Michigan State will be better next year despite first-round departure

Tom Izzo shouldn’t be down for too long.

OK, yeah, he’s on the wrong end of arguably the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history.

But, if you can believe it, Michigan State should be an even better team next year. Yes, better than the club that was a No. 2 seed — and should have been a No. 1. How so? Denzel Valentine’s gone, right? Bryn Forbes, too. And even Matt Costello, the Spartans’ important man in the middle this year.

Here’s the thing — and MSU fans realize this — Izzo has the best recruiting class of his life coming to East Lansing this summer. His 2016 crop is led by an absolute stud in Miles Bridges, a five-star forward with power, ridiculous athleticism, the ability to defend within 15 feet of the rim, and so much more.

Here’s Bridges. He’s going be a college hoops star next year.

Scary part for the rest of the Big Ten?

Bridges is a consensus top-10 player in his class … and might not be the best player Michigan State gets. Izzo and Co. are still in good with and battling for the services of Josh Jackson, who some think is the best player in the class of 2016. MSU is up against Arizona and Kansas for Jackson. If he goes to MSU, Sparty will have a case for being the preseason No. 1 team. Here is the 247Sports prediction for Jackson.

Here’s who we know will, for sure, be joining Bridges at MSU in 2016-17: Five-star wing Josh Langford, who’s an adept scorer and exactly the kind of player Izzo will need in losing Valentine and Forbes. Four-star point guard Cassius Winston looks to be a four-year reliability for Izzo. Really smart player. And finally, four-star post player Nick Ward, a 6-foot-9 necessity for MSU next season.

Coming back? Deyonta Davis should … but we’ll see. He’s talented, and this is going to be a thin upcoming draft class. Davis had a good freshman year and will be an NBA pick whenever he decides to leave. Eron Harris will be a senior; he could be one of the most dangerous 3-point shooters in the country. Gavin Schilling will be a senior in the paint, and Matt McQuaid will be right there with Harris in terms of a 3-point threat.

It’s a tough loss for Michigan State fans, but the irony about this season was how much better Sparty wound up being vs. preseason expectations. It was a good year. Next year can be even better. Valentine was one of the most talented players in the history of the program, but there’s no doubt next season’s roster will blow this year’s away in terms of pure hoops talent.

Tom Izzo can be sad for a few days, but he’ll get happy real quick with his big recruiting class. (USATSI)

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