#1 Michigan State Men's Basketball 2019-2020 Preview

Michigan State Spartans
2019-2020 Overall Rank: #1
Conference Rank: #1 Big Ten
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Michigan State hasn’t missed an NCAA Tournament since 1997, and they don’t appear to be in any danger of doing so this season. The Spartans will be without three starters from their Final Four team last year but reigning Big Ten Player of the Year Cassius Winston is back. A large portion of Michigan State’s roster will come into this season having Final Four experience. There’s a nice balance of youth as well with five intriguing sophomores and three talented freshmen.
2018-19 Record: 32-7, 16-4
2018-19 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Tom Izzo
Coach Record: 606-232 at Michigan State, 606-232 overall
Key Departed Players:
Nick Ward, Center, 12.9 ppg
Matt McQuaid, Guard, 9.8 ppg
Kenny Goins, Forward, 7.9 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Cassius Winston, Senior, Guard, 18.8 ppg
Joshua Langford, Senior, Guard, 15.0 ppg

Xavier Tillman, Junior, Forward, 10.0 ppg
Aaron Henry, Sophomore, Forward, 6.1 ppg
Kyle Ahrens, Senior, Forward, 4.7 ppg

Gabe Brown, Sophomore, Forward, 2.3 ppg
Thomas Kithier, Sophomore, Forward, 1.6 ppg
Foster Loyer, Sophomore, Guard, 1.6 ppg
Marcus Bingham, Sophomore, Forward, 1.0 ppg
Key New Players:
Malik Hall, Freshman, Forward
Julius Marble, Freshman, Forward
Rocket Watts, Freshman, Guard
Michigan State became the preseason favorites when Cassius Winston elected to return to school for his senior season. Winston was a Second Team All-American and Big Ten Player of the Year as a junior. He averaged 18.8 points, 7.5 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game last season. As a senior, Winston is a strong candidate to win the Naismith Player of the Year. The return of Joshua Langford will also be huge for Michigan State, though that return has been delayed. Tom Izzo announced that Langford suffered a setback in the same foot injury that limited him to 13 games last season, and he is out indefinitely to start this year. Xavier Tillman and Aaron Henry are both primed for breakout seasons in 2019-20. Tillman was named Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year after averaging 10.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.7 blocks per game. With Nick Ward gone, Tillman will have the paint to himself and could put up big numbers as a junior. Henry had a solid freshman campaign, averaging 6.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists. Both Tillman and Henry have become NBA prospects and should shine in bigger roles next to Winston this season. Kyle Ahrens, Gabe Brown, Thomas Kithier, Foster Loyer and Marcus Bingham are all back after being role players last season. Brown, Loyer and Bingham were all four-star recruits that were forced into limited roles as freshmen. Now with three starters gone from last year, they will see an uptick in minutes and production as sophomores. This year’s recruiting class features two four-star recruits as well. Rocket Watts and Malik Hall are both four-star, top-100 prospects that could be in a similar situation as last year’s freshmen. Watts is a 6-foot-2 combo guard that will likely use this season to learn from Winston before taking over for him next year. Hall is a 6-foot-7 forward on a crowded roster who could play a similar role as Henry did last year. This is a deep and experienced Michigan State team, which is what Tom Izzo typically has. Langford’s injury could set them back, but the depth of the Spartans will help until he hopefully returns this year. Michigan State is yet again a Final Four contender in 2019-20.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 69.6 (259th in nation, 10th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 58.3 (2, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.8 (155, 7)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.7 (16, 4)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.8 (171, 5)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.2 (192, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.1 (194, 8)
Rebound Margin: 0.9 (155, 9)
Assists Per Game: 13.8 (138, 7)
Turnovers Per Game: 9.1 (2, 1)
Madness 2020 NBA Draft Rankings:
#41 Cassius Winston
#55 Josh Langford
Madness 2019 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#35 Rocket Watts Jr
#50 Malik Hall