Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
No days off for seniors Appling and Payne.
The title of this slide is self-explanatory.
Getting All-American play from Adreian Payne wouldn't hurt. Quality minutes from one of the game's best shooters, Gary Harris, certainly helps matters. Appling, well, he's one step away from "there"—the land of true senior point men in East Lansing.
He just has to avoid disappearing during big games in January and February, as was the case in 2012-13.
Just more than a week ago, Payne scored a career-high 33 points during a victory over an extremely physical Texas squad. Be on the lookout for more spurts like that. They'll be necessary.
Once again, the Big Ten is one of the strongest conferences from top to bottom in college hoops. Michigan State plays No. 3-ranked Ohio State twice, while lucking out with just one meeting with Bo Ryan's No. 4-ranked Wisconsin, a team that, at times, plays Izzo ball better than Izzo teams play it.
The Badgers literally grind opponents to a halt. How else do you think they win games 27-9 (not a real score, you get the point).
At first glance, an overly challenging stretch doesn't stand out on the schedule. That's because teams are developing. The Buckeyes should be contenders. Iowa could be a surprise. Penn State has the up-and-down thing going for it. If anything, the Nittany Lions could play their common role of spoiler.
Michigan is solid but could run into trouble without Mitch McGary, who's out indefinitely while recovering from a back surgery.
The Big Ten's outcome isn't written in stone; Izzo's big three is rock solid, and must play as such if the Spartans are going to dribble with the best in 2014.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan State Spartans basketball writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81