Josh Pastner called him Michigan State's "X-factor." Former Spartans star used to call him frustrating. Now Adreian Payne can be the guy who takes Tom Izzo and the Spartans to Atlanta and the Final Four.
Valpo coach Bryce Drew was worried about Michigan State's size and athleticism entering Thursday's game -- it was justifiable. Spartans senior big man Derrick Nix had his way with the Horizon Leaguers and Tom Izzo's team coasted into the round of 32.
For a stretch, Michigan State's Keith Appling was considered one of the top point guards in the country. Appling is still guarding, but he's not making shots -- and hasn't even been the one with the ball in his hands in crunch time lately. Sparty needs him to get on track soon, or they won't be going anywhere in March and April.