Thursday, February 3, 2011

'11 Michigan State Is '10 North Carolina


Michigan State is struggling. Hard. Sparty has lost 4 of their last 5 games and are currently 5-5 in the Big Ten.

It may not get better any time soon. Of their 8 remaining games, Michigan State faces off against 5 ranked teams. They travel to Wisconsin, Ohio State and Minnesota. They get Purdue and Illinois at home. They also have Penn State, Iowa and Michigan to round it all out. Those three teams all have beaten the Spartans already.

Hard to believe at the beginning of the season that Michigan State may not make the NCAA Tournament. We haven't seen this kind of fall since ... since ... since ... North Carolina last year.

Remember the Tar Heels? They just came off of two straight trips to the Final Four -- just as Michigan State is coming off two straight trips to the Final Four this year. Both schools lost some cogs to their team, but both had tons of talent. Heck, Michigan State was ranked No. 1 by the Sporting News!

Look, MSU is 13-9 overall and have some impressive losses on their resume. It may not have looked great at the time, but losing to UConn, Syracuse and Texas ... as well as Duke ... is not horrible. Nor do losing to Wisconsin, Illinois or Purdue. But you can't lose to Michigan, Iowa or Penn State as well. At some point, you've got to matter. You've got to show people that you actually belong there.

It wasn't enough for North Carolina last year. They also started their season a little rough, but their losses were also against some pretty good teams. Syracuse, Texas and Kentucky were pretty elite teams last year (well, Texas became the No. 1 team in the country before making a fall of their own). However, a loss to Charleston started a spiraling of the Tar Heels' season that landed them in the N.I.T.

That may be where Michigan State is heading. If they get blown out by 20 point to an Iowa team that had won just once in conference play heading into the game, then how in the heck can they do anything with that remaining schedule to get themselves into the Tournament?

As North Carolina learned last year, this is a newer age of basketball. Nothing is guaranteed anymore. UCLA has learned that. Kentucky learned it and decided that John Calipari's antics are now cool. Indiana is still learning it. Michigan State isn't even in with those blue bloods so you know they aren't immune to it.

Look, they'll get back. They may miss the dance this year, but this isn't anything like what Indiana is facing. North Carolina is back in the thick of things one year after their disasterous fall. Heck, North Carolina went 8-20 one season and then won the NCAA Tournament three years later.

It isn't that bad in East Lansing. But it isn't what everyone expected it would be.

1 comment:

c note said...

Michigan State has greatly underacheived. I was trying to think of a team to compare them to and you nailed it. Good post.