- Dick Vitale, College Basketball analyst
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It has been a tough season for Tom Izzo and Michigan State. Izzo is a future Hall of Famer who has led the Spartans to an incredible run of six Final Four appearances over the last 12 seasons.
Expectations were high this season as Michigan State was ranked in the top three early on. Izzo welcomed back a veteran club ready to challenge for a spot at the Final Four in Houston.
After last weekend's setback at Purdue and with the recent dismissal of starting guard Korie Lucious, things aren't looking to get better anytime soon. The Spartans, who dropped only nine games all of last season en route to the Final Four, have seven L's already.
The good news is Kalin Lucas, who came back from a major to his Achilles tendon, is starting to look like his old self. He looked much quicker taking the ball to the basket, than he did earlier this season. He just did not convert enough against Purdue, going three-for-16 from the floor. Durrell Summers, who was super in the Big Dance last season, also has to step up and return to his old form.
One concern has to be defense. In the last two games (vs. Illinois and Purdue), the Spartans allowed both opponents to shoot over 50 percent from the field. That marked the first two times that happened this season.
My friends, Tom Izzo is a fighter and his team personifies its coach. Odds are, the Spartans will not win the Big Ten title now that they are three games behind Ohio State in league play. That said, the season is far from over.
One concern has to be defense. In the last two games (vs. Illinois and Purdue), the Spartans allowed both opponents to shoot over 50 percent from the field. That marked the first two times that happened all season.
I have a feeling that this Michigan State team will still make some noise. Playing a rugged non-league schedule which included Duke, Syracuse, Connecticut, Texas and Washington was challenging, but in the long run that experience will help.
Don't fall asleep on Michigan State. This team has talent and can still make a deep run in the NCAA tournament. You know Izzo will work hard, day and night, to get this team playing to its potential.