Sunday, February 22, 2015

Who in the heck schedules a college basketball game at 7:30 on a Sunday night? makes absolutely no sense to me. First of all, is it at all fair to the student/athletes who are participating in this MSU/Illinois game? The answer, of couse, is a resounding "no!"  But when has fairness, or even common sense, ever mattered to the NCAA or the networks who dictate when these games are played? I think you can figure out the answer to that question.

In other "strange but true" college sports scheduling stories, the Big Ten recently announced the 2015-2016 basketball schedule. Archrivals MSU and Michigan play one time instead of the usual two. Once again, where does common sense ever prevail in these decisions? I've heard that a computer...yes, a COMPUTER...creates these schedules. Okay, that's well and good. I'm sure that it's much easier and less time consuming to allow a computer to spit out a complete conference schedule in a fraction of the time it'd take a human or two to do it. But shouldn't a human "check the work" after the computer has finished its assignment? How is it possible, or even advisable, for the Big Ten to allow the Spartans and Wolverines to play just once due to the work of a computer? It'd be about as bad as a football season in which MSU and Michigan didn't play at all. (What is even worse for Michigan is that they not only play MSU only one time, but also only play Ohio State once. How does that make any sense, Big Ten Conference?).

What's particularly sad is that this is not the first time this has happened. In the 2003 and 2009 conference seasons, MSU and Michigan played only one time. With only eleven teams in the conference in those days, it was even less excusable. I understand that with 14 teams in the league now, it's inevitable that with an 18-game schedule there will be several teams that are only played once...but an archrival shouldn't be one of them. Perhaps it's time the Big Ten seriously consider expanding the conference slate and reducing the number of meaningless non-conference games.


Now back to the MSU/Illinois game. I fully expect the Spartans to play much better than they did the last time these teams played two weeks ago at Breslin. I'm not about to guarantee a Spartan win, but if they lose it won't be due to a lack of effort. It seems as if that debacle against Illinois turned on a light switch for this entire team, from the coaching staff on down to the last player on that bench, and they haven't looked back since.

Branden Dawson is playing with the intensity of a guy who has suddenly realized that his college career is about to end. I have never seen Dawson look better in his career than he has the last two weeks of this season. 

Ever since Tom Izzo began starting Lourawls Nairn, with Travis Trice coming off the bench, both players have been outstanding. Nairn is more confident than he was earlier in the year--and the speed, enthusiasm, energy, and great defense he brings can't be measured on the stat sheet. Trice looks more comfortable entering the game off the bench and his shooting stroke has reemerged after a mysterious absence.

Overall, the team looks poised for a strong finish to the regular season, in typical Tom Izzo style.

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