Wednesday, February 15, 2012

B1G Championship WILL be decided March 4th

Photo by K. Fowler/Lansing State Journal
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Expect the re-match between the Spartans and Buckeyes in East Lansing to decide the B1G Championship AND secure a number one seed in the NCAA tournament for the winner.

The victory over Ohio State gives Michigan State a step up towards the B1G Championship. With 6 games to go there are plenty of challenges the last three weeks of the season. Three home games left against Wisconsin, Nebraska and Ohio State and three on the road against Purdue, Minnesota, and Indiana. The Spartans will play three ranked teams including rematches with Wisconsin and Ohio State at home and on the road against Indiana.

The Spartans are allowed to maybe slip up once and even that would probably just be good enough to be tied with the Buckeyes, who face a slightly more difficult finish to the schedule. Obviously winning out is the goal. Beating the Buckeyes in Columbus is great, but a even greater threat to the B1G Championship hopes is losing the last home game of the year.

Last night the Buckeyes bounced back on the road against a desperate Minnesota team with 78-68 win. Leaving them with five games left, three on the road against Michigan, Northwestern and Michigan State and two at home against Illinois and Wisconsin. OSU is much more talented then their remaining opponents so it's likely they win out going in to their rematch against the Spartans.

Tom Izzo spoke about his team's focus after the victory at Ohio State. "This stat isn't on here, (but) where the game was won was in (Friday's) practice -- because I did something I never do: I almost walked through," said Izzo, "and that was odd for me. I listened to my players. And Draymond Green took care of the hotel, the airplane and the (actual) walk-through (Saturday) morning was the best I've had since Louisville (2009) in Indianapolis. It was just focused."

The Spartans will have to continue to keep their focus on one game at a time. It is very easy for a young team to get caught up in potential rewards and accomplishments. It will be interesting to see if the intensity the Spartans brought to Columbus last Saturday can carry them through the rest of the conference schedule.

Expect no "off" games this week for the Spartans. The challenge begins again this Thursday at home where Wisconsin will be looking for payback from last January's "uncontroversial" loss in Madison. Then MSU hits the road on Sunday as they travel to West Lafayette for a rematch with Purdue.

Current Big Ten Standings

#6 Ohio State10-3--22-4
#8 Michigan State9-3.520-5
#19 Michigan9-4119-7
#17 Wisconsin8-41.519-6
#20 Indiana7-6319-6
Penn State3-10711-15

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