Just How Good Are The 2012 Michigan State Spartans?


Let Saturday’s 58-48 victory over third ranked Ohio State be a wake up call to anyone who was sleeping on this year’s Michigan State team. It was understandable why this was one of Sparty’s least hyped-up teams in recent memory. After all, there was little for them to build on. They came into the season unranked after being eliminated in the first round of the NCAA tournament last year and lost three of their top four scorers, including star guard Kalin Lucas. When you lose that much talent from the previous year, there is going to be an adjustment period. It was just a matter of how long it would take. This was a team in transition. Draymond Green was asked to take over as the go-to scorer. Keith Appling, just a sophomore, was given the responsibility of running the offense. Both Brandon Wood, a transfer from Valparaiso, and Branden Dawson, a freshman, were placed in the starting lineup with zero combined minutes played in green and white. Sparty could have dropped their first two games to mid-level “Big Six” conference teams and it would have made sense. But they didn’t. Both of their early losses came against two of the nation’s better teams, one of them (North Carolina) outdoors on a ship of all places. Collegiate Division I basketball players should never be subject to long sleeve apparel, floor condensation, or wind-altered shots. The “adjustment” period didn’t take long, as the Spartans bounced back from their 0-2 start to go 23-3, with a 5-1 record against the AP top 25. None of those wins were more impressive than their most recent, Saturday at Ohio State, where the Buckeyes were undefeated with an average margin of victory over 25 points. This team may not possess the prolific guard-play of past Tom Izzo-led Spartan teams, but they carry nearly every other attribute. Toughness? Check. The combination of Derrick Nix, Draymond Green, and Adreian Payne downlow is an imposing force, as Sullinger, who had 10 turnovers Saturday, is all too familiar. Rebounding? Check. They rank 9th in the nation in rebounds, with 40 per game. Team chemistry? Check. They average 15.8 assists per game, with 60.2% of their field goals made coming off an assist. Keith Appling has developed into a rich man’s Korie Lucious, without the poor shot selection. Leadership? Double check. Draymond Green has become every bit of the go-to scorer and senior leader Sparty needed him to be. Oh and that guy Tom Izzo, he knows how to rally a troop. But, what separates this team from previous Spartan teams is defense. They rank third in the nation with 83.8 adjusted-schedule points allowed per 100 possessions. Statistically, this is the best defensive team Izzo has ever coached.

This is not the “pretty-boy, jump-shooting team” of last year. These Spartans are legit contenders. Let me know what you think of Sparty going forward. Everyone has an opinion, let’s hear yours. You can follow me on Twitter @MertesMist_TSB.
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