#2 MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS
SU Record: 76% (28-9)
ATS Record: 42% (15-21)
Over (Total): 46% (15-18-1)
Points Scored: 71.8 PPG
Points Allowed: 63.8 PPG
Scoring Margin: 8.0 PPG
The Spartans may have to wait a little this season before its experienced backcourt reaches its maximum potential. That’s because top point guard Kalin Lucas (14.8 PPG, 4.0 APG, 45.3 FG%) will likely not be at 100 percent when the season begins, still recovering from the torn Achilles tendon he suffered in last March’s second-round tournament victory over Maryland. Befitting the mentality of Tom Izzo’s teams, Durrrell Summers (11.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG) picked it up when Lucas went down. Summers started drilling the three-pointer with much greater efficiency (17-of-34 from beyond the arc over five games) as the Spartans got deeper into the tournament. Izzo hopes to keep Summers focused on a nightly basis. Basketball odds.
Junior Korie Lucious saved Michigan State’s season in the game Lucas was injured, drilling the three-pointer at the buzzer to beat Maryland, and keeping the Spartans on the road to the Final Four. With senior Chris Allen kicked off the team, Lucious should have many more opportunities to contribute clutch performances. Senior Mike Kebler and junior Austin Thornton will provide depth which could be more important than usual depending on the status of Lucas.
If the success of a football team begins in the trenches, the success of an Izzo basketball team begins in the frontcourt, where the banging takes place. Having dropped a few pounds in the offseason, Draymond Green (9.9 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 3.0 APG) will be a lean mean Spartan machine in the paint. Last season Green was one of the best bench players in the nation. This year he may be the team’s best all-around player, with room for his game to grow. Delvon Roe (6.4 PPG, 5.0 RPG) started 30 games last year and hopes to put up bigger numbers with a move to his more natural power-forward position. Sophomores Derrick Nix and Garrick Sherman, along with freshman Adreian Payne, will battle for minutes at center. If one had to guess, whomever is most willing to sacrifice his body for that one extra rebound will likely earn the minutes, as well as the admiration of Izzo. Basketball spreads.
No basketball program in America is characterized more by its football persona than Michigan State. Looking back at the signature win of its 2010 tournament run might explain why. Michigan State lost its best player to injury as an upstart Maryland team tenaciously fought back. Before they had time to panic, Durrell Summers responded with his best tournament performance ever, and Korie Lucious’ buzzer-beating three-pointer saved the day. No excuses, just responses. When a teammate goes down, another one steps in and steps up. That’s the Izzo way. Its earned the program six trips to the Final Four in the past 12 years, with a seventh berth very possible. The Spartans will need to see Lucas regain his First Team All-Big Ten form, as well as keep Durrell Summers hungry on a nightly basis. The experienced, physical frontline will need to continue its development. If Green and Roe can dominate the glass and help State repeat its league-leading performance in rebound margin (+8.6 RPG), the Spartans D should shine. Do those things, and remind Tom Izzo when March arrives, and it should be first down and goal to go for a third straight trip to the Final Four.
The Spartans were the second-best shooting team in the Big Ten (47.1 FG%) but ranked 11th in the league in free throws (68.5%). On its home floor, State was 15-2 SU but only 5-11 ATS. As a favorite, Sparty was 23-5 straight up, but 11-17 ATS. They were 14-4 SU vs. non-conference opponents, but 6-11 ATS. Basketball lines.
Sportsbook.com Odds to Win NCAA Championship: 20-to-1