6-2 Spartans With Big Week Of Opportunity Ahead

6-2 Spartans With Big Week Of Opportunity Ahead

Basketball

6-2 Spartans With Big Week Of Opportunity Ahead

Tom Izzo’s 6-2 Spartans just completed a challenging four-game stretch having gone 3-1. This next week wraps up MSU’s initial, early season batch of tough tests.

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As is the case every single season, Tom Izzo loaded up the early part of his team’s 2018-19 schedule with tests that would give him an indication of the toughness his Spartans had and how much work will need to be done in the weeks and months ahead.

The season opener against then-#1 Kansas was a 92-87 loss – and even though there isn’t ever any such thing as a “moral victory” with Izzo’s program, Spartan fans had to be encouraged by the way Michigan State demonstrated it can compete against the nation’s best teams.

If Michigan State and Kansas square off in March, would these Spartans feel like they could get the win over the Jayhawks after that opening game experience?

Absolutely.

Three straight convincing wins – as they should have been – followed that loss to Kansas.

Izzo took his team to Las Vegas with an opportunity to win a tournament championship, something he’s always seen as a very real part of a season-long march to March.

Michigan State accomplished its mission in Las Vegas with two impressive wins over quality teams in UCLA and Texas.

Then came the tough, overtime loss to Louisville in what was a raucous KFC Yum! Center.

The 82-78 loss could have – should have? – been a win.

It would have been had the Spartans taken better care of the ball, made a couple of free throws, and grabbed the win late in regulation when the opportunities were there.

Instead of being 6-1, Michigan State left Louisville with a 5-2 record and will probably drop at least a few spots in this week’s national rankings.

However, Izzo’s team bounced back against Rutgers with a 78-67 win that should be seen by Spartans as something more than just a win against a team that’s been a last place finisher in each of the four seasons it’s played in the Big Ten.

The Scarlet Knights have improved, the arena in Piscataway was rocking, Michigan State fell behind early, and the scenario was ripe for a deflating and confidence-shaking loss.

Michigan State calmly yet strongly put away Rutgers and got to 6-2 and 1-0 in the Big Ten with a win that Izzo and his team will take.

So, Michigan State finds itself at the tail end of a stretch of early-season games that have tested this team, presented this team with opportunities for growth and experience, and have been a pretty good way for Izzo and the Spartan fan base to gauge the potential of the 2018-19 Spartans.

On Monday night, Iowa comes to East Lansing for a game that will be played on December 3rd but will have the feel of a game being played on February 3rd.

The Hawkeyes are 6-1 and have spent the last couple of weeks within the Top 20 of the national polls.

However, on Friday night, the Hawkeyes lost at home to Wisconsin 72-66 and Iowa is now staring at the possibility of an 0-2 start to their Big Ten schedule.

Izzo and the Spartans will get a focused and perhaps even slightly-desperate Hawkeye squad at the Breslin Center.

A win over Iowa on Monday night would be a massive step for this Spartan team.

Then, this coming Saturday presents Michigan State with yet another big opportunity to grow and show what it’s made of.

A road trip to Gainesville to face the Florida Gators won’t be easy but the Spartans should enter that game with every intention of heading back to East Lansing with a victory.

Florida is 4-3 with losses to Florida State, Oklahoma, and Butler to go along with wins over Charleston Southern, LaSalle, Stanford, and North Florida.

If Michigan State is a Big Ten Championship type of team with aspirations that are even higher than that, the Spartans should defeat both Iowa and Florida this week.

The Spartans would then reach a point in the schedule where there is an eight-day break before a home game with Green Bay on Sunday, December 16th with a strong 8-2 record and a realistic shot at being 11-2 when Northwestern comes to East Lansing on January 2nd.

Big week ahead for the Spartans with these two significant opportunities to continue to set the tone for the 2018-19 season…

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