Stopped in the office for a few minutes yesterday and one of our very talented page designers, the only OP staffer who loves college basketball as much as I do, was discussing Michigan State's title hopes in the immediate future. He said he'd be disappointed if the Spartans don't win a championship sometime in the next three years, which got me thinking ...
I look at MSU's current roster and see a top-10 team, easy. If they win the Big Ten, they'll be in line for a one or two seed and a second-weekend trip to Ford Field. Drew Neitzel and Drew Naymick will be gone in 2008, but considering who's back and who's coming (Delvon Roe, Draymond Green and Korie Lucious) there's little doubt they'll be a Final Four contender. Knowing the caliber of recruit they're in on for '09, even if Roe and Raymar Morgan are early NBA entries, it's not out of line to dream of another turn-of-the-millenium run.
That said, national championships are not easy to come by. Duke just signed a star-studded three-person class and could add three top-10 players this year. North Carolina, the early-season favorites to cut down the nets in San Antonio, might ink the top two players in the '08 class. UCLA has locked up talent-rich California (even if USC is riding the O.J. wave). And Florida, Kentucky, Louisville, Memphis, Ohio State and Indiana are in on just as many blue-chip talents as MSU.
I point these facts out not to be a hater - I really do think MSU has some bright years ahead so long as Tom Izzo stays in town - but to temper expectations a little. The Spartans might very well have one of the brightest futures around, but in no way, shape or form does that guarantee them a national title. If Morgan has a great year, it's not far-fetched to believe Morgan he could turn pro after the season. Roe could be one-and-done. And as great as MSU's '09 recruiting class could be, no one knows what the future holds for Dexter Strickland or Jamil Wilson or Richard Howell or DaShonte Riley.
MSU basketball has spoiled us in a lot of ways. I'd be disappointed if the Spartans didn't make it back to the Final Four this year or next, but my crystal ball doesn't do titles. What about you? What are your expectations for Spartan basketball?