It hasn't quite been the impressive week that Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo had hoped for; but on Tuesday, the coach confirmed he's not going to set off any alarms just yet.
After falling in a heartbreaking, last-moment 72-68 home loss to No. 1-ranked Indiana last week, the Spartans topped it all off with a miserable performance against then-No. 18 Ohio State down in Columbus. The back-to-back losses didn't drop Michigan State out of the top ten teams in the nation, but it did cast a shadow over what little remains of the regular season before MSU heads into the Big Ten tournament and, finally, into the Big Dance.
“I am not in any panic mode,” Izzo said. “We are going to play good teams and when you play good teams you are going to lose games. I would like to win them all, but we are not that kind of team yet. I am hoping the best basketball we’ve got is coming.”
The Big Ten Conference can arguably be compared to the world of college basketball as to what the SEC Conference is to college football. This year especially, Big Ten teams are consistently-ranked among the best in the nation and analysts are already predicting a number of B1G teams to go deep into this year's tournament. Still, coach Izzo isn't making any excuses, because he knows each Big Ten team's schedule can be viewed as just-as-difficult in a number of ways.
“It’s all so schedule driven as far as the streaks,” Izzo said. “Everybody in the Big Ten can play the same people but at different times.”
A few weeks back, Michigan State absolutely pummeled rival Michigan in the Breslin Center, leading most of the game by double digits and eventually settling into a comfortable 30-point lead. Still, what looked like a major turnaround boosting-point for the Spartans, may have offered too much false hope for the time being.
“Usually when you play a game like that you shoot 60-some percent and shoot uncharacteristic from the 3,” Izzo said Tuesday. “The only thing we did that was maybe more uncharacteristic is we did rebound the ball a little better than we have in some other games. The shooting we were not much different than our regular.”
Regardless, Izzo has seen days just as dark as this... and much, much worse. All that matters is Michigan State's performance come tournament time. Sure, an impressive-performance and a high-seeding into the Dance would be lovely, but right at the moment, it might just not be something that the Spartans and coach Izzo have the luxury to afford.
“You don’t lose everything in two games, guys,” Izzo said. “It doesn’t happen that way. Even you guys were ready to canonize him for most of the Big Ten season. He has had two games where he played un-Keith Appling-like. I think that’s a tribute to him and how hard he plays 90 percent of the time.”
Michigan State now prepares for a rematch against now-No. 4 Michigan in Ann Arbor; and if ever there was a better time for the Wolverines to embarrass Michigan State like they did likewise, that time is now...
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