Which CBB Powerhouse Has Better Incoming Freshmen: Michigan or Michigan State?

Adam BiggersSenior Analyst IIJuly 23, 2014

Tom Izzo doesn't have a star-studded 2014 class. His in-state counterpart, John Beilein, is much closer to having one.
Tom Izzo doesn't have a star-studded 2014 class. His in-state counterpart, John Beilein, is much closer to having one.Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

Neither has an overwhelming class of scholarship freshmen to boast about, but Michigan and Michigan State each have sturdy and respectable 2014 crops capable of delivering hearty yields. 

Head-to-head, the classes aren't all that comparable, either: Tom Izzo's next group of Spartans is comprised of just three while John Beilein has five (minus Austin Hatch) new Wolverines to prep in 2014-15.

However, when addressing needs and fits, they can be measured against one another. 

Beilein may have the power in numbers, but Izzo could have his next great, program-defining point guard on his hands. On the contrary, Michigan landed one of the country's elite prospects. 

Let the circular debate over apples and oranges begin. 


Numbers from 247 Sports

John Beilein and Tom Izzo are among the best coaches in the country.
John Beilein and Tom Izzo are among the best coaches in the country.Tony Ding/Associated Press

MSU: Tum-Tum Nairn, 4-star PG; Javon Bess, 3-star SF; Marvin Clark 3-star PF; Kenny Goins, walk-on PF.

UM: Kameron Chatman, 4-star SF; D.J. Wilson, 4-star SF; Ricky Doyle, 3-star PF; Aubrey Dawkins, 3-star SG; Muhammad-Ali Abdur Rahkman, 2-star SG.

According to 247Sports, Michigan State's Next Men are ranked No. 51 nationally and No. 6 in the Big Ten; Michigan's are No. 28 nationally and No. 3 in the Big Ten. But again, we're talking three versus five. 

If composites are your fancy, then the following information may help you decide: On average, the Spartans, per 247Sports' balance, actually have higher-quality recruits—they range from grades of 86 to 93; the Wolverines class encompasses everything, from the superstar to the super raw (N/A and 80 to 98). 

Izzo's "best" is Nairn, who grades at 93 and change. Beilein's is Chatman, who's a 98 and then some (we'll get to these guys later). 

Now the numbers can be viewed in different ways. By virtue of having more room, Michigan was bound to have lower-graded recruits. Beilein can't sign five blue chips, right? But his top three stack up well versus Izzo's top three, though.

Now, when a coach has limited capacity to fill, he doesn't have as much wiggle room. Most of the time, he has to focus on getting the guys who can and do over the ones who could and might. 

Of course, that varies from person to person. And Izzo isn't exactly the best example of such practices; the five-time national coach of the year rarely gets the most sought-after kids, but he seeks the most out of the ones he gets. 


Best Fits

Speaking of getting the most out of players, let's start with Izzo, who can take a half-star and mold him into a Big Ten Player of the Year candidate. Then again, so can Beilein. This part will end here. 

Moving forward...

There may not be a team in the league, or country, that relies on its 1-guard more than Michigan State. You know the list—Mateen Cleaves, Scott Skiles, Eric Snow, Drew Neitzel and Kalin Lucas—so there's no need to rehash history. You know what they did. They were greats.

With that being said, it's difficult not to view Nairn—a 5'10", 165-pound, fleet-footed Bahamian by way of Kansas—as the perfect piece to the 2014 recruiting comparison puzzle. Izzo should do wonders with the 4-star athlete. Nairn is arguably faster than Lucas, one of the speediest, and he makes legends think of themselves. 

It was just a Moneyball Pro-Am summer game in Lansing, but Nairn looked great, says Cleaves—so much that Cleaves said that he couldn't help but see a little of himself in the freshman, via MLive.com's Kyle Austin

He reminds me of myself. Because it’s just a regular open gym game, and you would think it’s the Big Ten championship or an NCAA tournament. He just plays hard, he knows one way.

I think being like that, that’s what’s going to help him become -- I don’t want to put pressure on him, but I think that’s what’s going to help him become a really good player at Michigan State.

Under Beilien, Michigan's offense has flourished with athletic wingers, and there is certainly a case for Chatman being more of a natural fit than Nairn.

At nearly 6'7" and 200 pounds, Chatman is going to be a very good one from the start. That may not be the case for Nairn; but overall, the point guard could do more in the long run for his program. 

As for immediate needs, Nairn looks to fill the post vacated by Keith Appling, a four-year contributor. Without Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary, Beilein's team could use assistance in the frontcourt. 

Flip a coin on need. As for best fit, call it "Nairn" in the air. 


Gaudy Returns? 

The Wolverines frontcourt will be intimidating. Give it a season-and-a-half, and that position group will dominate the Big Ten. With Chatman on the wing and occasionally in the paint, Beilein has a versatile forward who promises to be nothing but trouble for the opposition.

Throw in D.J. Wilson, a 6'8", 200-pound forward who can move, and we're talking about an All-Big Ten one-two punch.

Ricky Doyle's been raved about this summer, too. But the 6'9", 235-pounder doesn't have the 4-star tag like Chatman and Wilson, making him a prime candidate for sleeper pick for those looking for an unsung hero. 

There's one downside to all of this: Chatman and Wilson probably won't stick around for all four years.

So Beilein has to get it while it's good, if only for two or three seasons. Pairing the freshman trio with existing parts—Caris LeVert, Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin, among others—is a not-so-subtle way of putting the rest of the Big Ten on notice. 

Conversely, Javon Bess, a lean, 6'5", 185-pound wing, could develop into something similar to Durrell Summers but better. Having a long, athletic dunker and shooter makes life easier. With Nairn and Marvin Clark, former high school teammates at Sunrise Christian in Wichita, Kansas, Bess is in a great position to succeed. This three-man group doesn't have "Final Four" written on it, but that's its charm. 

These guys are viewed as a down class. Chips are on shoulders. Typically, something-to-proves pay huge dividends for Izzo. Ask...well...half of the guys that he's recruited.  

It's too easy to say that each class is talented. But there is a lot to like about each haul. With that being said, Michigan State's class seems to be built on the long-distance course while Michigan's is built for a sprint. Choosing the superior is a matter of taste. 


Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan State Spartans and Michigan Wolverines basketball writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.