Michigan St. Wins 20+ in 2 years; Not bad for a “Basketball School”

michigan-state-logo

On the banks of the Red Cedar there’s a school that’s known to sports fans.

Their specialty is college basketball, and the Spartans also play great hockey. Excuse me for taking the Michigan State fight song, and changing the lyrics. But when people think about MSU sports, Tom Izzo’s hoops program comes to mind first. Six Final Fours in 11 years will do that.

Spartan football was a national powerhouse in the 1960s; and since then MSU has produced a Rose Bowl in 1988, some great wide receivers, and not much else. However, there is a very rich football history in East Lansing beyond that. Legendary leader Duffy Daugherty led the Spartans to four national titles during the 1950s.

And this year’s Spartans, led by senior QB Kirk Cousins could tie the school record for wins with a win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game, and then break it with a win over Oregon in the Rose Bowl.

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

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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 Stays on NCAA Bubble with Narrow Victory over Iowa Hawkeyes

msu dance team

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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Big 10 Tournament Preview and Predictions

ohio state cheerleader

As mediocre as the Big Ten has looked this season (and a major reason why it looks so mediocre is because expectations were sky-high in October) that big muddled middle mush should make for an exciting conference tournament. There really is very little difference between seeds 4-7.

And the league is indicative of college basketball at large this season. When the brackets are set you’ll see not a big difference between seedings 1-3 in all four regionals. You call it parity now; but it will result in a very exciting tournament later. Both in Indianapolis this week, and around the nation the following week.

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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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Michigan State: Season is Essentially Over, Program in Crisis?

tom izzo

Is it all downhill for the Michigan State Spartans? Clearly, this season is over, and State has packed it in. If losing to Michigan for the first time in 1,100+ days didn’t convince you, then maybe the requirement of overtime to achieve 3/5 of their conference wins did.

No? Then last night’s phantasmagoric performance in Iowa City certainly does.

The Iowa Hawkeyes are among the worst power conference teams in all of college basketball, and probably the bottom-feeder of Big Ten bottom-feeders. And the Spartans couldn’t (or wouldn’t) guard them to save their life. With all the talent MSU has -a #2 preseason ranking attests to this- losing at all to Iowa is unacceptable. But getting blown out by the Hawkeyes? That’s simply bizarro world.

This team has quit on Tom Izzo. They seem to just be phoning it in for the rest of the 2011. So what does the dark future look like?

By Paul M. Banks

For part two of this feature go here

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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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Northwestern takes Michigan State Down to the Wire

Tom Izzo

Although the final outcome was still a loss, it was a much more exciting and interesting loss to Michigan State this time for Northwestern, who took one of their toughest Big Ten opponents down to the final possession.

No wants to believe in nor accept moral victories, but losing to the #18 Spartans, when your star forward John Shurna (the Big Ten’s leading scorer) is clearly not anywhere near himself, is not the worst thing in the world.

By Paul M. Banks

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Tom Crean: The Reason That Marquette Is In the Big East

The comparison between Marquette and Creighton works on a number of levels. Both schools have a Jesuit tradition with campuses that are located in urban areas. They also have been supported locally by alumni and a segmented passionate segment of their cities’ populations. There is a difference in population size between Omaha and Milwaukee, but there is also a discrepancy in the amount of options that exist to compete for the entertainment dollar in the two markets.

The disclaimer to this piece is that the blogger is a Marquette alumnus, but don’t hold that against the university. It was an oversight due to a clerical error. Tom Crean brings energy and enthusiasm to the Indiana Hoosiers program that must make John Mellencamp proud. It almost entices me to want to jump into a pick-up truck and start a riff on my acoustic guitar. The fact that he took on the challenge of rehabing the program in the immediate aftermath of Kelvin Sampson destroying it tells us he’s a master motivator.

By Patrick Herbert

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