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Michigan State trending down in Joe Lunardi's latest NCAA Tournament projection

The Spartans have something to prove on the hardwood...

Michigan State men's basketball had a difficult couple months after their 2021-22 season ended with a loss to Duke in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

As expected, seniors Gabe Brown and Marcus Bingham Jr. declined the option to return for an extra year of eligibility. Then freshman Max Christie entered the NBA Draft and backup center Julius Marble transferred to Texas A&M.

With all that attrition, the Spartans are trending down in Joe Lunardi's latest NCAA Tournament projections for the 2022-23 season.

Currently, ESPN's bracketologist projects Michigan State as an 8-seed in the West Region in a first-round matchup with 9-seed Oklahoma State. Should the Spartans defeat the Cowboys, they'd be matched up with 1-seed Gonzaga in the Round of 32.

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Michigan State is one of seven Big Ten teams that Lunardi projects to the field of 68. He has Indiana as a 4-seed after earning the Big Ten's automatic bid, Illinois is listed as a 6-seed, Michigan is listed as a 7-seed, Purdue joins Michigan State as an 8-seed, while Iowa and Ohio State are listed as 10-seeds. 

It's clear that Lunardi is expecting the Big Ten to take a significant step back as a conference in 2022-23.

While Michigan State loses four major contributors from last season's squad, the Spartans bring in a trio of true freshman. Four-star power forward Jaxon Kohler (No. 57 overall player) and four-star point guard Tre Holloman (No. 77) are expected to get on the floor immediately.

Unranked center Carson Cooper, meanwhile, is contemplating redshirting but could play his way into the rotation due to MSU's lack of front court depth.