Harris key to Michigan State

With Draymond Green gone, Keith Appling will give MSU some leadership in the backcourt. Mike Carter/US Presswire

Leading up to Midnight Madness in October, ESPN Insider's "Countdown to Madness" series is previewing the top five seeds in each of the four regions in Joe Lunardi's preseason 2013 NCAA bracket. To read about the key stats and freshman impact for each team as the previews are published, plus get expert predictions from Jay Bilas, Fran Fraschilla and Lunardi, click here. This is the entry for the Michigan State Spartans, No. 2 in the West (Los Angeles).

The key: Replacing Green on D

Stat to know: 29 percent

Last season I had this nagging feeling people were underestimating and overlooking the outstanding defense being played by Michigan State. So recently I decided to call Tom Izzo to get his thoughts.

As usual, Izzo didn't mince words. "You're right," he said last week. "We were damn good." Now the question is whether that level of D can continue without Draymond Green in the lineup.