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2009 NCAA Basketball National Champion: Michigan State

The new college basketball season is just around the corner, and we have a handful of writers here that follow some of the best college programs in the country.  In fact, most of them are being figured to make deep runs into the Tournament of 64 in March.  So we thought we would tell you why those teams will be the eventual National Champion. There is no reason to preview individual teams unless we thought they would be the National Champ, also because anything else would greatly disappoint all of us.  Don’t worry, we will be previewing each conference over the next month as well.

Originally, Patphish was was going to start things off with UConn, but as mentioned earlier in the comments, a friend of ours cut off the top of his thumb, and the Phish ended up at the hospital last night.  So that left a huge void in this morning schedule.  So the boss man has to step up.

Here is the schedule of these posts

Michigan State (Today)
UConn (10/30)
Tennessee (11/6)
Florida (11/13)

Now let’s take a look at your 2009 National Champion Michigan State Spartans.

Last Year: 27-9, 12-6 Big Ten, loss in Sweet 16 to eventual runner-up Memphis, 92-74

2008 Final Rankings: AP 18, Coaches 13

Key Losses: PG Drew Neitzel, F/C Drew Naymick

Key Returnees: PG Kalin Lucas, F Raymar Morgan, F Goran Suton, G Travis Walton, PG Marquise Gray, Chris Allen, Durell Summers

Key Additions: PF Delvon Roe, G Korie Lucious)

Coach: Tom Izzo (13 Seasons, Record: 305-130, 4 Big Ten Titles, 4 Final Four Appearances 1 National Title)

For all the success the Spartans have had in Tom Izzo’s tenure, the Spartans have not won a Big Ten Title since the 2000-2001 campaign.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see them not win the conference title again this season.  If they do managed to grab it, I could see them tying Purdue for the regular season title.  However, a Big Ten title is not necessarily a recipe for success come tourney time.  Very few teams come as battle tested as the Spartans do when March rolls around. This year will be no different.  They will begin their journey in March with a Big Ten Tournament Championship.

Unlike one of the other teams we are going to preview, Izzo and his Spartans are never afraid of a tough non-conference schedule and stays away from a typical November and December filled with cupcakes.  The MSU schedule features: Maryland, Gonzaga or Oklahoma State, Tennessee or Gerogetown, North Carolina from Ford Field (Basketbowl 2), Bradley, Texas, oh and a visit from defending National Champion Kansas Jayhawks in them middle of the Big Ten season.  This could put the Spartans in a huge hole before the conference starts, but if anything, these opponents prepare them for the tough basketball they will face in the Big Dance.

Kalin Lucas, Big Ten Player of the Year

The Spartans are expected to pick up the pace offensively with Kalin Lucas running the point full time.  The last couple years, the Spartans were limited offensively, and ran the entire offense through Drew Neitzel, running off of screens.  This team wants to run, and there are not many that can run faster in college basketball than Lucas.  He is still flying somewhat under the radar, but you will know who he is by the time MSU plays UNC, and he matches up with Ty Lawson.  He will be supported by the highly versatile, but somewhat inconsistent Raymar Morgan.  Morgan has the ability to matchup with anyone in the college game, but seems to disappear when he is not looked at that first option.  Goran Suton could be the double double guy the team has been looking for since Paul Davis left 3 years ago.  Unlike Davis, Suton is not afraid to leave the floor and dunk the ball when given the opportunity. The sharp shooting Allen, who really started to show his outside range late in the season, will look to stretch defenses so that they do not clog the lane, which will help Lucas penetrate.  Travis Walton is going to be on the short list for Big Ten defensive players of the year, but he will need to look for his own shot on offense, so that defenses are forced to play against all guys on the court.  Durrell Summers should be the spark off the bench with his high flying abilities that are reminiscent of Jason Richardson. Suton should not be alone on the inside, as freshman Delvon Roe is expected to be a major contributor once he get his legs under him, since he is coming off of microfracture surgery.  He was considered a Top 5 recruit prior to the injury, and is expected to be fine once the season begins.

The players above will still provide the toughness one expects from a Tom Izzo led squad.  State has always been known for great man-to-man defense, and excellent rebounding, always being near the top in the nation in those categories.  This team is miles better than the team that reached the Sweet 16 last year, and is much more athletic.  The lack of explosiveness is a huge reason as to why they found themselves down 30 at half time to Memphis.  The offense was still built around Drew Neitzel, and players like Lucas, Allen and Summers were unable to play the way they were capable, being hamstrung by that system.  As I stated earlier,  Raymar Morgan, who is more of a slasher, was looking to defer to the streaky Neitzel. His game should open up now. There are so many more weapons on this team, as much talent as the program has had since the 2005 team that reached the Final Four.  They can beat you from the outside, run on you, and pound it inside if needed.  That humiliating loss to Memphis will also provide excellent motivation as the season begins.

You will be cutting them down again, Tom.

The biggest reason why this Michigan Sate team is going to make the deep run into the first weekend in April is Tom Izzo.  The guy just knows how to win, and motivate his team and get the best performances out of his guys in the tourney.  His staff scouts teams better than anyone in college basketball, and his high expectations each season push his kids to perform better on the national stage come spring time.  No coach has had more success over the last 10 years than the man that leads the Izzone.

A Final 4 run is always in the realm of possibility when it comes to this age of Spartan basketball, but something magical is going to happen when they reach it this year.  They are going to win it in front of the hometown crowd.  Ford Field plays host to this years final weekend of college basketball, and the Spartans are highly motivated to win it in the state of Michigan.

Do I expect at 35 win season? Not at all, but this team will get through the gauntlet that has been placed before them out of conference, then battle through the physical Big Ten, and be a stronger team because of it and enjoy One Shining Moment in Motown.

In the spirit of GITC’s NBA previews, here is the best One Shining Moment evAr on Youtube.  The Flintstones baby:


43 Responses

  1. They won’t win a big 10 title this year either. Purdue will.

  2. Unlike one of the other teams we are going to preview, Izzo and his Spartans are never afraid of a tough non-conference schedule and stays away from a typical November and December filled with cupcakes.

    When your conference is full of garbage like Northwestern, Michigan, Penn St, Indiana (gonna win 5 games?), Minnesota and Iowa you better play a real non-conference schedule.

  3. Dupay > Cleaves

  4. or we could just merge with another conference and have 50 teams in it. then we can be sure to have more than a few good teams.

  5. Michigan St. definitely is scarier than last year. Wisconsin got worse. Undoubtedly a 2 horse race in the Big Ten.

  6. Yet another season of 52-49 Big 10 barn burners.

  7. the guy with 52 still gets a win.

  8. MSU wins the Big 10, Ohio State and Purdue will have something to say though.

    I think the Big 10 is a 3 -4 bid league, a few really good teams, and a lot of doo doo.

  9. 52-49 > 100-95

    /defense wins championships

  10. That’s a lot of words about a team that won’t make it out of the Sweet 16.

  11. /defense wins championships

    Maybe in soccer it does. Not in NCAA hoops. See: Gators, Florida.

  12. Pat, we played some pretty good defense. Might wanna go check those teams.

    Breaking News (College BBall related): Lute Olsen Retiring.

  13. Or we could have the strongest conference easily and then add three teams to try to improve our football and then watch those football programs not be good while also ruining the staggering depth of the conference even though it’s still pretty good and the best most years anyway.

    /ACC Purist

  14. No doubt you played decent “D”, however you won because you could fill it up. OSU had a better D, never thought for a minute that they would beat you.

  15. Or we could have the strongest conference easily and then add three teams to try to improve our football and then watch those football programs not be good while also ruining the staggering depth of the conference even though it’s still pretty good and the best most years anyway.

    Sigh……their’s always one. Please don’t bring your ACC line of total bullshit to us. The Big East is better. Always.
    Your NBA knowledge however, is scary good.

  16. Does anyone on this site follow UMD?


  17. The champs will come from the Big XII again.

    Hook ’em.

  18. another match up against you guys clown. Guess we will have to make it 3 in a row.

  19. Sparty, who’s you ACC person? I could care less about the Big Ten or Twelve. ACC and Big East are basketball.

  20. Tubby > Izzo

  21. We really don’t have an ACC person.

  22. hawkeye, that is the most foolish thing you have ever said.

  23. Tubby > Izzo

    You been using the meth again?

  24. We really don’t have an ACC person.

    That’s fantastic. Can we just be an ACC free blog? Can we? Can we? Pleeeeeeeeeeeeease boss?

  25. I’m won’t be talking about them, except whenever I get the chance to say, FUCK DUKE.

  26. We have to have ONE ACC person.


    SEC> Big East > ACC

  27. fuck no is the SEC the best conference. get that shit out of here. this ain’t football, bitch.

  28. The Horns trample Sparty this year. I’m willing to wager.

  29. I’ll help out with the ACC. I don’t want you to hurt the credibility of S&F because you refused to cover the best conference in college basketball.

  30. SEC> Big East > ACC

    It’s hoops Trey, not football. Pay attention.

  31. The Horns trample Sparty this year. I’m willing to wager.

    I’ll take that bet and I could care less about either team.

  32. ill-email me.

    //but serious

  33. Standing by Tubby > Izzo here.

    No meth, but the crack is popular with the sports talk radio DJs around these parts right now.

  34. New Post

  35. …when March roles around.

    you forgot the /stigs’d.

    And is Izzo just practicing cutting down the net?? There’s no one there.

  36. i blame patphish for bailing and having to slop that shit together this morning.

  37. What an asshole for bailing. It’s not like it was his kid or something.


  38. In any potential dream season, there is the inevitable threat of an occasional nightmare. UNC’s schedule presents a little bit of everything including a few games that, win or lose, should provide a treat to any college

  39. Sophomores Robbie Hummel and E’Twaun Moore smile as the walk off the court after Purdue’s 71-64 victory against Boston College in the semi-final round of the 2008 NIT Season Tip-off at Madison Square Garden. sponsored by NEW YORK – The

  40. CHAPEL HILL — North Carolina’s march toward Detroit and a berth in the Final Four began with a step in the right direction Saturday. The top-ranked Tar Heels opened their men’s basketball season by tripping Penn 86-71 at the Dean

  41. LSU’s streak of Associated Press women’s basketball Top 25 appearances is over — while Connecticut became a unanimous choice at No. 1. The Lady Tigers today fell out of the AP poll for the first time since Feb. 25, 2002, a span of 117

  42. LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Bruce Pearl didn’t spend long celebrating Friday’s win over Georgetown.

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