Last season the Michigan State Spartans were just one win away from competing in their second straight NCAA Championship game, but lost 52-50 to Butler in the National Semis. The Spartans ended the year with a 28-9 record and were 14-4 in Big Ten action, earning them at least a share of the Big Ten Championship in two consecutive years. Head coach Tom Izzo not only wishes to bring home the Big Ten regular-season title, he wants to win the conference tournament for the first time in 10 years, but with a squad as talented as the one he possesses this season, winning the National Title is really all that matters after the success this school has had the last two seasons.
The Spartans lost guard Chris Allen and forward Raymar Morgan from last year’s squad, but with a gifted core returning, featuring seniors Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers, and a good freshmen class, the Spartans figure to be even more improved than they were last season. Michigan State opens the 2010 NCAA basketball season ranked second in the nation, and unless they fall victim to injuries, they should be primed for a No.1 seed and some additional wins in the postseason.
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Frontcourt: Junior Draymond Green started just three times for the Spartans last year, but after dropping 15 pounds this past offseason, Michigan State is planning on big things as Green steps into the starting lineup this season. Green put up almost 10 points, eight boards, and three assists a game last year. Fellow junior Delvon Roe returns to the starting lineup after putting up six points and five boards a game last year. Roe has struggled with knee problems the last two years, and if he is capable of getting healthy, he could be one of the more improved players on this squad. Sophomore Derrick Nix has also slimmed down from last year, and should be able to make more of an impact after posting just under eight minutes a game as a freshman. Nix should split time at center with sophomore Garrick Sherman, who made the starting lineup in the Spartans season opening win over Eastern Michigan. Also added to the mix is freshman Adreian Payne, who is a real threat on the offensive end, and should get a lot of floor time whether he ends up starting or coming off the bench.
Backcourt: Lucas and Summers are what really makes this team special. Lucas was the Big Ten Player of the Year as a sophomore, but struggled with an ankle injury that really slowed him down last season. When at full strength Lucas is among one of the top point guards in the nation, with his ability to do so much on offense. Summers is extremely athletic and is a solid finisher, but didn’t do well from outside most of last year, before heating up in the NCAA Tournament, and being named the Midwest Region Most Outstanding Player.
Junior Korie Lucious would start on most teams, but figures to be the Spartans leading option off the bench this year. Giving the team even more depth are junior Austin Thorton and freshman Keith Appling, and while they won’t log a ton of minutes with Lucas and Summers on the floor, they should be ready to step in and play well when needed.
Prediction – 1st Big Ten: As talented as Michigan State is this year, the Big Ten is packed with top notch teams, and winning the Big Ten will be a challenge. Still I believe with the talent this team has and one of the best coaches in the game, they are the team to beat this season. This is the best squad Izzo has had at Michigan State since he bought home the championship back in 2000.
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