Tom Izzo has been the Head Coach of the Michigan State Spartans basketball team since 1995.
Under Izzo, the Spartans have made 13 consecutive NCAA tournaments, one National Title, six Final Fours, and six Big Ten Titles.
The Spartans have been a model of consistency since he took over, and have more success over the last 15 years than any other program in the nation.
Entering this season, Michigan State was ranked second, and looked to be a serious threat for yet another Final Four appearance.
Those dreams are long gone.
As the calendar has turned to February, the Spartans have taken a turn for the worst—unlike anything Izzo’s teams have ever experienced.
MSU is currently 13 to nine overall, with a meager five to five record in the Big Ten.
Michigan State went through a gauntlet of non-conference opponents, facing the likes of Connecticut, Duke, Syracuse, Texas, and Washington. They lost all but one of those games.
Their schedule has been tough, that certainly will help their RPI. However, scheduling big games is one thing. Winning those games is another.
Michigan State is two to six against Tournament-worthy teams thus far this season.
Early in the season, it was the big boys that the Spartans couldn’t slay. As of late, every game has been a challenge for Izzo’s squad.
A home loss to the hated Michigan Wolverines, combined with a road loss to Penn State and the 20-point drubbing the lowly Iowa Hawkeyes handed the Spartans last night, have left Michigan State’s resume battered and bruised.
They are three to four in their last seven games, and each of those victories required overtime. Three wins, at home, against Indiana, Northwestern, and Wisconsin—by a combined eight points. Those numbers scream mediocrity.
Mediocrity does not qualify teams for the Big Dance.
As if the team hasn’t had enough trouble on the court, they’ve also struggled off the court, as Korie Lucious was recently dismissed from the team.
This left the team with very little depth. Aside from Draymond Green, Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers there is a whole lot of nothing on this roster.
Those three are three very good players, but as the nation has seen, they can’t do it on their own. Unfortunately for MSU faithful, they’re going to have to.
The Spartans don’t catch any breaks with their remaining schedule either.
Eight games remain. Five of which are against ranked opponents. The other three are against Iowa, Michigan, and Penn State.
Aside from being below average themselves, those three squads have something in common—all have defeated Michigan State once already this season.
The Spartans likely will need to make it through this stretch with a record of at least 4-4 to remain on the bubble.
They may need a prayer to accomplish that.
Their best chance could be if they get hot at the right time, and win the Big Ten tournament, thus receiving an automatic bid.
That doesn’t look very likely right now either.
Then again, three months ago, who would have imagined the Spartans would be in this predicament?
Anything is possible, but it appears the wheels have come off in East Lansing, and the Spartans are making a beeline to Madison Square Garden and the NIT.