Thursday, January 14, 2016

Butt kicking at Breslin

When the highlight of your evening at a Michigan State basketball game is hearing "Let's Dance" played over the PA system during a timeout (RIP, David Bowie), you know you have trouble.

I just returned home from Breslin Center and am trying to process what has to be the worst home court butt-kicking MSU has received since Duke came to town in the 2003-2004 season and drubbed the Spartans.

For one of the few times since Izzo has been coach, it appeared the Spartans were thoroughly unprepared for this game. Outhustled, outshot, outrebounded, outcoached in the first half. It was just awful. There is no way to sugarcoat it.
The game was a perfect storm: Iowa was focused and executed perfectly, while MSU was out of sync and sloppy. By the time the Spartans woke (a little bit) from their slumber in the second half, it was way too late.

I won't say the sky is falling. It's only January. Denzel Valentine may still not be himself yet. As disappointed and numb as I feel now, I still believe this team can do big things this year. Believe it or not, a conference title is still not completely out of the question, though with two losses already, the Spartans will need help.

The question going forward is this? Was last night an anomaly? I think we can say with certainty that, at this point anyway, Iowa is a better team than Michigan State. In fact, Iowa may be the best team in the Big Ten. But are they that much better? Was this just a matter of MSU not matching up well with Iowa? Or are the Spartans levelling off? Going into this season, most thought this would be a rebuilding year. Then when the team got off to such a great start, expectations changed and the Spartans eventually found themselves at number one in the nation. Clearly, at this point in the season, the Spartan are nowhere near the best team in the country, nor are they the best team in the conference.

Last night's game left me, and probably many other MSU fans, completely befuddled. A struggling Wisconsin at Kohl Center now looks like a much more daunting task than it appeared to be just three hours ago. How the Spartans respond will tell us a lot more about where this team stands.

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