparkplug with his lightning quickness and high energy play. Sophomore Draymond Green is continuing to get himself in better physical shape, making himself an even more dangerous player off of the bench.
Freshman centers Garrick Sherman and Derrick Nix will see a lot of playing time, to help prepare them for tournament time when MSU will need a post presence off of the bench.
The Spartans will get a rematch against North Carolina this season and will also face an always tough Gonzaga team early in the year.
Michigan State’s toughest non-conference matchup however, at least based on preseason projections, will be against #3 Texas. The Spartans have had the Longhorns’ number the last three seasons. Similarly, top ranked Kansas looks like they could go wire-to-wire this season, but the Spartans beat the Jayhawks twice last season.
My season prediction: Michigan State has a lean and athletic squad this year that will be one of the more exciting teams in the country. Size in the frontcourt is a weakness for the Spartans, but that didn’t stop them from reaching the Final Four last season. The Spartans will edge out Purdue for a Big-10 Chamionship and will be a Final Four team.
* – Tom Izzo photo credit: AllBigTen.com