No matter what happens in the regular season, Tom Izzo knows how to work his tourney magic. With a majority of their talent returning from last year, Sparty will have a great chance at making another Final Four run again this season.
This team has experience and talent all across the board as they only lose two contributors from a year ago. The point is especially loaded with Kalin Lucas and Korie Lucious who have now both had success being the lead guard on the biggest stage of them all. Lucas is returning from a ruptured left Achilles' tendon, but is one of the best floor generals in the college game. Lucious admirably stepped in for Lucas during the tourney and can also play off the ball if Izzo decides to run the pair on the floor at the same time.
Durrell Summers will be leaned on more heavily this year especially with Chris Allen leaving the program. Summers was incredible during Sparty's Final Four run last season especially with his outside shot. If he can maintain that high level of play on a consistent basis, he will make this team even more dangerous. McDonald's All-American Keith Appling is a combo guard who will be asked to play some minutes at the two despite being just 6-1.
Nagging knee injuries have held Delvon Roe back a bit in his first two years in East Lansing, but he says he's at full strength. Whether or not he wears down during the season as his knees log more minutes will once again be something to keep an eye on. Sixth-man Draymond Green will move into the starting lineup to ultimately replace Raymar Morgan. Austin Thornton and Russell Byrd will provide depth at the three, while freshman Alex Gauna could see some minutes at the four.
The center spot is the only position that needs to figure itself out as the season moves along. Sophomores Garrick Sherman and Derrick Nix will compete for minutes with big-time freshman Adreian Payne. All three of capable of manning that starting spot or contributing off the bench which is a great problem for Izzo to have since most teams crave depth in the middle.
Regardless of how their regular season plays out, sleeping on a Tom Izzo-coached team come tourney time is like a character from Lost wandering alone in the jungle; it is just a bad idea. Plus, Michigan State will certainly be tourney-ready as they play a difficult non-conference schedule on top of being in a loaded Big Ten.
Player to Watch: Draymond Green, F
The reigning Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year pretty much saw starter minutes last year, but officially joins the first five this season. Green led the team in rebounding as he can throw his strong body around inside. He also possesses a nice mid-range game that makes him versatile enough to play either forward spot despite being just 6-6.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/16 vs. South Carolina
11/23 vs. UConn/Wichita State (Maui Invitational)
11/24 vs. Kentucky/Oklahoma/Washington/Virginia (Maui Invitational)