The Michigan St. Spartans haven't lost a game since back-to-back defeats against two teams in the top five to start the season, making them one of the hottest teams in college basketball. Coach Tom Izzo's squad will look to continue that streak on Thursday when they host the Lehigh Mountain Hawks in East Lansing.
Three players are averaging double-digits this season, led by Draymond Green's 15.4 points per game, but the Spartans have been leaning on their defense for the majority of their victories. That fact surprised the experts over at The Only Colors.
While I would have certainly predicted a slow start for an inexperienced Spartan team on the offensive end, I would never imagined the team would be this good, and this consistent, on defense right out of the gate--particularly considering the team unexpectedly lost its best defender only a month before the season began. The biggest factor here (among several)? The high level of defensive proficiency Adreian Payne has displayed in his increased minutes on the floor. KenPom calculates that the second most comparable individual season to Payne's current campaign in the entire database is . . . Delvon Roe as a sophomore.
The game is scheduled for a 9 p.m. tip-off and can be watched on TV by tuning into ESPNU. The Spartans next game won't take place until next Wednesday when they play the Indiana Hoosiers in the Big Ten conference opener.