Michigan State: toughest team wins nation’s toughest conference


msu dance team

It’s the league with the nation’s best RPI and SoS; therefore the Big Ten is the nation’s “toughest conference.” And therefore the team which look the league title is toughest of the tough. “Built Ford Tough” like they say in nearby Detroit. The #5 Michigan State Spartans lost a chance to win the outright Big Ten title on a jumper by Ohio State’s Will Buford with 0.8 seconds left. But they still tied for the league crown with the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines. Something is better than nothing.

Michigan State clinched a share of its 14th regular-season Big Ten Championship, and the seventh under head coach Tom Izzo. Since MSU entered the league in 1951, only Indiana has won more titles (17), while Ohio State has also won 13. Tom Izzo is one of just five coaches in history with seven or more Big Ten titles. Just Indiana’s Bob Knight (11), Purdue’s Ward Lambert (11), Ohio State’s Fred Taylor (9) and Wisconsin’s Walter Meanwell (8) have won more.


Walter Meanwell is a pretty bad ass name, and Draymond Green is having a pretty bad ass season. He’s the consensus conference player of the year candidate, and should end up on some All-American teams. Does he have a future in the NBA? We answer that.

Green is in the top ten in the Big Ten in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals, AND blocks.  That’s ridiculous. His ascension is the main reason the Spartans are fighting for a #1 seed, and should at least a #2 on Selection Sunday. But there are other reasons too.

Addition by Addition:

the 2011-12 Spartans came in unranked, with little expectation, but here they are among the national college basketball elite. The additions of Branden Dawson, a McDonald’s All-American with a prototypical slasher game, and Valparaiso transfer Brandon Wood, a stabilizing veteran presence in a depleted backcourt, gave this team depth that last year’s Spartans lacked. Sophomores Adreian Payne and Keith Appling have developed too.

tom izzo michigan state

Addition by Subtraction:

Last year we had to listen to Tom Izzo call out Durrell Summers in press conferences for his lack of effort, especially on defense. That was a distraction. Then there was Korie Lucious and Chris Allen, who were in Izzo’s doghouse even worse than Summers, and got kicked off the team.  Big time distractions. Last year’s squad also relied on injured veterans Kalin Lucas and Delvon Roe. Both were much more injured than even they themselves led on. Great players, tought guys, but this year’s unit is fresh.

Finally, Derrick Nix’s weight. Sure, he’s still fat, but he’s nowhere near as fat as he was his freshman or sophomore year. His improved conditioning has made him part of a much stronger Spartan front line.

And that’s why overall, this is a typical Izzo tough team that rebounds, plays hard defense and shoots well from the foul line. Okay, so maybe they need to improve that last one, but otherwise this is what you need/expect from a Spartans team.

Last year, Izzo referred to his guys as a “pretty boy jump shooting team.” You would never say that about this bunch.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.

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