Michigan State's 'old' advantage

Appling, Payne key to Spartans getting back to the Final Four

Updated: June 5, 2013, 1:08 PM ET
By John Gasaway | ESPN Insider

Tom Izzo and Keith ApplingGregory Shamus/Getty ImagesTom Izzo's counting on senior Keith Appling, who averaged 13.4 points and 3.3 assists last season.

We here at Insider recently went to some lengths to analyze the "freshman impact" that Division I's top recruits will have this coming season. Yet in all those thousands of words on national title contenders, there was one team we didn't discuss at all: Michigan State. And with good reason.

In 2013-14, the Spartans will make their impact felt in a decidedly different fashion, as "old" guys such as sophomore Gary Harris feature prominently for Tom Izzo's team.

[+] EnlargeGary Harris
Scott W. Grau/Icon SMIGary Harris could have been an NBA lottery pick, but he chose to return to MSU for his sophomore season.

If you've been reading along with me for a while, you know that I like to measure a team's experience in terms of the percentage of "possession minutes" that its roster returns from the previous season. This percentage measures not only how much playing time a group of veterans recorded last season, it also speaks to how much of a load those returnees carried on offense. So believe me when I say that Michigan State bringing back no less than 86 percent of the possession minutes from a team that was a 2013 NCAA tournament No. 3 seed testifies to an abundance of both experience and ability.


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