January 25, 2021

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Big 10 Basketball Preview: Michigan State Spartans

Big 10 Basketball Preview: Michigan State Spartans

We go East to East Lansing, MI to preview the Michigan State Spartans:

Michigan State Spartans

2019-2020 overall record: 22-9

2019-2020 Big 10 record:14-6

2019-2020 Big 10 Ranking: 1st (tie)

2019-2020 Season Recap

Another season, another Big 10 season title (shared). At the start of the season, Michigan State was the preseason #1 team in the country, so obviously anything that was less than number 1 was not going to meet their expectations. Winning a 3rd consecutive Big 10 title and ranking 9th in the country is a very good consolation prize though. They had a very good chance to win the Big 10 tournament and they were my pick to win the title for a 2nd consecutive year. With that result, they most likely would have ended up as a 2 seed in March Madness and had a great chance to get to the Final 4.

2020-2021 Outlook

Many teams are not usually looking at a shot at another Big 10 championship and potential deep tournament run after losing their 2 best players, but Michigan State is not most teams. Especially since they are led by one of the premier coaches in the country, Tom Izzo, the Spartans will be right in the mix to earn a 4th straight Big 10 regular season title. Let’s start with the obvious, it will be tough losing Cassius Winston and Xavier Tillman. Cassius Winston was one of the best point guards in the country and he was the heart, soul and leader of the Spartans so he will be greatly missed. Talent wise, Xavier Tillman moving onto the NBA, probably hurts the Spartans more but that is because they don’t have as good a replacement as they do for Winston. Taking over at the guard spots for Winston will be rising sophomore Rocket Watts, and returning senior Josh Langford. Watts had a very impressive Freshman year averaging 9 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game. He has massive expectations and potential to take the next step and be a superstar for this squad. Langford returns from a foot injury that has kept him out for over a year. The Spartans certainly hope he can return to his form from 2018 where he averaged 15 PPG but he will be a big question mark as the season begins. In the front court MSU welcomes Marquette transfer Joey Hauser who had to sit out a year after averaging 9.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 2.4 APG for the Golden Eagles. Forward Aaron Henry looks to be another good scoring option for this team as well after averaging 10 PPG last season. Overall, I think MSU will take care of business like they always do. They for sure have some question marks and they will have to figure out how to play without Winston and Tillman. I do think however, that the Spartans will be a top 25 team all year, a top 4 team in the Big 10 and at least a second weekend team in March. MSU is a decent value to repeatas Big 10 champs at +360 but I would be careful because it might be tough for the Spartans to jump Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. 

2020-2021 Projected Starting Lineup

G: Rocket Watts

G: Josh Langford

F: Aaron Henry

F: Joey Hauser

C: Marcus Bingham Jr

2020/2021 Projected Big 10 ranking: 4th

2020/2021 Projected Postseason Placement – 4 seed in NCAA tournament