There’s no question that the teams of Tom Izzo are much better in March -when it counts- then November/December. But nothing has come easy for this Spartans team. It seems like every time they play inferior competition they struggle with them. They still win, but play way down to their level.
They did it again versus Texas, trailing in the second half. Yes, the Longhorns just knocked off a #23 ranked North Carolina team, but the Tar Heels are overrated. And UT has lost to Chaminade, USC, Georgetown and USC. State won of course, but the ‘Horns were down by just two down the stretch.
MSU’s struggles started with the upset to an inferior UConn team in Germany. They only beat Boise St. by four, not pulling away from Oakland until the closing minutes, beating Lousiana-Lafayette by just three, losing to unranked Miami team, they also trailed late in the second half to Loyola and Bowling Green. They’re just not dominating teams nor closing them out. By far, the highlight of the non-conference slate was the win over now #9 Kansas.
So is there a drop off with State this year? Or will they just get hot again in crunch time. What can we read into their 11-2 non-conference performance? What should we expect when they play #14 Minnesota Golden Gophers on New Year’s Eve when Big Ten season opens.
“You got to have that tradition, and it may not happen in my lifetime cuz it takes 40, 50, 60 years- Kentucky, Kansas, Alabama in football that’s part of what you got to live with. People have treated me fairly, the media has been good to me, do you worry if there’s any fall off with your program that it will just change immediately? Sure maybe that’s not a bad thing, maybe it’s what keeps me going. Maybe I’m a masochist in my own way,” Izzo said at Big Ten media day.
The Spartans are last in the league, 265th nationally in turnovers. They’re also 8th in scoring. So the major issues are on offense. A lot of it stems from Travis Trice, the only true point guard on the roster, being injured. Keith Appling is the team’s star, but he’s not a true point. Defensively, State is rock solid, number one in ppg against and opp. field goal percentage. So they’ll win a lot of conference games by 60-50.
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