COLUMN: MSU men's basketball will make tournament despite roller coaster season
A classic story of head coach Tom Izzo is struggling through the first half of the season, then like the spin on a bowling ball, cut from the edge of the gutter to the head pin.
Wobbling back and forth on the lane’s edge, Izzo has repeated his struggles with this years team over and over — the youth in his four freshmen class as well as the height disadvantage with pre-season injuries.
Though MSU men’s basketball (14-9, 6-4 Big Ten) has dealt with this adversity, it has come with many setbacks and let downs. The Spartans' inability to focus on the road being the largest component.
Now as it reaches the middle of the softer segment of its Big Ten schedule, MSU has the best chance to show the NCAA tournament committee they are worthy of the round of 68.
Barring an upset, MSU is free and clear for the Big Dance if it defeats teams below them in the Big Ten standings. These teams include: Michigan, Iowa, Ohio State, Nebraska and Illinois.
With a record of 14-9, these five wins should give MSU men’s basketball a small cushion to lose one, potentially two of these games and still be set for the tournament. Any worse, and the Spartans will need additional help in the Big Ten tournament to pull them through.
Games against Purdue, Wisconsin and Maryland are all ranked opponents where a loss wouldn’t damage MSU’s reputation much. Win any of these games, and the Spartans can practically sharpie themselves into the Big Dance.
Reaching the tournament the past 19 seasons, the state of Michigan has enough stress and anxiety with the dismal performances from the Detroit Red Wings. While the Red Wings’ streak will come to a close, this streak will live on.
Fiery over the questions that loomed after a loss against Purdue, Izzo gave a zinger of, “I don’t care about the fan base.” While directed toward the tournament talk and people’s opinions about the program, Izzo showed the cracked ice this team stood upon.
Now as MSU is set to rematch the Wolverines in Ann Arbor, the Spartans will slowly continue to find themselves.
It is apparent this team has the ability to belong in the tournament, however, not compete with the top dogs of the nation.
Look for MSU to fall on the eight or nine seed line, setting up a round of 32 matchup against a top two opponent.
Over a month ago I mentioned on Spartan Nation's radio show with Hondo Carpenter that this team will be a round of 32 and out. I stand by that prediction.