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