Maintaining success has never been more difficult in college basketball. The combination of the transfer portal and the NBA Draft makes each offseason both eventful and potentially transformative for most programs.
Now that the smoke has mostly cleared following the 2021-22 season, we’ll go team-by-team in the Big Ten to assess which programs are set up for success, and who might take a step back.
Next up is Michigan State. The Spartans are coming off a 23-13 season overall including an 11-9 finish in the Big Ten. They have some key pieces back, but did MSU bring in anyone new who will be ready to contribute to a roster that currently has just 10 scholarship players?
- Gabe Brown (11.6 PPG),
- Marcus Bingham Jr. (9.3 PPG),
- Max Christie (9.3 PPG),
- Julius Marble II (6.4 PPG)
- Malik Hall, SF, (8.9 PPG),
- Tyson Walker, PG, (8.2 PPG),
- Joey Hauser, PF, (7.3 PPG),
- A.J. Hoggard, PG, (7.0 PPG),
- Jaden Akins, SG, (3.4 PPG),
- Mady Sissoko, C, (1.1 PPG),
- Pierre Brooks, SG, (0.9 PPG)
Freshmen (Rankings from 247Sports Composite)
- Jaxon Kohler, PF, (No. 54),
- Tre Holloman, PG, (No. 74),
- Carson Cooper, C, (NR)
RETURNING MINUTES: 54.1 percent (per barttorvik.com)
WHY IT WILL WORK
History says Izzo will figure it out, players will develop, toughness and defense never go out of style, and the Breslin Center will continue to be a tough place to play. The previous eight national champs prior to Kansas started two point guards, and MSU will likely do the same with Hoggard and Walker. Malik Hall has the talent to make a Keegan Murray like jump, and Joey Hauser will spread out defenses. Those four form a solid core to build around.
WHY IT WON’T
Izzo is playing with fire with only ten scholarship players on the roster as it stands right now, and six of the ten have either never played in college or have only seen very small roles to this point. The Spartans basically need everyone to develop and be ready to go, and that typically doesn’t happen at the high major level, especially with all three true freshmen ranked outside of the top-50. Michigan State projects to have very little depth, and they are completely unproven at the center position.
Tom Izzo surpassed Bob Knight last season for the most wins by a men’s basketball coach at a Big Ten school with 663. But is his reign of terror over the conference on the decline after eight Final Fours, ten Big Ten titles and a national championship?
Izzo is just 38-26 over the last two years overall, and just .500 (20-20) in league play. He is thought of by some as one of the last coaches who resembles the more authoritarian Knight style, and that’s an approach even Mike Woodson knows won’t work in today’s game. Add in the transfer portal and NIL, along with the fact that Izzo is 67, and it seems at least plausible that we’ve seen the end of dominant MSU under his guidance.
BIG TEN OUTLOOK: Middle of the pack / top half
MORE BIG TEN OUTLOOKS:
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