#3 Michigan State Men's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview

Michigan State Spartans

2013-2014 Overall Rank: #3
Conference Rank:  #1 Big Ten

Michigan State Team Page#3 Michigan State Men's Basketball 2013-2014 PreviewBuy Michigan State Basketball Tickets

One year after Indiana was decidedly back to being a legitimate basketball power house, it looks like Michigan State will be vying for basketball glory in the Midwest.  Tom Izzo has always put great teams on the floor, but this particular year he has the pieces in place to make a serious run at a national title.  The Big Ten schedule is never easy – this year will be no different – but the Spartans appear to be the cream of the crop in a conference loaded with talented teams.

2012-2013 record:  27-9, 13-5
2012-2013 postseason:  NCAA
Coach:  Tom Izzo
Coach Record:  439-178 at Michigan State, 439-178 overall

Who’s Out:
Rarely does a team with this much talent return the same amount of talent the following season.  Almost the entire roster returns this coming season to make a serious title run.  The one player the Spartans will miss is Derrick Nix.  Nix was a vital piece to last season’s team in the low post.  He averaged just under 10 points per game and was the team’s second leading rebounder last season.  He was a reliable forward with the ability to score and eat up rebounds.  He was not as dominant of a defender as his counterpart Adreian Payne, but he did his job admirably last season.  He will be missed, but the Spartans have enough talent to overcome his departure.

Who’s In:
With basically the entire roster coming back, Tom Izzo did not have many slots to fill on his roster.  Their two new recruits are Gavin Schilling, a post player from Las Vegas, and Alvin Ellis, a former Minnesota signee, who will add depth to the back court.  Neither stands to play very much this season, but they will certainly learn a lot from a veteran roster.  Matt Costello is projected to be a starter in the middle for the Spartans after averaging just 6.1 minutes per game last season.  He needs to improve his all-around game, but he can add to the rebounding and defensive potency this team has.

Who to Watch:
Keith Appling is the spoon that stirs the pot for Izzo’s Spartans.  Appling was a prized recruit four years ago, and he has not disappointed.  He is a scoring point guard that looks for offense first.  He was the team’s leading scorer last season while adding 3.3 assists per game.  His basketball intelligence will help this team immensely as it attempts to reach national championship aspirations.  A point guard’s best friend is surrounding talent.  Appling has that.  He should have a monster season in the Big Ten.  Also, two-guard Gary Harris is poised for a fantastic season after winning Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2013.

Final Projection:
This is one of Izzo’s best teams since his national championship team in 2000.  He has an elite point guard, a star in the making in Harris, some beef down low, and depth that most other Division I teams would envy.  There are legitimately four players that could average mid-double digit totals in scoring this season.  The Spartans are predicated on defense – they are routinely among the best in the conference and the country at preventing teams from scoring.  It is their defense that will lead them to championship heights.  The Big Ten has teams that can score a lot.  With the ability to shut opponents down, Izzo and Michigan State seek their ninth Final Four appearance in 2013-2014.

Projected Postseason Tournament:  NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Keith Appling, Senior, Guard, 13.4 points per game
Gary Harris, Sophomore, Guard, 12.9 points per game
Brandon Dawson, Junior, Forward, 8.9 points per game
Adreian Payne, Senior, Forward, 10.5 points per game
Matt Costello, Sophomore, Center, 1.5 points per game

By the numbers:
Scoring Offense: 68.0 (156th in nation, 7th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 59.1 (25, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.9 (50, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.0 (22, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 4.9 (296, 11)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.8 (N/A)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.4 (106, 4)
Rebound Margin: 7.6 (10, 2)
Assists Per Game: 13.2 (134, 9)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.6 (205, 11)

Madness 2014 NBA Draft Rankings:
#12 Gary Harris
#28 Adreian Payne
#37 Branden Dawson
#57 Keith Appling


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