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Summer Buzz: Michigan State Spartans

Distractions gone, Tom Izzo's crew will run another gauntlet in 2011-12

Updated: August 3, 2011, 10:38 AM ET
By Mike Hume | ESPN Insider

Insider knows you're hot for hoops during the summer, so we're bringing you a closer look at a few of the nation's most intriguing programs before most freshmen have even moved into their dorms. We continue with the Michigan State Spartans. To get the offseason scoop on 24 other high-profile teams, click here.

Michigan State Spartans

2010-11: 19-14 (NCAA tournament -- Round of 64)

Injuries have unraveled even the stoutest of college hoops contenders. Locker room distractions have likewise short circuited more than a few seasons. Mix the two factors fouling up last season's Spartans, then put the team through the meat grinder that was the nation's toughest schedule in 2010-11, and Michigan State had a blue-ribbon recipe for disaster. Instead, Tom Izzo's crew managed to squeeze some lemonade out of the lemons, eking out an NCAA berth and closing the season with a 19-14 record.

Still, for a fan base anticipating a possible third Final Four appearance in three seasons, things could have gone down a little sweeter. Nearly five months after Sparty's elimination at the hands of the UCLA Bruins, the distractions -- Izzo's NBA offer, the transfers of Chris Allen and Korie Lucious -- have disappeared. The injuries -- Russell Byrd's bum foot and Delvon Roe's latest ankle woes -- are on the mend. The schedule? Well, that's another story.

"I'm as dumb as I am every year," says Izzo, whose team will square off against national title favorite North Carolina on the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego four days before battling Duke in Madison Square Garden. "To be honest, I was hoping those three guys from Carolina would be in the NBA. But that didn't happen, so my next concern is making sure we don't jump off the aircraft carrier."

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