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Michigan State basketball: Evaluating odds for Big Ten, NCAA tournaments

Should you bet on MSU to make a Final Four run?



Michigan State basketball
© Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

The odds for Michigan State basketball to win Big Ten and national titles aren’t great but let’s dive into them.

Michigan State basketball is set to begin postseason play on Friday, March 10.

Let’s check the odds on Michigan State’s futures to see if there is any value in a potential March run for the Spartans. As always, shop around at different sports books for the best prices as these odds can vary.

Big Ten Tournament champions: +650

The Spartans currently sit around 6-to-1 (depending on the book) to win the Big Ten Tournament in Chicago this upcoming weekend. The only teams with shorter odds are Purdue and Indiana.

As the 4-seed, Michigan State’s most likely path based on seeding would include wins over Iowa, Purdue, and Northwestern. While it’s completely in the realm of possibility that Michigan State wins this tournament, this price point shouldn’t warrant any action.

For starters, this MSU team isn’t quite built to win three games in three days. They rely on a lot of minutes from their starters and play a smaller rotation. Furthermore, it’s possible that Michigan State won’t be favored in any of the games mentioned above. Iowa was a 5.5-point favorite in Iowa City while MSU was a 2.5-point favorite in East Lansing. This would suggest that Iowa would be a small favorite on a neutral court.

The Spartans would certainly be underdogs against Purdue. And when you consider how dominant Zach Edey has been in both matchups, it doesn’t seem like MSU has any answers for him or the Boilermakers. As for Northwestern (or Indiana), I’d expect those to be tight spreads as all three teams share similar statistical profiles.

So for Michigan State to win three days in a row as underdogs, we’ll need a much better price than 6-to-1.

To make the Final Four: +1800

There are odds available for Michigan State to make the Final Four even without knowing what the bracket will look like. MSU will avoid playing in the First Four, so a bet on the Spartans to win four games in a row against tournament-quality teams pays 18-to-1. Given the way MSU has played recently, combined with Tom Izzo’s success in getting to the Final Four, I think the price is decent, but still not juicy enough.

Michigan State should be favored in their first-round matchup. But beyond that, barring some major upsets, you’re still probably asking them to win three games in a row as underdogs. But I wouldn’t recommend betting it for an entirely different reason.

Without a bracket in hand, there’s no point in betting on this right now. Getting to the Final Four only requires winning your region. We have no idea what MSU’s region will look like. We have no idea which teams we need to worry about and which teams we can completely ignore regarding this bet. For example, I think a team like Texas is very problematic for Michigan State. But if Texas isn’t in MSU’s region, it’s not a concern regarding the Final Four.

Furthermore, in MSU’s case, it looks like they could be seeded anywhere as low as a seven to as high as a five. That variance is notable when trying to project when MSU may have to beat its toughest opponent. Combined with the draw, that seed could lead to better odds once the bracket is released. It could also lead to worse ones. We just don’t know.

To me, it shouldn’t be bet because we’re only concerned with beating a quarter of the field. Without knowing which teams make up that group, there’s no reason to bet it now.

National champions: +9000

These odds vary by book, but there is a 90-to-1 out there for Michigan State to win the national championship. That’s too high. As mentioned above MSU’s seed possibilities vary, but the most likely outcome is probably a No. 6 seed. They carry the same odds as teams on the No. 8 and No. 9 seed lines such as Maryland, Auburn, Iowa, and West Virginia.

Michigan State is playing its best basketball of the season right now. They are still being priced as the team that we saw in January.

I think there’s value on the Spartans as a national title future for a couple of reasons.

No. 1, their variance as a 3-point shooting team. It’s the great equalizer in basketball. Threes are worth more than twos. Michigan State has four shooters shooting above 40 percent from deep. They can catch fire and shoot their way past anyone.

Second, their guard play. It’s cliche, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. Great guards are vital in March. Michigan State has two with Tyson Walker and A.J. Hoggard.

Third, their free throw shooting. You may be surprised to hear that Michigan State basketball finished the season as the best free throw shooting team in the Big Ten. This is crucial for closing out games and finding points when your shots aren’t falling.

Lastly, it’s Tom Izzo. And it’s March. 90-to-1 odds on an Izzo team in March that is ascending is enough to pique my interest. Yes, this team still has plenty of warts. Their defense has slipped. They don’t have tremendous NBA-type talent. They’ve struggled to protect leads and close games. But again, it’s 90-to-1.

You may be asking how I can recommend a play on a national title but not a Final Four. The difference is winning six games versus four. Those two extra games open up the possibility of playing just about anybody in the field. And we know (largely) who will be in the field. Yes, MSU could potentially have to beat three No. 1 seeds to cut down the nets. They could also face zero. Needing to win six games eliminates the necessity to project because any number of combinations is possible from an outcome standpoint.

But that’s where the price comes into play. At 90-to-1, in a year where there is no dominant team, I think the Spartans are worth a flier. As always, bet responsibly.


Michigan State basketball: Way-too-early projected starting 5 for 2023-24

Next year’s team could be special.



Michigan State basketball
© Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State basketball has officially entered the offseason and now it’s time to predict what next year looks like.

Markquis Nowell will go down in Michigan State basketball history as one of those forbidden names. We will no longer be mentioning the Kansas State guard as he’s now in the same group as Giddy Potts, Boo Buie, Jabari Parker, and Shabazz Napier. We’re just throwing those names out for good.

Now that we got that out of the way, we can move forward and look ahead to next season.

And next season could be special. Michigan State brings back some key players such as Jaden Akins, AJ Hoggard, Mady Sissoko, Jaxon Kohler, Carson Cooper, Tre Holloman, and potentially Pierre Brooks. However, decisions have yet to be officially made for Tyson Walker, Malik Hall, and Joey Hauser, but an elite recruiting class is coming in.

In fact, the Spartans are bringing in one of the best recruiting classes in program history, led by five-star big man Xavier Booker, five-star point guard Jeremy Fears, four-star super-athlete Coen Carr, and four-star athletic sharpshooting wing Gehrig Normand.

The lineup next year should be athletic and the bench will be deep.

But what will the starting five look like, assuming that Hauser is gone? Here’s my best guess:

PG: AJ Hoggard, SR
G: Tyson Walker, SR
G: Jaden Akins, JR
F: Xavier Booker, FR
C: Mady Sissoko, SR

AJ Hoggard will be back for his senior year to lead the team at the point and he might just be the Big Ten’s best at the position. He showed against Kansas State that he can take over a game offensively and I’m looking forward to seeing him take another step in 2023-24.

For my bold prediction: I think we see Walker return. The way the season ended left a sour taste in his mouth and he became one of the best players in the Big Ten. If he gets the green light next year, he could be the Spartans’ go-to- scorer and potentially a Big Ten Player of the Year frontrunner.

Akins’ return is going to be huge for this team as well. If Walker were to leave, he’d assume the role of go-to scorer and I know he’d flourish. But he did play well in a No. 3 option role this season and he’s going to excel as the second option next season. He is the starting five’s top NBA prospect outside of Xavier Booker at the four.

Speaking of Booker, I see him sliding in as the starting power forward much like Jaren Jackson Jr. did as a true freshman. He’s a long, athletic big who can rebound and score in the post and that’s just what was missing this year. While I do think Hall returns and could play the four in a small-ball lineup, I think Tom Izzo brings him off the bench and Booker starts.

Lastly, Mady Sissoko grew a ton this season and I don’t think he’s done getting better. He had his ups and downs and showed how raw he truly was this year, but I think Izzo can mold him into a dominant defensive center. Will he be Oscar Tshiebwe down there? No, but I could see him averaging 2.0 blocks and 7.0-plus rebounds per game next season while continuing his lob-threat ability. Maybe he’ll even develop a post game on offense.

Coming off the bench would be Fears, Hall, Carr, Normand, Holloman, Cooper, and Brooks (assuming he doesn’t hit the portal).

This will be one of the deeper teams that Izzo has ever had and full lineup changes won’t completely crush momentum.

Raise your hand if you’re looking forward to next season.

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Michigan State basketball: Did Tyson Walker hint at return?

Something to monitor.



Michigan State basketball
© Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Tyson Walker might just be teasing us, but he hinted at a return to Michigan State basketball on Instagram.

Now that Michigan State basketball is headed back home after a crushing loss to Kansas State in the Sweet 16, a couple of storylines are going to dominate the offseason.

One, is Tom Izzo going to reach into the transfer portal for some help?

And two, will Tyson Walker, Joey Hauser, or Malik Hall decide to return?

The first question won’t be answered until the second one is and it feels like it’s been one-third answered. Hauser posted somewhat of a farewell on Instagram on Friday with the caption “that’s a wrap” and a green heart emoji. No one was shocked as he was the least likely to return, but it was Walker’s comment on the post that has people raising an eyebrow.

The “idk who I’m going to sit next to on the planes now” comment followed by Houser offering up Jaxon Kohler seems promising. Maybe it’s just two guys having fun with the fans, knowing that emotions are at an all-time high and we will find a way to make every word seem important.

But I’m putting stock in this. It just feels like Walker is leaning more toward coming back because he didn’t even think twice about writing that knowing that people would overreact (like myself).

And Hauser’s response makes it seem even more likely. Like he knows Walker wants to return.

Of course Walker had to post this to calm the rumor mill, but maybe he just let his intentions slip in the original post on Hauser’s Instagram post?

Maybe both guys are just messing around and both Hauser and Walker want to return along with Hall? OK, now I’m going way too far down the “what does this comment mean?” rabbit hole.

Either way, I would venture a guess of Walker returning with Hall while Hauser hangs up the green and white jersey for good.

If that’s the case, it was one heck of a career for Joey and Walker has big things ahead of him in East Lansing.

We can hope.

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Michigan State Basketball: 3 potential 2023-24 lineup options

There will be plenty of options.



Michigan State basketball
© Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Michigan State basketball season came to an unfortunate end yesterday after the devastating overtime loss in the Sweet 16. But what about 2023-24?

That loss is going to sting for at least the next few months. With Tennessee losing as well, the path to the Final Four was Michigan State’s for the taking. Unfortunately, the better team won Thursday night, and it wasn’t Michigan State basketball.

With that being said, there’s a lot of hope and optimism looking forward. Along with the hope, however, comes numerous variables regarding the Spartans’ roster.

Let’s go through a few options Tom Izzo and staff can roll with, roster-wise, in 2023-24.

Option 1: Roll with the roster we have (with a returning member)

  1. A.J. Hoggard/Jeremy Fears
  2. Tyson Walker
  3. Jaden Akins/Coen Carr/Gehrig Normand
  4. Xavier Booker/Jaxon Kohler
  5. Mady Sissoko/Carson Cooper

In option one, Tyson Walker doesn’t want to leave Michigan State with the Kansas State loss looming over him and so he decides to return for one final year. One of the nation’s best guard combinations of AJ Hoggard, Tyson, and Jaden Akins run it back with more experience and more expectations.

Being that Walker returning is the main variable in this scenario rather than a transfer acquisition, Michigan State moves forward with the players and recruits already bought in.

With that being said, Michigan State basketball would be left extremely thin at the four in this scenario. This would force Xavier Booker to step up (a common theme in these scenarios), along with a possible big ball lineup, shifting Jaxon Kohler to the four. With his offensive upside shown this season, but defensive downfalls, this could actually act as a plus.

Option 2: Attack the transfer portal

  1. A.J. Hoggard/Jeremy Fears
  2. Jaden Akins
  3. Transfer Player/Pierre Brooks/Gehrig Normand
  4. Xavier Booker/Coen Carr
  5. Mady Sissoko/Jaxon Kohler

Most fans will be shouting for option two to become reality but, with Tom Izzo’s track record, it’s not as likely.

The variable for option two is Walker, Joey Hauser, and Malik Hall all electing to move on, so Izzo and Co. turn to the well that is the transfer portal. Doing so in the past has seemed to work out with Tyson, so Izzo will be looking to strike gold once again to fill the open wing position.

While there are plenty of names within the portal, the Spartans have been linked to just a few. Six-foot-6 small forward Zack Austin from High Point, 6-foot-5 shooting guard Jace Carter from UIC, and 6-foot-3 combo guard Jayden Taylor from Butler have all been contacted by MSU and would fill the three-guard/small four role well.

Still, MSU would be somewhat light at the four, so the coveted 6-foot-10 freshman Booker would find himself in the starting lineup once again.

The offense would be led by Hoggard, but run through Akins, as he’s proven to be up to the challenge

Option 3: Feed the young bucks

  1. A.J. Hoggard/Jeremy Fears
  2. Jaden Akins/Pierre Brooks
  3. Coen Carr/Gehrig Normand
  4. Xavier Booker/Jaxon Kohler
  5. Mady Sissoko/Carson Cooper

Even less likely than turning to the transfer portal, is option three.

A staple for Tom Izzo-led teams is veteran leadership. It isn’t often a freshman steps in and is given a starting role right away. Think Kalin Lucas, Miles Bridges, or Jaren Jackson Jr. to name a few who were.

In this scenario, not only do Tyson, Hauser, and Hall all move on, but the Spartans also decline to bring in any transfer players. A young starting core would pose a difficult task for Izzo, leading this to being the least likely scenario. I can see plenty of frustration from Hoggard and Akins resulting from the inexperience around them, not to mention a possible second line of Tre Holloman, Pierre Brooks, Jeremy Fears, Gehrig Normand, and Carson Cooper. While it isn’t likely this lineup would see the floor all at the same time, it’s hard to find the trusted go-to guy in that group. MSU is better off avoiding this scenario.

In all reality, Michigan State’s 2024 lineup will likely combine all three of these options. Why choose just one when the most realistic path back to the Final Four is a combination of the three? We will see.

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