By: Charles Ranspach
Well everyone, we have finally made it. Disregard the two random games at the start of December. The Big Ten creep is upon us.
After an early loss to Duke in the champions classic, MSU has put together a pretty impressive 13-game winning streak. A few highlights from that stretch would be complete dominance of North Carolina to win the PK80 tournament, a game that had maybe the perfect 20-minute stretch of basketball, and a win against Notre Dame (one that I demand still gets it’s proper respect in March since Colson was healthy), and here at the end, four games in a row of 100+ points scored (something that had never been done before).
The starting 5 has been incredible so far. All of them are averaging double digits in points and their defense has been incredible. Cassius Winston is at the top of 3-point shooting percentage, Nick Ward had only missed two shots in four games, Langford seems to have found something being a multi-faceted scorer, Jaren Jackson has been as good as advertised, and the highest average scorer on the team (Miles Bridges) still has yet to find a groove.
With the bench being so deep, with threats from inside and dominance in the paint on defense, there is a lot to like about the Spartans.
The Big Ten doesn’t seem like it is going to be as big of a test that it has been in the past. MSU seems to be far above the rest of the league, with Purdue and Minnesota being a distant 2 and 3.
Along with that, we only play each of them once this year back-to-back. I am not saying that MSU will sweep the season, but it certainly is possible. One thing that will benefit the Spartans is being #1 in the country. The pressure that comes with that ranking seems to be getting the best from each opponent, which will help test the team through a mundane schedule of the Big Ten.
The role players will continue to grow, even more than they have already and that can only benefit a team that has sky-high expectations.
All of these factors will result in a Big Ten regular-season title, conference tournament title, and (yeah, I’ll say it!) a Final Four appearance. It just seems like this year’s team has that “it” factor, someone always seems to step up when needed.
MSU will reopen Big Ten play against Maryland on January 4th @ 8:00pm in East Lansing. Maryland will be without two of their most important players, Justin Jackson and Ivan Bender. Look for MSU to dominate this game as Izzy begins his most important stretch as a coach.