Mississippi State Basketball: Examining the Michigan State Spartans

Mississippi State basketball takes on Michigan State in the First Round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Let's take a look at the Spartans.
Michigan State guard A.J. Hoggard and teammates take the court before first half against Purdue at
Michigan State guard A.J. Hoggard and teammates take the court before first half against Purdue at / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

The First Round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament gets underway on Thursday, and the day's action begins with Mississippi State basketball taking on the Michigan State Spartans in Charlotte. The 8-seed Bulldogs (21-13) are in the Big Dance for the second-straight year under HC Chris Jans, and this is the first time in program history that they'll play Tom Izzo's legendary program in the tournament.

The 9-seed Spartans haven't had quite the season fans expect from the blue blood program, but they're still in the tournament. And if there's any coach who knows how to get the most out of a team in March, it's Tom Izzo. This will be a great battle in the First Round.

Let's get to know Michigan State basketball.

Michigan State basketball overview

Head Coach: Tom Izzo, 29th season (706-294)

  • 10x Big Ten Regular Season Champion
  • 6x Big Ten Tournament Champion
  • 27-straight NCAA Tournament appearances
  • Eight Final Four appearances
  • 2000 National Champions

2024 Record: 19-14 (10-10)

NET: 24

KenPom: 19

Best Wins: Baylor, Illinois

Worst Losses: Minnesota, Indiana

Michigan State basketball 2024 season review

Michigan State began the year as the preseason #4 team but were stunned at home in their season opener by a James Madison squad that now is a trendy mid-major pick to make a deep run in this tournament. Sparty feel in big non-conference matchups with Duke and Arizona but were dominant in a win over Baylor.

The Spartans finished 10-10 in Big Ten play. They nabbed an impressive win over Illinois, but the only other future tournament team they defeated in conference play was Northwestern. None of their losses came to sub-100 NET teams, but they struggled to get wins over the leagues best teams and fell to some in the middle of the pack.

Michigan State went 1-1 in the Big Ten Tournament, beating Minnesota by 10 before losing to NCAA Tournament 1-seed Purdue by five. The Spartans proved to be competitive with the Big Ten's best throughout the season, but outside of their win over the Illini, they couldn't get over the top in those games.

Scouting Michigan State basketball

The Spartans are at their best on the defensive end of the court. They rate 9th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency per KenPom. They've held opponents to 66 PPG on just 41% shooting and 33% from three.

Michigan State is solid on the offensive end. At 73 PPG, they don't light up the scoreboard, but they're an efficient shooting team at 46% from the floor. They're a bit throwback in nature in that they utilize a true mid-range game on offense and don't take many threes, though they're highly efficient from deep at 36%. They also do a great job of taking care of the basketball.

Guard Tyson Walker is the best all-around scorer on the team at 18.2 PPG. Forward Malik Hall averages 12.6 and a team-leading 5.6 rebounds. AJ Hoggard leads in assists with 5.2 and provides 11 PPG. Jaden Akins if the fourth in double-figures with 10, and Tre Holloman is a good three-point shooter off the bench.

The clearest weakness from Sparty is at center. They haven't had a single reliable option at the five all season. It's required their offense to be fully-reliant on shot-making from their guards and Hall. It's also hurt their rebounding and post defense. Opposing bigs have had big days against them.

How Mississippi State basketball matches up with Michigan State

This shapes up to be a tightly contested battle. Both teams play really good defense. Josh Hubbard might be the most explosive scorer on the court, but Michigan State has the better guard play as a team, which tends to be a big key in March.

Mississippi State does, however, have a massive advantage down low with Tolu Smith, Jimmy Bell, and Cam Matthews. All three of those players could be primed for big days. If they show out and the Bulldogs can contain the Spartan backcourt, Mississippi State basketball can get the win.

Mississippi State and Michigan State will tip-off at 11:15 am CT on CBS.