Tough news for Michigan State as they lose Delvon Roe, the team's central defensive presence last season. The knee injuries he's had have just been too much. Roe was a big time player last year: he had 8.5 rebounds per 40 minutes played and was third among all Big Ten returners in blocks per minute.
The good news for Michigan State is that even without Roe they should still be deep in the frontcourt. Their most important big is Draymond Green, and he's got another year of eligibility. Derrick Nix, Garrick Sherman and Adreian Payne are back as well. Alex Gauna (who redshirted last season) will join the team, and their top recruit is swing forward Branden Dawson.
But the bad news begins with that same frontcourt, which is offensively poor. Of all of the players listed in that last paragraph, only Delvon Roe and Draymond Green had Pomeroy offensive efficiencies of over 100 last season.
Last year's offense ran through the backcourt, and it's going to be that way again. Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers are gone, but Keith Appling is going to be a very good player, and the addition of Brandon Wood was possibly the most underrated move of the offseason nationwide. Russell Byrd, Brandon Kearney and Travis Trice are three newcomers (Byrd was in the 2010 recruiting class but redshirted) to look out for as well.
Michigan State drastically underperformed last season, but they're still talented. The big question mark, particularly with Roe gone, will be post production. As good as Brandon Wood is, he's no Kalin Lucas. Can Derrick Nix, Adreian Payne or Garrick Sherman fill Delvon Roe's role? If I had to bet on one of them I'd bet on Derrick Nix, but there are no sure things here.
After Brandon Wood joined the team I said that I could see Michigan State seriously challenging for third place in the Big Ten. Ohio State should be the best team in the Big Ten, by far, with Wisconsin in a clear second. Michigan's getting a lot of hype preseason, but I'm not on the bandwagon yet. Purdue is going to contend, and Michigan State still can as well.
Can the Spartans still finish third in the Big Ten? Yes. But could they end up back on the Tournament bubble for the second straight year? Definitely.