Michigan State basketball has the highest expectations of any team in the country heading into 2019-20. What can we expect from this team?
The Michigan State Spartans are coming into this new basketball season as the No. 1 team in the country. That has never happened before. They have been No. 2 a couple of times in the preseason polls but never No. 1.
They are returning a some elite talent including All-American point guard Cassius Winston and rising star Xavier Tillman. What are the realistic expectations for this team in 2019-20?
Along with being the No. 1 team in the country in the preseason, the Spartans are also the favorite to win the Big Dance come March. They have the talent to do so but will they have the will power to make it back to the Final Four and get to the championship game to win it all this season?
When the Spartans have been favorites to win it all, such as the 2015-16 season when they were upset in the first round by Middle Tennessee State, they seem to falter. What a devastating loss and end to the season that was. Or there was the 2017-18 season where they had an All-American player in Miles Bridges and was expected to go far in the tournament but could not make it out of the second round with a loss to Syracuse.
However, when you have Michigan State teams that were not expected go far and had less talent with lower expectations, the team ends up making improbable runs — like the 2014-15 squad, led by Travis Trice.
Knowing this, what are some likely expectations to have for the 2019-20 Spartan basketball team moving forward?
The biggest expectation will be to be cutting down the nets at the end of the year when they win the NCAA Tournament. The Spartans have the talent and the experience to do just that but can they make it that far with everything on their shoulders?
One certain expectation is winning the Big Ten outright this year. If everyone stays healthy on this MSU squad, it will be the best in the Big Ten. The other teams in the conference will will be good but they will not be quite as good as they have been in recent years so with the team the Spartans have then they should win the Big Ten.
Raising another banner winning the Big Ten Tournament will also be something to look forward to. Again this team is the most experienced and best in the conference so they should be able to take down everyone in their path during the Big Ten Tournament.
Player expectations will be something to watch throughout the season as well.
Winston should be the best player in the country. He’s the best distributor there is in college basketball and he has the best vision and knows when to speed it up and slow it down when it comes to tempo. Barring a setback, he will be on the Wooden Award watch list list all season long. He plays a mad game to be respected and will lead this team to victories. Cassius is also on the watch to become the first player to have 2,000 points and 1,000 assists in his college career.
Rocket Watts will have all eyes on him this season to see how he performs. Will he be able to take over for Cassius next season when he leaves. We know from watching his high school games he can ball but can he transpose that into the college game as well as he did in high school? His scoring will be needed this season.
Joshua Langford will also have eyes on him. His expectations are high coming off an injury-riddled season — he went down in December and never returned. He’s back but will he be able to produce like he did before his injury? Can he be the Spartans’ best defender moving forward? Tom Izzo prides himself on having one of the nation’s stingiest defenses and Langford will be called upon heavily because of his abilities on that end of the floor.
Expectations are high this season and the fans do not want to see another upset. Cassius and Co. will look to prove to the doubters wrong that they can do well with having this weight on their shoulders. They will win the Big Ten regular season and conference tournament titles. They are everyone’s favorite to win the Big Dance and look for bring Izzo his second national championship home, raising more banners in the Breslin Center.