Michigan State Men's Basketball 2013 NCAA Tournament Capsule

Michigan State Spartans
Big Ten (25-8, 13-5)

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The Spartans have been down this road before. The offense can be stagnant at times and turnovers are usually a big problem. But Michigan State can make up for it with tough defense and rebounding. Perhaps the most important thing of all is that Coach Tom Izzo always has his team playing their best basketball in March. That may not lead to a national title, but this is a team that can make a nice little run in the NCAA Tournament.

Big Wins: 11/13 vs Kansas (67-64), 1/19 Ohio State (59-56), 2/12 Michigan (75-52)
Bad Losses: 12/31 at Minnesota (63-76), 2/24 at Ohio State (60-68), 3/3 at Michigan (57-58)
Coach: Tom Izzo (18 seasons at Michigan State)

Why They Can Surprise:
If the offense is clicking and Keith Appling is keeping the turnovers down, the Spartans can win any game. Appling and freshman Gary Harris are the top two scorers on the squad, but the play of the frontcourt has been promising. Branden Dawson is more of a slashing guard than a forward, yet he has spent much of the year starting beside center Derrick Nix. Dawson, a 6-6 sophomore, is an amazing athlete who has the toughness and athleticism to play anywhere Coach Izzo needs him. His ability to block shots and help keep the Spartans among the best rebounding teams in the nation has been huge for Michigan State. Nix is the big body in the paint and has finally emerged as a player with the conditioning to play 25 to 30 minutes per game effectively. Nix is not flashy, but he will get the job done on the glass even when his offense is inconsistent. Adreian Payne has stepped up his game this year as well, averaging 10.4 points and 7.5 rebounds. Payne is also a lanky shot blocker and capable of putting together some great games.

Why They Can Disappoint:
The Spartans can, and have, started Nix and Payne together. However, that leaves absolutely no depth in the frontcourt. Payne has embraced coming in off of the bench and it has not slowed him down. The overall lack of quality depth could become an issue. Coach Izzo usually runs a seven man rotation with surprise freshman Denzel Valentine joining the starting five and sophomore point guard Travis Trice joining Payne on the bench. That is a good seven man team right there and Trice has stepped up when Appling has gotten into foul trouble throughout the season, but Michigan State can struggle against teams that want to bang in the paint. If Nix and Payne are spending too much time on the bench, there is not much size available to come in and make a defensive impact.

Probable Starters:
Keith Appling, Junior, Guard, 13.6 ppg, 3.5 apg
Gary Harris, Freshman, Guard, 12.9 ppg, 1.3 apg
Denzel Valentine, Freshman, Guard, 5.1 ppg, 2.4 apg, 5.1 rpg
Branden Dawson, Sophomore, Guard, 9.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg
Derrick Nix, Senior, Center, 9.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg

Key Roleplayers:
Adreian Payne, Junior, Center, 10.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg
Travis Trice, Sophomore, Guard, 4.8 ppg, 2.0 apg

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 68.9 (142nd in nation, 7th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 59.3 (28, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.4 (41, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.2 (31, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.0 (292, 11)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.4 (146, 4)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.4 (105, 4)
Rebound Margin: 6.8 (15, 3)
Assists Per Game: 13.5 (123, 7)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.5 (190, 11)

Last Five Postseason Appearances:
2012    NCAA    Round of 64 win over Long Island
2012    NCAA    Round of 32 win over Saint Louis
2012    NCAA    Regional Semifinal loss to Louisville
2011    NCAA    Round of 64 loss to UCLA
2010    NCAA    Round of 64 win over New Mexico State
2010    NCAA    Round of 32 win over Maryland
2010    NCAA    Regional Semifinal win over Northern Iowa
2010    NCAA    Regional Final win over Tennessee
2010    NCAA    National Semifinal loss to Butler
2009    NCAA    Round of 64 win over Robert Morris
2009    NCAA    Round of 32 win over USC
2009    NCAA    Regional Semifinal win over Kansas
2009    NCAA    Regional Final win over Louisville
2009    NCAA    National Semifinal win over Connecticut
2009    NCAA    National Final loss to North Carolina
2008    NCAA    Round of 64 win over Temple
2008    NCAA    Round of 32 win over Pittsburgh
2008    NCAA    Regional Semifinal loss to Memphis

*all team stats through 3/10


See All Men’s Basketball Postseason Capsules