We are in that beautiful post-summer season where everyone has gained 20 pounds of muscle or lost 20 pounds of fat. The Spartans are back in the Top Ten and are going to try out a Zone defense, which definitely won’t get kicked out the window after one three-pointer goes down for the opponent. Ted Valentine is no longer officiating BIG Ten games (Which all but guarantees he will be officiating our game against Kansas by the way). Oh, speaking of, we haven’t lost to a top 5 team yet or struggled against a crappy mid-major whom we later find out has CJ McCollum on it.
Yep, College Basketball is back. I am excited, if you are reading this, you are excited, and because we are waiting for Tuesday to come around, I wanted to rattle off some thoughts on lineups that almost definitely won’t play a minute this year.
Cassius Winston, Foster Loyer, Josh Langford, Matt McQuaid, Xavier Tillman
Here is the thing, the only way that this lineup will get in the game let alone stay in a game is if Izzo is coaching blindfolded while strapped down to a chair.
Why it would be fun: Cassius Winston and Matt McQuaid were two of the best spot-up shooters in the Big Ten last year. Curious how good? Winston’s 1.484 Points Per Possession and McQuaid’s 1.26 PPP while spotting up, were both higher than Miles Bridges’s 1.217 PPP last year in transition.
You remember Miles Bridges, right? He was this guy.
Langford looks to have improved his ball-handling this off-season, and with Loyer in the game, that gives this lineup four guys who can run the offense to go with four guys who can knock it down from deep. So, let’s just put four dudes on the floor who can shoot with one guy who can rebound and get weird with it.
Why it wouldn’t be fun: This lineup is going to take a beating defensively. The trio of Winston, Langford, and Loyer are not exactly the Flintstones defensively, and I will never be able to unsee what Grayson Allen did to Matt McQuaid last year. Xavier Tillman is good defensively, but if he gets pulled out of the paint, it will be a layup line (Sidebar, I just imagined this lineup having Jaren Jackson Jr. and began to weep).
It’s been a while since basketball season was a thing, but as I recall Tom Izzo doesn’t love it when the defense gives up easy buckets, and I have a feeling this would be happening in abundance.
Matt McQuaid, Aaron Henry, Kenny Goins, Marcus Bingham, Xavier Tillman
Why it would be fun: *In the most Jay Bilas voice you’ve ever heard* “Wingspan.”
Defensively, the shortest guy you have out there is McQuaid at 6’4, and if Xavier’s weight-loss has improved his quickness, this lineup gets to switch everything. Henry and McQuaid can both be inside their assignments socks, while Bingham has inspector gadget arms that can disrupt passes and shots from the bench. Tillman is not giving up any position down low, and if Kenny has a healthy knee, he can chase people around and rebound the crap out of the ball. These guys are not going to allow many second chances for whatever offense is lucky enough to go up against them. On top of that, if a game of Red-Rover breaks out, there is no lineup more equipped.
Why it wouldn’t be fun: Offensively the lane is going to be clogged, and outside of McQuaid, there aren’t any proven shooters in this lineup so scoring could be a problem. Tillman and Goins are both good offensive rebounders, Henry probably will be too, which is important because I don’t think a lot of shot making will be going on. Is that enough to counter-act the best shooter in this lineup spending his time creating shots for others, instead of playing off the ball? Probably not, but who cares it would be fun to watch them play defense.
Foster Loyer, Aaron Henry, Gabe Brown, Thomas Kithier, Marcus Bingham
Why it would be fun: I am not sure I can imagine anything funnier than Izzo on the bench with this lineup out there. The number of gifs and memes that would be created based on his facial expressions and courtside antics must be 15 per minute. It would be worth burning any potential redshirts without question.
Why it wouldn’t be fun: Freshman
Basketball is at its best when possibilities are infinite. That is why people love College Basketball, that is why people love March Madness. Anything can happen, and that’s why this is my favorite time of the year. Until March anyway.
Welcome back to College Basketball.
Go Green, Go White, Go SBS… (You thought it too)