Make some noise, East Lansing — Michigan State Spartans have all the ingredients for a deep NCAA tournament run and, why not say, the national championship title in the 2023/24 season?
Even head coach Tom Izzo, who enters his 28th campaign at the helm of the Spartans on the back of a record 25th subsequent NCAA tournament appearance, underlined the strength and the depth of this roster by saying famous words “this could be the year” during the Big Ten media days several weeks ago in Minneapolis.
The Spartans made it to Sweet 16 last March. They will return over 77% of last season’s minutes and they will top it with one of the best recruiting classes in the country. Will it be enough for the championship?
We’ll analyze the team’s roster and schedule to see whether the hype is justified while providing our favorite Michigan Spartans futures picks in the process and the best odds you can get on the best Michigan sportsbooks.
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Joey Hauser as the Lone Significant Omission from the Last Season
Michigan State had a rollercoaster campaign in the previous NCAA term. They picked up famous wins over the likes of Kentucky and Villanova to go 12-4 in the opening 16 affairs, only to drop in form and lose five of the following seven outings. Izzo’s men then showed character to clinch a couple of wins when it mattered most, beating USC and Marquette to reach the school’s maiden Sweet 16 since 2019.
Tyson Walker, AJ Hoggard, Joey Hauser, and Mady Sissoko were the standout performers last season. The Spartans will return three of these players for the 2023/24 campaign as only Hauser departed this summer. Hauser led the team in minutes and win shares, but he was not the focal point on either end of the floor. Walker led Michigan State in points and steals. Hoggard racked up most assists, while Sissoko was the leader in rebounds.
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A Stunning Recruiting Class
Many experts criticized Izzo’s squad for the lack of depth last season. They certainly won’t do so this time around, as the Spartans have added four major prospects in one of the best recruiting classes in the nation.
Xavier Booker tops the list of four massive additions as the lone five-star prospect among them, but the likes of Coen Carr, Jeremy Fears, and Gehrig Normand can all make a big impact straight away. Booker and Carr are athletic beasts. Knowing they will play alongside some of the best and the most experienced players in the country (Hoggard, Walker, Akins) under such a capable head coach as Izzo, we can hardly imagine a better place for their development.
A Challenging Schedule
Michigan State will have a challenging slate in the 2023/24 campaign with four games against preseason’s top 10 teams and six more against preseason’s top 25 outfits.
The good news is they will not have double-headers against Purdue and Maryland in Big Ten but the non-conference play will take them to the Champions Classic against Duke, the Thanksgiving clash against Arizona, and the pre-Christmas game against Baylor in Detroit.
To be the best you need to beat the best and Michigan State should have what it takes to battle such a daunting schedule with one of the best backcourts in the country and the aforementioned depth of the roster.
Hoggard, Walker, and Akins are Ready to Shine
Many consider AJ Hoggard and Tyson Walker the best backcourt duo in college basketball and we can hardly argue against such claims.
Walker enters his third season with the Spartans after averaging 14.8 points, 2.9 assists, and 1.1 steals last time out while Hoggard is one of the best point guards in the nation, ranking sixth in the league in assist rate (38.7%) last year. The fact they will play alongside each other once again is frightening and the added depth of Tre Holloman and freshman Jeremy Fears as their backups represents such a big threat to all contenders for the championship.
Jaden Akins, Malik Hall, and Mady Sissoko should be the remaining three starters. None of them are elite players, but all are very much capable of shining on this roster. Akins was 42.9% from downtown last year and we expect his numbers to improve drastically from the 9.8 points per game sophomore campaign.
Hall seems fully recovered from an unpleasant foot injury that kept him sidelined for a good part of last year. His experience and toughness can prove vital for the team’s ambitions in the upcoming campaign. Freshman Xavier Booker and sophomores Carson Cooper and Jaxon Kohler will provide strong competition for big man Mady Sissoko under the rim.
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This Team Can Go All the Way
Taking everything into consideration, it is now or never for Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans.
Predicting the national champion before the start of the regular season is always a hard task in college basketball, but it is impossible to ignore the lucrative +1600 odds (on the BetMGM sports app) offered for Michigan State to go all the way this time around.
DraftKings has the Spartans at +550 to reach the Final Four while the more conservative punters can opt for this team to win Big Ten Conference at +200 odds with BetMGM. (check out our full DraftKings Sportsbook review for more details).
Top Three Predictions:
- Michigan State to Win the National Championship (+1600) with BetMGM
- Michigan State to Reach the NCAA Final Four (+550) with DraftKings
- Michigan State to Win Big Ten Conference (+200) with BetMGM