Insider knows you're hot for hoops during the summer, so we're bringing you a closer look at a few of the big-profile schools before most freshmen have even moved into their dorms. We continue today with Michigan State.
28-9 (NCAA tournament -- Final Four)
Believe it or not, LeBron James does not have a monopoly on "Decisions" this summer. About a month earlier, Rust Belt basketball fans leaned in toward their TVs to hear Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo announce his future intentions. Though Izzo believed James would return to Cleveland, the coach passed on the Cavs' coaching offer anyway and returned to East Lansing.
After a sigh of relief from Sparty's supporters and a group hug from his players at the podium, things should look awfully familiar for Michigan State in 2010-11. The Spartans return eight of their nine leading scorers from last season, including a star point guard in Kalin Lucas, who probably could have turned pro had he not come up lame at season's end.
The talent and depth of the returning roster, plus Izzo's tournament touch, makes Michigan State an instant favorite for the Final Four. But despite all the good news, a slew of injuries and a possible player defection could leave the Spartans limping into the bear trap that is the loaded Big Ten. Perhaps that's why, for all the positives, Izzo believes the Purdue Boilermakers, and not his Spartans, are the conference favorite this season.
"People can pick us, pick them, but I think they're going to be the team to beat," Izzo says. "It'll be interesting to see who survives with so much on the line. We have everything we can chew and more this season."