Michigan State Blows Out #9 Purdue, Secures NCAA Tournament Bid

izzo-on-broadway

I guess MSU Coach Tom Izzo  finally got his Michigan State Spartans to realize that March is here? In their 74-56 rout over the #6 Purdue Boilermakers, State finally played like a preseason #2 team in national college basketball.

And of course they did it in March, a month in which they’re known to be at their best. It took all the way to the Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals, but it did happen.

This was about as complete a game, at both ends of the floor that State has played all season. And the win, in very convincing fashion, over a top opponent has clinched their way into the NCAA Tournament.

By Paul M. Banks

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Michigan State Survives Iowa 66-61: Rapid Reaction


The Michigan State Spartans keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive with a 66-61 first-round win over the Iowa Hawkeyes on Thursday.

Spartans Head Coach Tom Izzo said it best when he said, “It wasn’t the prettiest of games,” as the Spartans  and Hawkeyes combined for 28 turnovers in a back-and-forth affair which came down to the very last minute of play.

But it was a pair of Spartans who made the difference with Durrell Summers hitting a couple of clutch free throws down the stretch and Draymond Green putting forth a monster double-double of 21 points and 14 rebounds.

We all know what this means for the Spartans, but where do the Hawkeyes go from here?

By: Nick Grays

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Michigan State Stays on NCAA Bubble with Narrow Victory over Iowa Hawkeyes

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In our latest, most up-to-date NCAA Tournament bracket projection, (or college basketball “bracketology” if you will, we have the Michigan State Spartans as a #11 seed.

Although the chances of them falling into that final #12 seed line (and perhaps playing within that “First Four”) are still high, even with their 66-61 narrow escape over the Iowa Hawkeyes in the first round of Big Ten Tournament. It was game the Hawkeyes lost more than the Spartans won.

However, their chances of falling off the bubble and into the NIT are quite low at this point. A win tomorrow over the #2 seed Purdue Boilermakers assures their place as the sixth Big Ten team in the NCAA Tournament.

By Paul M. Banks

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Is Michigan State Going to be Left out of the NCAA Dance?

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Only one team from last year’s Final Four looks to be in serious danger of missing this year’s NCAA Tournament. That college basketball team was also the national runner-up in 2009, and ranked #2 in preseason polls this year. They are the Big ten and the nation’s biggest let-down, the Michigan State Spartans (17-13, 9-9). North Carolina and Kansas State also had massive preseason expectations, and seen their struggles this season. However, the Tar Heels and Wildcats are getting hot at the right time- down the stretch.

There are plenty of reasons for the disaster that’s unfolded in East Lansing, Michigan: a myriad of injuries, the behavior issues of Korie Lucious and Chris Allen, a consistently catastrophic amount of turnovers every game, the severe regression of Durrell Summers, Delvon Roe’s knees that just won’t heal, Kalin Lucas not being 100% healthy until midseason, the freshmen and sophomore class lack of production, and of course, Tom Izzo sometimes losing his team due to his tyrannical tactics.

By Paul M. Banks

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Michigan State is a Program in Severe Crisis, but What’s Next?

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As I articulated in the first part of this feature, the Michigan State college basketball season is ostensibly over. (Follow that link for more detail, but if your only colors are green and white I’m warning you now: “there’s no comfort in the truth, pain is all you’ll find,” as George Michael told us in the 1980s)

State’s packing it in is no longer news to anyone close the program; the latest no-show at Carver-Hawkeye Arena cemented their ticket not to the NCAAs, but the NIT (if they can get 3-4 more wins this season), or more likely the second division of the Big Ten. Without hyperbole, you can say Wednesday night was the worst loss of the Tom Izzo era and it makes you wonder if there’s any confidence remaining in that locker room these days. Meaning it’s already time to start thinking about next year.

And with that, time to start taking a hard look at the host of issues surrounding the current roster.

By Paul M. Banks

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Relationship Between Michigan State’s Leading Scorer and Head Coach Getting Frosty?

durrell summers

Last March, Michigan State Spartans star Durrell Summers saw a breakout NCAA Tournament propel his NBA Draft stock. A probable second round pick, Summers instead came back to school, and now sees his stock falling. The primary questions that surround his potential -defense and heart- are now flaring up again.

And Summers isn’t getting any help from his own Head Coach Tom Izzo on these topics. Answering a reporter’s question is one thing, but one could say he’s actually gone out of his way to call Summers out in the past three press conferences.

It all started in the home overtime win over Northwestern.

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Michigan State Loses 71-62 in Champaign, Blows Chance at Road Win

Tom Izzo

A big reason Michigan State won back to back Big Ten titles in ’09-’10 is their superior road record. The last two years MSU is 16-5 away from home. They had a school record 8 road wins in  2009, and followed it up with a 7-2 mark the following season.

However, this year outside of the Breslin Center has been a totally different story. The Spartans fell to the Illini in Champaign Tuesday night, in a game both teams needed in order to stay in the conference race.

The loss dropped State’s road record to 1-3 in 2010-11. Their only road win was at Northwestern on January 3rd. State is currently 12-6, 4-2 in conference, with all but one of their losses coming to a ranked opponent.

MSU’s second leading scorer, Durrell Summers, was benched tonight and at first glance you night read that sentence and quote the classic film Dodgeball: “Interesting strategy Cotton, let’s see if it pays off for ’em.”

But Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo made switch in order to make a statement.

By Paul M. Banks
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Michigan State Has Found Their Legitimate Starting Five Now

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Following Michigan State’s narrow escape over Oakland on December 11th, I tweeted to my followers what I believed MSU’s starting lineup should be: a three guard cadre of Durrell Summers, Kalin Lucas, Keith Appling with Delvon Roe and Draymond Green up front.

I then tweeted an abbreviated/condensed version of why I felt this would work.

First, having two true point guards (and the requisite ball-handing skills) on the floor at the same time would help ameliorate State’s biggest issue this year- turnovers.

Secondly, Lucas is just not himself after the Achilles and who knows if/when he ever will be. He’s better served as a scorer off the ball now than as primary distributor. Perfect for Appling, who’s defense is way ahead of his scoring right now. Let him bring the ball up and set the offense.

By Paul M. Banks

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Michigan State Needs More Consistent Scoring from Durrell Summers

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It maybe single digit high temperatures and subzero wind chills in East Lansing, Michigan right now, but the Michigan State Spartans should look to make it Durrell “Summers summer, summertime Time to sit back and unwind” if they are to start living up to their preseason hype. Apologies for quoting Will Smith. Really, that was my bad I know.

The Spartans were preseason #2, but they have three losses already on this young season.

None of their losses have been particularly bad: they took #6 UConn down to the wire, they hung with #1 Duke at Cameron Indoor for about 35 minutes (and could probably win that game today now that it would be played without Kyrie Irving who ripped them apart for 31 points). And although Tuesday night’s loss to Syracuse wasn’t pretty, playing the #8 team in the nation in their home state is always a tough task.

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Durrell Summers’ time During Michigan State’s Winter

By Paul M. Banks

During the run to the title game last season, you probably heard a lot of announcers make annoying puns off the name of Michigan State’s Durrell Summers. That’s because  1.) Most mainstream media tv commentators are hacks   2.) Summers made so many plays that he required attention. You’ll hear his name a lot more this season.

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Why Michigan St Plays for the Title

By Paul M. Banks

Heading into Saturday’s Final Four, much has been made of MSU’s home-court advantage in Detroit, but the “intangible” if you believe in such things as a deciding factor being slightly under-reported is the dark cloud of scandal hanging over the heads of the UConn program.

They may just fold up shop, like Indiana did down the stretch last season when the stench of Kelvin “Mr. Telephone Man” Sampson’s corruption sent the Hoosiers into a serious downfall.

The Spartans were not favored to beat Louisville, but the played lights-out defense and dominated the Cardinals down the stretch. I respect the talent of Hasheem Thabeet and A.J. Price, but I don’t think the team has enough left in the tank to overcome the maladaptive mental factors that will be plaguing them on the nation’s brightest stage.

I also think North Carolina will cruise in their semifinal, setting up a rematch of a VERY one-sided game held in December- at the very same venue. UNC utterly routed Sparty in a game that was even more lopsided than the box score indicates. Look for it to be much closer this time, especially since Izzo will have his Suton, as in Goran Suton for this match, and that makes a huge difference.

As Illinois Coach Bruce Weber articulated, the gist of Michigan State is…

“Suton is the key to them, he’s a fifth year senior, he’s strong, physical and really improved as a player. Their deep and they can keep coming at you with a lot of people, a lot of different weapons.”

Weber wasn’t able to solve Sparty during their two meetings this season and after the second loss, he spoke all about Kalin Lucas, the Big Ten player of the year, and the outside threat complementing Suton inside.

“He’s as quick a player as anyone in the country, it’s kind of back to the days when snow was there and Mateen Cleaves and he’s got ‘em running up and down. The big ten sometimes gets a knock for not running up and down and playing transition basketball but Michigan State to me has always been one of the best teams in the country as far as fast breaking.”

I asked him if the best player on conference champ Michigan St. Kalin Lucas reminded him of Dee Brown, his recent superstar point guard, being that both were usually the quickest guy in the court

“He does, from top of the key to top of the key, he gets there really quick, and it puts you in a bind, puts you on your heels, he might be quicker than Eric Snow or Mateen Cleaves, he seems like one of those little bugs that just flies down. And they work at it. Tom and I talk a lot of times about the league and the image, you know we all try to run, it’s just that in the league you get a great home court advantage, with the filled arenas, people guard in our league and they take things away because they prepare and they take away that transition.
I’m not saying Sparty will run the table in 8 Mile next weekend, but this team does share a lot of similarities to the 2000 National Title team.

-Both got better as the season went on, and had some embarrassing losses early. The title team lost to Wright St. in pre-conference, freaking Wright St. This team got thrashed by both Maryland and UNC early on. Both teams recovered to play their best ball when it mattered most

-Each of these teams possessed lot of versatility and were able to generate many different lineups from their wings and run those lineups effectively. This team can play different tempos when the situation calls for it and the title team displayed that in the Final Four, drubbing Wisconsin 53-41 in stall-ball before out-running Florida 89-76.

-Role players excel and provide critical lifts at opportune times. 2000: we had Aloysius Anagone, A.J. Granger, Mike Chappel, and Jason Richardson (remember he was mostly awful his freshman year, but became his star during his sophomore campaign. This season: Durrell Summers, Delvon Roe and Chris Allen have carried this unit at times.

-Each unit had balls bounce their way and survived scares to reach the b-ball promised land. The 2000 team’s victories over Marcus Fizer/Jamaal Tinsley’s Iowa St. team in the elite 8 was much closer than the final score. Ditto for the sweet 16 round versus Syracuse. Both Spartan teams were in deep trouble with under 5 minutes to go, but played out of their mind down the stretch.  This year’s team was quite fortunate to survive Arizona. Not to mention that both teams had Detroit as a portion of their Final 4 journey. The 2000 team played the second weekend at the Auburn Hills Palace while this team takes the court in Ford Field.