After a few post-game celebratory beers at Harrison Roadhouse, I've returned home after watching Michigan State demolish Penn State 88-57 at Breslin Center.
There was quite a bit of commentary regarding Tom Izzo's criticism of his big men even after the Spartans hammered Ohio State in Columbus. Izzo knows what this team is capable of accomplishing and will accept nothing less than maximum effort. The path is clear for Michigan State to not just contend for a national title, but to win the whole shebang. My feeling is that Izzo senses the landscape of college hoops this season and that this is a great opportunity for the Spartans to finally win that elusive second Izzo national championship.
Today's game was never close. From the moment Deyonta Davis won the opening tip, Penn State never offered up a challenge. From the Nittany Lions side, the most excitement came when Pat Chambers lost his mind after a double technical and I thought police might need to intervene to restrain him. Had his assistant coaches not held him back, Chambers might have done great bodily harm to an official. And I'm only slightly tongue-in-cheek.
It was a sun-drenched and warm-ish day in East Lansing. The crowd at Breslin was lively and seemed to reflect the pleasant weather outside. That said, Penn State doesn't make Spartans fans' blood boil or pulse quicken like Wisconsin or Michigan, so the energy level was nowhere near the fever pitch I've seen against those teams. With the MSU team's level of motivation, it didn't need to be.
Amazingly, the Spartans still have a slim chance of tying for the Big Ten title. Early in the season, I thought Iowa or even Maryland would roll to the conference crown, but they both are struggling. Though Indiana hasn't dazzled me, they are in a position to win it.
Ultimately, the Big Ten championship doesn't matter that much (though it would be gratifying to earn a share), the way MSU is playing right now, a national championship is in their sights.