If the Michigan State Spartans want to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament this year, they’ll have to do it without guard Joshua Langford. On Wednesday, the school announced that the junior will miss the remainder of the season with a left foot injury.
That same injury has already kept Langford out of the past eight games for the Spartans.
Decision Reached After Rehab Attempts Fail
The injury was sustained during the first half of a December game against Northern Illinois. Since then, Langford hasn’t made an appearance on the court, and speculation was mounting about the severity of his injury before the Wednesday announcement.
“It’s with great sadness that I have to announce that after numerous studies, rehabilitation, and an attempt at return, it has been determined that Josh will miss the remainder of the season,” Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said in a statement. “Josh has a stress injury that we caught fairly early and we had hoped that, with treatment and rest, he would recover. He has not, and will likely need surgery to prevent problems in the future.”
While Langford is not a superstar, he was a key member of the Michigan State rotation. A starter since his freshman year, Langford was averaging 15 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game this year, was shooting better than 40 percent from three-point range, and was considered one of the best perimeter defenders on the Spartans’ roster.
At 18-3, Michigan State is currently ranked sixth in the AP Top 25 poll. The team has gone 7-1 in Langford’s absence, but saw a 13-game winning streak come to an end on Sunday when they lost 73-63 on the road to the Purdue Boilermakers.
Rotation Shortens in Langford’s Absence
While the Spartans are certainly deep enough to survive the loss of Langford, it will tighten the team’s core rotation and put more pressure on some of Michigan State’s other key guards.
Senior guard Matt McQuaid, another lockdown defender, will likely see himself matched up against the best outside offensive threat the Spartans face for the rest of the year. Meanwhile, point guard Cassius Winston may have to run the offense almost exclusively, as Izzo is unlikely to give many minutes to freshman backup Foster Loyer.
But the Spartans may miss Langford as much for his locker room presence as for what he gives them on the court.
“His selfless attitude is the reason there were tears throughout the meeting room when we shared the news with his team,” Izzo said. “I’ve never felt worse for a player than I do for Josh, but he’s a very religious kid who believes everything happens for a reason.”
Despite the injury, oddsmakers still see Michigan State as a legitimate contender in the NCAA tournament. Paddy Power lists the Spartans as a 14/1 pick to win a national championship this season, behind the favored Duke Blue Devils (21/10) as well as Gonzaga (9/1), Virginia (10/1), and in-state rival Michigan (12/1).