Tom Izzo and Michigan State lead a brutal nonconference slate to open the 2022-23 college basketball season. The first test was No. 2 Gonzaga, who the Spartans nearly beat in a 1-point loss. Up next for them is No. 4 Kentucky, who — despite what rankings say — might prove a tougher challenge than Gonzaga.

Izzo said in a presser on Monday that this very well could be another one added to the great Kentucky teams coached by legendary coach John Calipari.

Kentucky has the usual blue-chip freshmen coming in, which has been a given during the Calipari era. Guys like Justin Edwards, Robert Dillingham and Reed Sheppard lead that list, but what sets this Kentucky team apart from previous years is the number of talented seniors coming back to the program.

Oscar Tshiebwe, the reigning National Player of the Year, is among that group. Though he has been out due to knee surgery, Izzo expects him to play.

Tshiebwe will prove quite the task for Izzo’s group. Gonzaga star Drew Timme controlled the paint with 22 points and 13 rebounds against the Spartans, and Tshiebwe will not be any easier to stop. Either way, a win over this Kentucky team would certainly reduce the sting of the last game and be a huge momentum boost moving forward.