Busting Brackets

Michigan State Basketball: Are Spartans trending upward or downward as a program?

Michigan State Spartans' A.J. Hoggard (11) Mady Sissoko (22), Tyson Walker (2) and forward Malik Hall (25) during the 69-60 win over Marquette in the second round of the NCAA tournament in Columbus, Ohio, March 19, 2023.Msumarq 031923 Kd6623 MSU huddle
Michigan State Spartans' A.J. Hoggard (11) Mady Sissoko (22), Tyson Walker (2) and forward Malik Hall (25) during the 69-60 win over Marquette in the second round of the NCAA tournament in Columbus, Ohio, March 19, 2023.Msumarq 031923 Kd6623 MSU huddle /
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Michigan State Basketball
Michigan State Basketball head coach Tom Izzo Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /

Michigan State basketball has experienced a roller coaster ride of ups and downs over the past three seasons. When comparing these past three seasons to the previous three seasons prior to those seasons which occurred during the 2017-2018, 2018-19, and 2019-2020 seasons, it’s clear that this program has underachieved these past three seasons in comparison to what they accomplished the three seasons prior.

However, the Spartans have a very positive outlook going into the 2023-24 season. Let’s though begin looking at the past six seasons of Michigan State basketball and finally would are the expectations for the 2023-2024 season.

2017-2018 Season

In 2017-2018, Michigan State was and still is considered a college basketball powerhouse and or a blue-blood program as the season concluded, finishing with a 30-5 overall record and winning the Big Ten regular-season championship. Miles Bridges was considered the star of the team that season and a potential future NBA lottery pick, leading the Spartans in points and rebounds per game. Also on that team was Michigan State legendary point guard Cassius Winston who led the team in assists, future top-three NBA draft pick Jaren Jackson Jr, and other key Spartans making that season’s team arguably the deepest Michigan State team in years.

Season Accomplishments

Winning the PK80 Invitational: Michigan State started the season by winning the Phil Knight Invitational in Portland, Oregon. They defeated UConn and DePaul and then took down a talented North Carolina team in the championship game.

Beating Notre Dame in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge: Michigan State beat Notre Dame 81-63 in the annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge, which showcased the team’s depth and talent.

Defeating No. 3 ranked Purdue: Miles Bridges’ memorable dunk over Purdue, in the game against Purdue, Miles Bridges had one of the most memorable dunks of the season. He drove down the lane and soared over Purdue’s center for a thunderous slam as the Spartans defeated the Boilermakers by three.

Winning the Big Ten regular-season championship: Michigan State finished the Big Ten season with a 16-2 record, clinching the regular-season title outright. It was their first regular season championship since 2012.

Season Outcome

The team was poised for a deep run in the NCAA tournament, but they were shocked in the second round by 11th-seeded Syracuse by being defeated by the Orange on what was considered a relative home-court advantage with the game being played in the city of Detroit. It was a disappointing end to a season that had so much promise and potential.

Although the team fell short in the NCAA tournament, losing to Syracuse in the second round, the 2017-2018 season was filled with memorable moments and showcased the talent and potential of the Michigan State basketball program.

2018-2019 Season

The 2018-2019 Michigan State basketball season was a highly successful one for the Spartans, as they compiled an impressive overall record of 32-7 and won both the Big Ten regular-season championship and the Big Ten Tournament title as well. Led by Hall of Fame head coach Tom Izzo, the team boasted a talented and experienced roster that was able to overcome numerous obstacles throughout the year to emerge as one of the top teams in the country.

One of the key highlights of the season was the emergence of Cassius Winston as one of the best point guards in the nation. Winston, a junior, averaged 18.8 points and 7.5 assists per game and was named the Big Ten Player of the Year and a consensus All-American. He was also named the Most Outstanding Player of the Big Ten Tournament, where he led the Spartans to a thrilling victory over rival Michigan in the championship game.

Another standout player for Michigan State was forward Nick Ward, who averaged 14.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Despite missing several games due to injury, Ward was a dominant force in the paint when he was on the court, and his presence was a key factor in the team’s success.

Season Accomplishments

Winning the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational: Michigan State began the season by winning the Las Vegas Invitational in Las Vegas, Nevada. They beat UCLA and took down a previously undefeated Texas team in the championship game. The Spartans also in non-conference play won an impressive road game at Florida.

Michigan State swept Iowa and defeated Wisconsin and Michigan:  During Big Ten conference play, they also defeated Ohio State on the road as well as beating Maryland and Purdue at home.

Regular Season Big Ten Champions: The Spartans clinched their fifth regular-season Big Ten championship in the past eleven years. They finished the regular season with a conference record of 16-4 and an overall record of 25-6.

Big Ten Tournament Champions: Michigan State won the Big Ten Tournament championship by defeating Michigan in the final game. This was the third time in the past six years that the Spartans had won the tournament.

Cassius Winston named Big Ten Player of the Year: Junior point guard Cassius Winston was named the Big Ten Player of the Year after averaging 18.8 points and 7.5 assists per game. Winston was also named a consensus First Team All-American.

Tom Izzo named Big Ten Coach of the Year: Head coach Tom Izzo was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year for the eighth time in his career. Izzo led the Spartans to a successful season despite facing several key injuries throughout the year.

Season Outcome

In the NCAA Tournament, the Spartans continued their strong play, They faced tough opponents in each round, including Bradley, Minnesota, and LSU. They defeated all three opponents to advance to the Elite Eight.

In the Elite Eight, the Spartans faced a very talented team in Duke who was the tournament’s top-seeded team and featured several future NBA players, including Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, and Cam Reddish. The game was a closely contested battle, with Michigan State pulling ahead in the final minutes to secure the victory. The Spartans Elite Eight win against Duke was one of the biggest highlights of the season as Michigan State won with a final score of 68-67. The Spartans advanced to the Final Four for the eighth time in program history. Unfortunately for Michigan State, the Spartans lost to a tough and defensive-minded team in Texas Tech.

Overall, the 2018-2019 Michigan State basketball season was a memorable one for Spartan fans, filled with impressive performances and thrilling moments. The team’s success was a testament to their talent, hard work, and determination, and they will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the top college basketball teams of that year.