AJ Hoggard, Mady Sissoko, Michigan State Spartans

Tom Izzo returns a veteran team to East Lansing, hoping to give him a second championship with the Michigan State Spartans.

As is tradition, CBB Review is again ranking the top 100 teams heading into the new college basketball season. Each day, we will reveal the next team until we reach the team slotted at number one. Follow along with #CBBRank on all our social media channels.
A top-heavy Big Ten is likely between the Purdue Boilermaker and Michigan State Spartans at the top. The Spartans have one of the most experienced teams in the nation, with their top six players all either starting or playing in big roles last season.
The three-headed monster of AJ Hoggard, Tyson Walker, and Jaden Akins is primed to take over most games. Malik Hill has seen it all, as one of four seniors/graduate seniors in the starting five. Mady Sissoko isn’t a scorer but still provides rebounding and strength down low.
Finally, 5-star freshman Xavier Booker, and two other top-40 recruits, Jeremy Fears Jr. and Coen Carr have what it takes to give Michigan State a new energy on the court.
Tom Izzo’s coaching career is winding down, but clearly, his ability to recruit great players is not. Who knows how many years he will remain at Michigan State before calling it quits? It’ll be interesting to follow MSU all season to see if they can give Izzo one last chance at a second title.
Click here to learn more about our preseason top 100 teams heading into the 2023-24 college basketball season.

Head coach: Tom Izzo (29th season, all at Michigan State)

2022-23 record: 21-13 (11-8)

2023 postseason finish: Lost to Kansas State, 98-93, in Sweet 16 of NCAA Tournament

Notable departures: Joey Hauser (Pro), Pierre Brooks (Transferred to Butler)

Notable non-conference games: vs. Duke (Nov. 14, in Chicago), vs. Butler (Nov. 17), vs. Arizona (Nov. 23, in Palm Springs, CA), vs. Baylor (Dec. 16)

Projected Rotation

PG: AJ Hoggard (6-4, 210, Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 12.9 PPG, 5.9 APG, 3.7 RPG

SG: Tyson Walker (6-1, 185, Gr.-Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 14.8 PPG, 2.9 APG, 2.5 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 41.5 3P%

SF: Jaden Akins (6-4, 190, Jr.)

2022-23 stats: 9.8 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.2 SPG, 42.2 3P%)

PF: Malik Hall (6-8, 220, Gr.-Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 8.9 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.2 APG

C: Mady Sissoko (6-9, 250, Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 5.1 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 0.5 APG, 61.2 FG%

6: Jaxon Kohler (6-9, 245, So.)

2022-23 stats: 3.0 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 0.3 APG, 50.5 FG%

7: Xavier Booker (6-11, 220, Fr.)

247Sports Composite No. 14 rated recruit

8: Jeremy Fears Jr. (6-2, 190, Fr.)

247Sports Composite No. 31 rated recruit

9: Coen Carr (6-5, 220, Fr.)

247Sports Composite No. 33 rated recruit

10: Tre Holloman (6-2, 180, So.)

2022-23 stats: 1.3 PPG, 0.9 APG, 0.8 RPG

11: Carson Cooper (6-11, 240, So.)

2022-23 stats: 1.6 PPG, 0.9 RPG, 0.1 APG

Michigan State Spartans MVP: AJ Hoggard

One of a few deserving players of this ‘award’, Hoggard does a little bit of everything for the Michigan State Spartans.

As a scorer, Hoggard is always in attack mode, where he is best at finishing at the cup. However, he can also step back and hit threes and create space for himself on offense because of his elite playmaking abilities. Hoggard’s 5.9 APG last year is the second most of any returning Big Ten player.

With such a great starting lineup, all five players can feed off each other and get open. Hoggard can do that better than most whether it’s for himself or for his teammates.

Michigan State Spartans make-or-break player: Jaden Akins

I’d love to see Akins take that next step and really put Michigan State over the top. We know what Hoggard and Walker are capable of, but imagine if Akins turns on a new gear?

We saw bursts of it last season. A 12-point game at Wisconisn, 15 points at Indiana, and 21 at Iowa all show the scorer Akins can be. In the NCAA Tournament loss to Kansas State, Akins showed up, going 6-for-10 for 16 points. Building off that and becoming a scorer in the realm of 12-13 PPG this season would give the Spartans the most dynamic backcourt in the country.

Key analytic: SPG

While Michigan State’s defense was good last year, holding opponents to 67.9 PPG, they didn’t create many turnovers. In fact, the Spartans were 343rd in steals per game, well at the bottom of the country.

For how great of a defensive team the Spartans are, they can really separate themselves from the pack by creating more turnovers.

Michigan State Spartans 2023-24 projections

Projected conference finish: 2nd in the Big Ten

Projected postseason ceiling: NCAA Tournament Champions

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