Putting all of our offseason and exhibition season stuff in one place so it's easy to find and all the comments can be together.
MSU opens the season against McNeese State on Friday night, but that's another BTN.com game. The first glimpse many of you will get of this team will be Tuesday in a 1 vs. 2. matchup with Kentucky. Should be a fun one.
As you all know, MSU needs to make the Final Four this season to continue its streak of every four-year player under Tom Izzo reaching one. Keith Appling and Adreian Payne are the two seniors. MSU is ranked No. 2 in the AP and Coaches Poll and the pick to win the Big Ten.
This is a veteran roster with several NBA prospects. Sophomore Gary Harris and Payne look like first-round picks. Junior Branden Dawson has the athletic ability to play in the NBA, after recovering from a torn ACL last offseason, but is looking to have a more complete skillset. After dealing with a brain infection and several injuries, it appears Travis Trice is finally healthy. The hope is both Dawson and Trice can make that "sophomore jump" in their junior years.
As for an actual sophomore jump, Matt Costello appears to be the fifth starter in the rotation at center, while Denzel Valentine showed signs of brilliance, but was also had a problem with turnovers. Elsewhere, Alex Gauna, Russell Byrd, Kenny Kaminski, Gavin Schilling and Alvin Ellis are hoping to get some minutes at the end of the rotation. With star players around him, Appling doesn't need to carry this team, but he will be a vital piece if MSU is to go far in March.
Izzo will want to run. MSU will run sometimes. They probably won't run much in the Big Ten. Let's just get that out of the way.
The nonconference schedule includes showcase games against Kentucky, North Carolina and Georgetown. The Big Ten may not have as many "top" teams, but the bottom is as strong as ever and will be very difficult to navigate.
Boundless optimism, scatterplotted - Reasons to be excited
Basketball #B1G, deconstructed - A new KenPom stat and what it says about Big Ten tempo.
Meeting expectations - My Freep column on how MSU needs high expectations to win big, bucking the belief that MSU is better as an underdog.
MSU backcourt - An in-depth preview from Big Ten Powerhouse