by Joel Welser
Last NCAA Appearance: 2007, Second Round loss to North Carolina
Coach: Tom Izzo (24-9 in 10 NCAA appearances)
Drew Neitzel, Senior, Guard
Kalin Lucas, Freshman, Guard
Raymar Morgan, Freshman, Forward
Goran Suton, Sophomore, Forward
Drew Naymick, Senior, Center
Chris Allen, Freshman, Guard
Durrell Summers, Freshman, Guard
Travis Walton, Junior, Guard
Marquise Gray, Junior, Forward
Why They Can Surprise:
The defense alone can keep the Spartans in any game. Michigan State is holding the opposition to just 40% shooting from the floor. That is nothing new for a Spartan team, but this group has a little more flash on the defensive end then has been seen in East Lansing lately. Drew Naymick has proved that he can be an intimidator under the basket. Add the tough Marquise Gray and versatile Goran Suton to the mix and Michigan State has a bevy of capable big men to eat up fouls and occasionally provide an offensive spark.
The Spartans have two superstars who can go off on any given night and score 20 or more points. Raymar Morgan is a superb athlete who will be on the receiving end of an alley-oop or two this March. Drew Neitzel is practically the only player on the team who will take a three-pointer. His senior year has been plagued by inconsistency, but when he needs to, Neitzel can take over a game.
Why They Can Disappoint:
The turnover numbers are way too high for an Izzo coached team. But it is not the fault of Neitzel or fellow ballhandler Travis Walton. Most of the turnovers come from the big guys or the freshmen. When the turnovers start getting out of control, the Spartans can lose their poise very quickly. Another concern could be the lack of three point shooting the Spartans have done this season. Few teams in the nation take fewer long balls than MSU. It may seem unnatural for this team to hoist up three’s to get back into a game, but at least they have a couple guys in Neitzel and freshman Chris Allen that can knock them down consistently.
Who To Watch:
A trio of freshmen guards has turned the Spartan offense from a struggling one man show to a dynamic balanced scoring attack in one short year. Kalin Lucas will run the point on occasion and he has the speed to beat anybody down the floor. Allen is a sharpshooter off the bench and Durrell Summers is another in a long line of great athletes that has made their way to East Lansing. When the freshmen are having a good day, the Spartans are tough to beat.
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