#6 Michigan State Men's Basketball 2020-2021 Preview

Michigan State Spartans
2020-2021 Overall Rank: #6
Conference Rank: #1 Big Ten
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Like everybody in the Big Ten, Michigan State faced a brutal schedule in 2019-2020. Outside of Big Ten play, the Spartans played a few of their usual tough non-conference games. The result was a bit of a disappointing 22-9 overall record, but few teams in the country were as prepared for the NCAA Tournament as Coach Tom Izzo’s team. Of course they never got the opportunity to prove that they were capable of making a Final Four run.
2019-20 Record: 22-9, 14-6
Coach: Tom Izzo
Coach Record: 628-241 at Michigan State, 628-241 overall
Key Departed Players:
Cassius Winston, Guard, 18.6 ppg
Xavier Tillman Sr, Forward, 13.7 ppg
Kyle Ahrens, Guard/Forward, 3.6 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Aaron Henry, Junior, Forward, 10.0 ppg
Rocket Watts, Sophomore, Guard, 9.0 ppg
Gabe Brown, Junior, Forward, 6.8 ppg
Malik Hall, Sophomore, Forward, 4.6 ppg
Marcus Bingham Jr, Junior, Forward, 3.5 ppg
Thomas Kithier, Junior, Forward, 3.1 ppg
Foster Loyer, Junior, Guard, 2.9 ppg
Julius Marble II, Sophomore, Forward, 1.7 ppg
Jack Hoiberg, Junior, Guard, 1.4 ppg
Joshua Langford, Senior, Guard, dnp last season
Key New Players:
Joey Hauser, Junior, Forward, Transfer from Marquette
A.J. Hoggard, Freshman, Guard
Mady Sissoko, Freshman, Center
Davis Smith, Freshman, Guard
The top two scorers are gone, but just about everybody else is back. And that includes Joshua Langford, who missed the last season and a half with injuries. In 13 games in 2018-2019, Langford averaged 15.0 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists. He is also a great defender and the Spartans will be a very different team with Langford back in action. Sophomore Rocket Watts had a decent freshman season, averaging 9.0 points per game. However, he was quite inconsistent, especially when it came to shooting the ball. A year of experience should help with that. Aaron Henry and Gabe Brown figure to start again at small forward and power forward, respectively. Both are good shooters and Henry is a very versatile forward who averaged 10.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists. Speaking of versatility, Marquette transfer Joey Hauser is a similar player. He averaged 9.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists two years ago with the Golden Eagles. Marcus Bingham took another step forward during his sophomore season, but he will be asked to do more as an upperclassman in order to help replace the lost production of Xavier Tillman, especially on the defensive end of the floor. With Mady Sissoko and A.J. Hoggard capable of playing quality minutes as freshmen, Coach Izzo has a very deep team. They are talented too and the Spartans will be looking to win at least a share of the Big Ten title for the fourth straight season.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 75.9 (51st in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 64.7 (51, 6)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.1 (52, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 37.9 (4, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.7 (127, 8)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.8 (99, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 75.0 (50, 3)
Rebound Margin: 7.5 (12, 2)
Assists Per Game: 17.7 (2, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.5 (120, 12)
Madness 2021 NBA Draft Rankings:
#41 Aaron Henry
Madness 2020 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#43 Mady Sissoko
#67 A.J. Hoggard