The college basketball season is approaching very quickly and I’m beyond excited. I have big expectations for my Spartans out of East Lansing, Michigan.
Despite not having any big name players other than Freshman McDonald’s All-American Deyonta Davis, we have an experienced and talented group if we can stay healthy and eligible. My expected starting five is: Sophomore PG Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr., Senior G Bryn Forbes, Senior G Denzel Valentine, Freshman F Deyonta Davis, and Senior F Matt Castello.
That’s a good amount of seniors and four out the five were on the team that made a Final Four appearance last season. This is a cohesive group that can give a lot of the top ranked teams trouble, especially when they get into mid-season form.
There are a lot of weapons coming off of the bench that have the potential to start. Junior transfer G Eron Harris gives coach Tom Izzo scoring and slashing. He averaged over 17 points a game at West Virginia so if he can stay out of trouble off of the court, he will provide a big boost to the Spartans. Also forwards Alvin Ellis III, Javon Bess, Gavin Schilling, and Marvin Clark Jr. Freshman guards Matt McQuaid and Kyle Ahrens can give outside shooting and versatility off of the bench for Coach Izzo.
Top to bottom, I don’t expect the Big Ten to be as competitive as it was last year. I see us and Maryland competing for the conference championship. There are, however, teams that can pose problems along the way like Indiana, Iowa, and Ohio State. Rivalry games are always unpredictable so the Michigan games will be a toss up.
With that being said, I have major expectations for this year’s Spartan team. With the veteran leadership and Final Four experience I will say this boldly and proudly, this team WILL go as far as Denzel Valentine takes us! He’s by far our best player and leader and we will lean on him to make winning plays in crunch time which he’s proven that he can do already. I believe this team will win about 25 games in the regular season and will make it to the Big Ten Tournament final to meet Maryland again and I believe our chemistry and experience will outweigh a more talented Terrapin team.
As far as the tournament goes, that’s always up for grabs. Being realistic, this team will probably be a Sweet 16 or Elite 8 exit to a team that is too overpowered. I will be satisfied with that knowing the talent that is coming in next season.
Stay tuned for the next installment of our college basketball Preseason Preview coming soon!
- Credits: ESPN (Statistics) and msuspartans.com (Schedule and Roster information)
- Melvin Jenkins Jr.