The beauty and agony of the NCAA tournament is that there are no do-overs. You don’t get seven games to get it right, you get 40 minutes. It’s do-or-die and one mistake can cost you everything. So when your team (Michigan State basketball) loses in overtime, all you can think about for the next week is what could have been.
Then when that wears off, you start thinking about next year. You think about the roster, the rest of the Big Ten, and how yesterday’s mistakes can be cleaned up in the offseason.
The national media will do the same and try to predict how next season will play out. The result is a “way-too-soon” ranking of college basketball teams. These are fun to look at if you’re a college basketball fan but aren’t the gospel on how the season will play out.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of having Michigan State show up on many of these lists, some as high as No. 3 and as low as No. 13.
Pro: This is based on having a talented team
The 2023-24 team, on paper, has the perfect mix of veterans and youngbloods.
The older players may have fewer stars in their recruiting profile, but their experiences, especially getting to the Sweet 16 this year, will perfectly complement the four and five-star newbies bursting with potential.
Look at the last few national champions: UConn’s starting five consisted of a freshman, a sophomore, two juniors, and a senior. Kansas’ team had a sophomore, two juniors, and two seniors. Baylor’s team had a wild combo of three juniors and two seniors.
ESPN has the Spartans’ projected starting lineup as two freshmen, a junior, and two seniors and that’s based on Tyson Walker leaving. Add him to the mix and it’s one freshman, a junior, and three seniors. That is awfully similar to the national title formula. It’s the same reason Kentucky and Memphis aren’t in the title game every year.
Talent, while important, cannot win a title alone.