Tonight's 68-66 MSU loss to Maryland was quite possibly the ugliest college basketball game I've ever witnessed. If nothing else, it was the most unsightly first half of basketball in my memory, If one were to see the 17-14 halftime score across the ESPN crawl, he or she would be forgiven for thinking it was a football score. The first half was so horrible, in fact, that with 6:24 left in the first half, Michigan State had only six points. Maryland wasn't much better, they had eleven.
Play was marginally better in the second half and the two overtimes, but the more prolific scoring was probably due more to the fact the game became a glorified free throw shooting contents. If the game comes to that, MSU is at a serious disadvantage.
MSU had a chance to win in regulation, and they had a chance to win in the first overtime. In fact, MSU had numerous chances to pull away in the game but just could not do it.
I know that criticizing Tom Izzo is practically verboten around these parts, and I do so rarely because the man's track record speaks for itself and he knows more basketball in his pinky finger that I could ever hope to know in a lifetime. Still, I question the timeout call on Bryn Forbes' breakaway with about twelve seconds left in the first half (though I have since heard that it was, in fact, Travis Trice who called the timeout) and not fouling Maryland before the Terps were able to launch the game-tying three-pointer that sent the game into the first overtime.
The bottom line is that this basketball team is not very good right now. Perhaps part of this is due to Branden Dawson still overcoming his injury. But even with a healthy Dawson, this team has struggled against good competition. There are just too many weaknesses: lack of a consistent interior presence, absolutely atrocious free throw shooting that never seems to improve, and an overreliance on perimeter shooting that is inconsistent at best. To top it all off, there is nobody on the team that seems able to take charge when the game is on the line.
It may just be "one of those years." But I fear that if matters don't improve, MSU's NCAA tournament streak is in jeopardy