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Michigan State basketball is alive and well again

Michigan State is back.



Michigan State basketball
© Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

After what felt like a two-year hiatus from being relevant, Michigan State basketball is alive and well again.

It’s the thought that had been in the back of everyone’s mind for the past year and a half.  The question that needed to be asked, that nobody wanted to answer honestly. Had the Michigan State basketball program started to regress? Was this the beginning of the end for the greatest coach this school has ever seen?

Beyond the records, it was the results that were troubling. It was who the Spartans were losing to and how they were losing. The traits that allowed this program to surge in the past 25 years were beginning to fade. The conference that Michigan State has been the big boy in for two decades was chewing them up and spitting them out. For so much of this 2022-23 season, it became almost impossible to see it any other way.

But in a little over 48 hours this past weekend, all of those thoughts were put on hold.

This group of Michigan State Spartans found themselves this weekend in Columbus. Their victories on Friday and Sunday were vintage Michigan State NCAA Tournament basketball. The Spartans were tougher, hungrier, and more focused in both games.

They got out to fast starts in both games – outscoring USC and Marquette 37-21 in the first 10 minutes. In both games, they also saw those leads evaporate. And in both games, they kept their heads, executed in the biggest spots, and finished stronger than they started. In the last 10 minutes of both games, Michigan State outscored their opponents 45-31.

Winning in March is no accident. Sure, maybe you can shoot your way past someone or get lucky with a dreadful night from your opponent. But winning in this tournament is not given – it’s earned. MSU earned both of these victories the old-fashioned, hard way.

The Spartans hit a total of seven 3-pointers across two games this weekend. The best 3-point shooting team in the B1G was -33 this weekend in 3-point shooting margin.

But in true MSU postseason fashion, it didn’t matter.

These Spartans got back to the roots of the program. Defense. Rebounding. Running. Three characteristics that these Spartans haven’t excelled in all season became strengths this weekend.

Michigan State held USC and Marquette to 0.90 and 0.92 points per possession, while also winning the battle on the boards in both games. But beyond the numbers, MSU played with an intensity that we hadn’t seen before. Tom Izzo is getting all the love for his emphatic fist pump in the final minutes of Sunday’s win. But I’ve always felt that Izzo’s energy is a direct representation of the energy his team has. His emotions told me that the emotions of this team were just as intense – if not even more so.

People talk a lot about culture. It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot. It’s difficult to define. It means something different to everyone. Michigan State basketball’s program culture was on full display on Sunday.

Year after year in this tournament, Michigan State’s upperclassmen show up when their number is called. Culture is Tyson Walker finishing through contact after struggling with it early in his MSU career. Culture is Malik Hall grabbing the biggest offensive rebound of the season after battling through injuries and offensive struggles. Culture is Mady Sissoko sticking with it all to give a relentless defensive and rebounding effort to block two shots late. Culture is seeing how much it meant to Izzo to see this group advance.

Some might call it poetic. Some might call it lucky. But winning in this tournament is no accident. It’s a representation of what you’re made of. It’s as much about believing in yourself, and each other as it is about being better than your opponent. Michigan State, under Izzo, has figured out how to do this better than anyone. How else do you explain the 16 wins as the lower-seeded team? How else do you explain a 24-8 record in the back half of an NCAA tournament weekend? It’s Izzo’s culture and his unwavering belief in his own guys.

From here – we’ll see where things go. Who knows, maybe the fun is just getting started. For now, though, this weekend was a reminder to everyone that Michigan State basketball is still alive and doing just fine… once again.


Writer says there’s a huge gap between Purdue and Michigan State basketball

This seems like a wild claim.



Michigan State basketball
© Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Gregg Doyel of the Indy Star claims that Purdue is “historically loaded” and there’s a huge gap between them and Michigan State basketball.

With the news of Jaden Akins and AJ Hoggard returning along with Tyson Walker and Malik Hall to go along with the No. 4 recruiting class in the country, Michigan State basketball went from a conference title contender to a national title contender.

Essentially everyone who follows college basketball has Michigan State as a top-five team and right there in the Big Ten as 1B to Purdue’s 1A — some even have it the other way around.

The Spartans bring back everyone but Joey Hauser to a team that went to the Sweet 16 and Purdue returns national player of the year Zach Edey to a Big Ten title team. Both teams are loaded and should be at the top of everyone’s list when it comes to national title contention.

But one Indy Star writer believes that Purdue is “historically loaded” and the talent-and-depth gap between the Boilermakers and “everyone else” is as large as he’s seen in years. Just a wild claim.

Gregg Doyel cites a solid incoming class to go along with Edey returning and the two freshmen guards with another year in the system. But he fails to recognize that Michigan State got even better. The Spartans are bringing in an even better recruiting class and they return their 2-3 most talented players from a year ago. The only loss is Hauser.

Saying that this year’s Purdue team is far-and-away the most talented and deepest team in the Big Ten and the gap is the biggest it’s been in years is asinine. There was a much larger gap last year.

Michigan State will go toe-to-toe with the Boilermakers and as long as Edey can be neutralized, the Spartans will have a chance to take them down for the Big Ten crown.

It’s tough to say a team like Michigan State basketball that’s 11-12 guys deep is not nearly as talented or deep as Purdue, but hey, let’s put that early chip on the shoulder.

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Michigan State Basketball: Allocating guard minutes for 2023-24

A lot of guards, not a lot of minutes to be had.



Michigan State basketball
© Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State basketball has an absolutely loaded backcourt heading into 2023-24. Let’s allocate the guard minutes.

Michigan State basketball has a loaded backcourt with the news of AJ Hoggard and Jaden Akins returning next season. Add this on top of Tyson Walker coming back and Michigan State adding a four-star point guard in Jeremy Fears just loads up this back court even more.

Let’s take a look at what the minute allocation could look like between the five guards on the roster.


The starting point guard is clearly set into place with AJ Hoggard starting 33 of 34 games last year. Next year’s team still goes as Hoggard goes and he will most likely average 28-30 minutes per game. AJ being able to defend multiple positions allows him to play alongside any of the other three guards on the roster next year. He should average around 15 points per game and six-plus assists. Him being able to increase his 3-point percentage up to 35 percent next year should help his scoring dramatically.

The starting shooting guard is Walker who started in all 34 games last season and nothing will change this season. This team is going to rely plenty on Tyson to begin the season as this team continues to mesh with all of the different lineups. He played almost 34 minutes per game this season due to injuries and necessity. Tyson will take a step back and only play 30-32 minutes this upcoming season. He will look to average 16-plus points per game and 2.5-plus assists.


This may come as a surprise, but I believe the backup point guard role will fall to Tre Holloman. He has a year under the belt with the system and should take a step forward in his role. He is able to defend either guard position allowing him to play with any of the other four guards on the team. Holloman will play anywhere between 8-12 minutes per game and will look to be in a more featured role running the backup offense. Tre should average 3-5 points per game and 1.5 assists.

Jeremy Fears will fill in and be able to learn from a loaded backcourt while playing 6-8 minutes per game which could be pushed to 8-10 by the end of the season. Fears defense should rival what Walker brings to this team with this second group. Fears offensive role will look like Tre’s freshman year and not looked upon much offensively. He should look to average 1.5-plus points and one assist per game.

Finally, Jaden Akins will fill in anywhere from 2-5 minutes at the two-guard spot. He can help fill an offensive role when Tyson is out of the game and can handle some of the pick and roll duties in this spot. Akins will mostly play on the wing as he started 25 games there last season. He is a guard, but he’ll be forced into playing on the wing.

Minutes Summary

  • AJ Hoggard: 28-30 per game
  • Tyson Walker: 30-32 per game
  • Tre Holloman: 8-12 per game
  • Jeremy Fears: 6-8 per game
  • Jaden Akins: 2-5 per game

Akins did tweet this out the other day:

So he could see more ball-handling duties.

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Jeremy Fears makes final cut for U19 USA Basketball team

Jeremy Fears could represent USA Basketball again.



Jeremy Fears
© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Incoming Michigan State freshman Jeremy Fears has made the final cut for the U19 USA Basketball team.

Incoming Michigan State basketball freshman Jeremy Fears is hard at work this summer. He is currently in the process of trying to make the final roster for the U19 USA Basketball team. Thirty-five athletes have been selected to participate in their upcoming training camp, and Fears is included on that list.

Training camp for these 35 athletes with take place June 11-18. Twelve players will then be selected to participate in the FIBA U19 Wold Cup at the conclusion of this training camp. The World Cup takes place from June 24 through July 2.

The 35 players consist of some athletes in the 2022 class that have one year of college ball under their belts. The pool of players also consists of athletes from the 2023 incoming freshmen class and the 2024 class who will be high school seniors. More than half of these participants have USA Basketball experience and ten of them have won gold for the USA already.

Jeremy Fears’ USA Basketball history

Jeremy Fears is one of the 10 players mentioned to have already won gold for the USA. In fact, Fears has won a gold medal twice. He won the 2021 U16 FIBA Championships and in 2022 won gold in the U17 FIBA World Cup.

Based on this history alone, I love his chances to make the team again. The USA Basketball program is obviously very familiar with him already which gives him an advantage. Also, why wouldn’t they want someone who has won two gold medals to play for them again?

Fears has yet to move in to East Lansing like some of his fellow members of his freshman class have. He likely will see this event out before moving to campus to start gearing up for the regular season. Michigan State has had many athletes compete with team USA in the past, so Tom Izzo is more than happy to let his players participate.

For the full USA Basketball press release, click here.

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