Michigan State will open its season against Florida Gulf Coast on Nov. 13 as the No. 2 team in the country.
The Spartans have a lot to look forward to this year. Kalin Lucas, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year, is back. In fact, they return the whole nucleus of the team that was the national runner-up last season, and have two great new freshmen.
Derrick Nix and Garrick Sherman are the new players on campus this year. Both are big men, Nix at 6'8" and Sherman at 6'10", which is good considering the losses of Goran Suton and Marquis Gray.
Coach Tom Izzo has said that this year's team may be like a doughnut, with a hole in the middle.
Last season Goran Suton and Marquis Gray carried the load up front. Delvon Roe, now a sophomore, has shown he can bang with the big boys up front, so it will be up to Nix and Sherman to step up and take a share of the load, especially once the Big Ten in-conference part of the schedule rolls around.
The back court, however, is looking great. Lucas is the most electric player in the Big Ten. Durrell Summers started to look like a superstar in the second half of last season.
Raymar Morgan rounds it out at small forward. If he can stay healthy, watch out, because he will be a candidate for Big Ten Player of the Year.
The bench will be very deep as well. Chris Allen was very inconsistent last year, but if he can get his shot right, he is one of the best shooters in the Big Ten.
Korie Lucious is another guard off the bench who will fill in for Lucas. Lucious is the fastest player on the team and will give some quality minutes. Draymond Green will also offer up some minutes up front with Roe, Nix, and Sherman.
Tom Izzo will have this team ready to go, as there are some tough games early (Gonzaga, Florida, North Carolina). Looking ahead, I see the Spartans easily repeating as Big Ten Champs, going 26-4 overall and 16-2 in conference play.