2013-14 Michigan State Spartans Basketball Preview

Keith Appling-michigan-state-12-1Michigan State
2012-13 Record: 27-9; 13-5 Big Ten
Lost to Duke in regional semis.
NCAA Title Odds: 9/1

Betting Odds Courtesy of Bovada

The Michigan State Spartans have one great thing going for the squad this season: consistency. The team will return all relevant players except for Derrick Nix, and that will enable coach Tom Izzo to build some momentum on last season’s success. The Sweet 16 loss to Duke last season was a disappointment of sorts, as the team had a myriad of excuses that could have easily accounted for having advanced, not the least of which was injuries.

But any time a Sweet 16 team can return nearly its entire rotation, it’s going to be a featured pick for NCAA title odds and college basketball oddsmakers at Bovada set the odds for Michigan State at 9/1, which is the second-most likely to win behind Kentucky at 3/1.

Keith Appling has been a good player, but the room for growth in his playmaking abilities has been evident. Appling spent the off-season working on his decision making skills, which need to begin to take precedence to get his teammates more involved. He averaged 13.1 points per game last season, but just 3.3 assists per contest. Realistically, Appling could average 4.5 assists per game this season, but at 6’1″ and lacking true point guard talents, he’s a bit of a long shot to ever pan out at the next level.

Appling will share the backcourt with the Big Ten Freshman of the Year Gary Harris. Harris hit 41.1 percent from behind the arc last season and he’s good putting the ball on the floor as well. Teams will have difficulty contending with the Spartan backcourt, especially with the depth the team has with Denzel Valentine and Travis Trice coming off the bench.

The Spartans are going to count on Adrian Payne advancing some, too, to make up for the loss of Nix. Payne has a great basketball body at 6’10” 240 and he’s going to look to develop his skill set to showcase himself for the NBA, too. Payne is in his senior season, but could make an attractive option for a team looking for a project big with a low investment.

The Spartans top-shelf talent and outstanding backcourt will render them title contenders this year. The fate of the team may end up relying on just how much Appling progressed. He’s the marquee player and if his playmaking abilities have improved it will make the Spartans a lot more difficult to contend with, especially since Harris is expected to make a big leap as a sophomore, as well. Michigan State will be knocking at the door this March, and this team can go as far as Appling and Harris’ shooting abilities carry it.

Check out our season pick packages for the 2013-14 NCAA basketball season here at Maddux Sports!

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