10 Reasons Why Michigan State Will Make a Final Four Run
10 Reasons Why Michigan State Will Make Final Four Run
It hasn't been the luckiest season for the Michigan State Spartans as the Tom Izzo-coached squad has suffered a handful of injuries, but still have managed to post an 18-1 record. Being unbeaten in the Big Ten through seven games is impressive and it will be much more impressive if the Spartans can pull off a win against the No. 21 Michigan Wolverines at home without two starters.
Sure, it seems like Izzo always has a solid Michigan State squad come March, but why is this year any different? Why is this year's team any better than the team's in the past few years that had solid runs come NCAA Tournament time? How can Izzo engineer his first national title since 2000?
Those questions aren't so easy to answer, but this year's squad has a different type of feel to it. It's not often that you can tell a Michigan State team from the rest -- seeing as they are all so successful in their own regard -- but the 2013-14 Spartans seem to be on the right track to greatness.
No, Michigan State isn't quite great this season, but with the best start in school history and a good chance of winning a Big Ten title, the Spartans seem to be more motivated than ever to take home the national title trophy.
Is it the toughness of the Spartans that will carry them? Or maybe it's the depth? What about the fact that the Spartans have Tom Izzo as their coach? There are many reasons that will ensure a Final Four run for the Spartans, but I have narrowed it down to 10 for the sake of main reasons being named.
Let's take a look at the 10 reasons why Michigan State will make a Final Four run come March. Let me know if there are any reasons you agree or disagree with in the comment section below.
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
10. There's No Dominant Team in College Basketball This Year
College basketball is about as wide open as it gets this season. There isn't one team that is heads and shoulders above the rest, not even the unbeaten Arizona Wildcats, and that's what makes Michigan State's talent and 18-1 start so excited for Spartan fans.
9. Gary Harris is Becoming Elite
He's only a sophomore, but he's arguably the best player on the team -- and usually on the court at all times. The sophomore guard is becoming even more elite and the rest of the nation is starting to take notice of his 18.3 points per game and extreme athletic ability.
8. One of the Toughest Teams in the Nation
Michigan State is tough. That is one thing that Tom Izzo preaches in East Lansing. If you aren't tough, you won' t play -- it's as simple as that. Michigan State will wear teams down with toughness and rebounding prowess so much that if the opposition doesn't have a counter, it's nearly impossible to take the Spartans down.
7. Adreian Payne's Return From Injury
Adreian Payne has been out with a tough foot injury for the past couple of weeks and has missed four straight games in the process. The sharpshooting big man is the team's second-best scorer at 16.2 points per game and the second-leading rebounder with 7.7 per contest. When he comes back, this team will be even stronger than it was during it's 4-0 run with him on the bench.
6. Best Team in the Best Conference
Let's face it, Michigan State is the best team in the Big Ten -- which happens to be the best conference in the nation. The best team from the best conference will have been battle-tested heavily come tournament time and these Spartans are no different. If they can win the Big Ten, the NCAA Tournament will come with relative ease.
5. Backcourt is Elite
Keith Appling and Gary Harris are two of the best guards in the nation and it's no surprise that both are in talks as the Big Ten Player of the Year. The two guards combine for 33.9 points and 7.6 assists per game -- now that's a productive backcourt. Oh, and don't forget the backups in Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine who are both capable of taking over the reigns at any time.
4. Overcoming Adversity
This team has been overcoming adversity since day one. What do I mean by this? The fact that they are still the No. 3 team in the nation despite an injuries to Gary Harris, Adreian Payne, Branden Dawson, Matt Costello and Travis Trice is pretty impressive. In fact, only three guys have played in every game this season -- only one is a starter. Without Payne and Dawson in the lineup for a little while, this team will be stronger than ever when March rolls around.
3. They Are Extremely Deep
Michigan State is one of the deepest teams in the nation and it can be attributed to the injuries that have forced it to adapt. The Spartans have lost four starters at some point this season and that has given guys like Kenny Kaminski and Alex Gauna a chance to prove themselves as viable options in the rotation. The Spartans are about 10-12 deep and 12 guys average at least 6.5 minutes per game. That is something that teams love to have in March.
Experience is one of the most important things to bring to the court. Nine of the top 10 leading scorers on Michigan State have played in an NCAA Tournament before -- now that's impressive experience. However, they aren't too old as the Spartans have just two seniors on the entire team -- and four juniors. The Spartans' experience is going to take them a long way.
1. Tom Izzo is Mr. March
You could argue that Tom Izzo is the best NCAA Tournament coach out there -- besides Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski. Nicknamed Mr. March by his loyal fans, Izzo has been known to make it to the Final Four on a regular basis and he even holds the distinction of leading every player who has stayed at the program for four years to at least one Final Four. Yeah, this guy is an expert at all things NCAA Tournament.