Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Spartans lose 3rd straight road game, fall to Illini

                                                                                                                 (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Michigan State fell to Illinois on the road, 42-41 in a low scoring pre-shot clock era good ole Big Ten slug fest! Felt more like the Spartans slugged themselves in the face with poor shooting and untimely turnovers. This marked the 3rd B1G road loss in a row. However, losing this game is not even the biggest concern.

In the wake of the loss to Illinois, the biggest story coming out of the game is the health of Draymond Green going forward. Green hurt his knee with under 4 minutes to play and never came back. He watched from the bench as the Spartans lost opportunities to seize the game and fell 42-41 to Illinois. It was the UofM game all over again. Where MSU found themselves in a game they could steal after a sub par performance but let late game opportunities slip. None bigger then the Derrick Nix missed free throw down just 2 and close range lay up that Keith Appling missed in the final seconds.

Post game the main concern is how long Day-Day remains out with the knee injury. Green played the game with an illness and found himself in major foul trouble early in the 1st half when he got called for a offensive foul and T'd up for his 3rd after he made a gestured towards the ref. Green sat for the remainder of the half and the team struggled.

Branden Dawson was again the best player on the floor. Dawson had his 2nd double-double of the season scoring 12 points and grabbing 12 rebounds (7 offensive). He is just so physically gifted that when he puts together an offensive package he is going to dominate. Izzo must put together sets that will get Dawson more offensive opportunities. He is just a freshman, but deserves an opportunity to shoulder the offensive burden especially with Green surely due to miss some games.

On a night when they really needed Keith Appling to step up he had his worst offensive output of the season. Not to place the entire blame on Keith, the team overall shot 24% from the field. Lately his 3 point shot has been off. His offensive numbers have not been strong the past 4 games. He is running the point, but at the same time must be a major scoring threat for the team.  It is very important that he work his way in to becoming consistent scorer. With Green expected to miss time he will have to play much more efficiently. Appling's defense will always be there but he must pick up his scoring numbers. I can appreciate Appling being aggressive at the end of the Illinois game. If the game is on the line he has to be the closer.

In the press conference Izzo looked dejected and said he was very disappointed in the team. For the first time Izzo stated that he felt like his team cracked in adversity. At the same time he acknowledged that his two best players simply just had their worst games. This loss hurts, but we Spartans fans know the deal. Izzo is a grinder, his team is made of grinders so they'll work their way through this and pull these close games out, guaranteed!

This Super Bowl Sunday brings on another challenge when Michigan visits the Breslin Center. Appling & Co. will have an opportunity to make up for late game lapses in Ann Arbor last month. I sense there will be a huge confidence boast playing at home, the Spartans should come out ready and firing against their in-state rival.

The Spartans have to built a road warrior mentality the rest of the way. The B1G title is out of reach if they can not string road wins together.

Spartans v. Illini - a Vegas preview

The Michigan State Spartans and the Illinois Fighting Illini square off today at University of Illinois Assembly Hall at 7:00PM on ESPN.

The Spartans are a 2 point favorite (-2) with the over/under at 128.

Last week Michigan State was a 68-52 winner against Minnesota at home. They covered as a 9-point favorite.
Illinois lost its last outing, a 77-72 result against Minnesota on January 28. They failed to cover in that game as a 4.5-point underdog.
Michigan State at a glace: (SU = straight up; ATS = against the spread)
Team record: 17-4 SU, 13-6 ATS
MSU has won 2 straight games.
The total has gone UNDER in 8 of last 10 games when playing on the road against Illinois.

is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games on the road
is 6-12 SU in its last 18 games on the road
is 3-6 SU in its last 9 games when playing on the road against Illinois
When playing on Tuesday are 7-1
Before playing Michigan are 6-4
After playing Minnesota are 8-2
After a win are 9-1

My recommendation is to take MSU in the 1st (-1) half and for the game (-2). Illinois is a team that plays well at home, but the Spartans have proven the ability to go on the road and get wins in tough environments. My prediction for the point total is that it goes over. The winner will score in the mid 70s.

For an inside look at the numbers go to the Spartan Daily Lines page
Next up:
Michigan State home to Michigan, Sunday, February 5

Monday, January 30, 2012

Demetrious Cox to pick Spartans

4 Star  recruit Demetrious Cox to Michigan State
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that Demetrious Cox of Jeannette High School, will commit to Michigan State tonight.

Cox, 6' 1" - 195lb is recruited to be a defensive back. He is an explosive athlete on both sides of the ball with terrific play speed and sudden change-of-direction. On offense as a quarterback he accounted for 16 total touchdowns, running for 12 and throwing for four. He amassed more than 2,000 yards offense, rushing for 1,263 yards and throwing for 910 during the 2011 season.

Defensively, Cox was part a defensive unit that held seven of 10 opponents to 13 points or less. He recorded 3 interceptions for Jeannette as a safety. Cox is ranked as the 10th best prospect in Pennsylvania and the 8th best safety in the nation according to scout.com. ESPN ranks him as the 28th best athlete overall.

A huge win for the Spartan Football coaching staff who lost out on the services of DE Se'Von Pittman and DB Jordan Diggs, both highly rated this past recruiting season.

Michigan State beat out plenty of suitors with the likes of Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Arkansas in hot pursuit.  

More to come soon. Check out the Spartan Recruiting page for the latest developments.  

Spartans back in top 10, RPI still #4

More Spartan celebrations to come
Coming off a milestone victory last Wednesday, Michigan State is back in the top 10 in this week's polls.

The AP ranks MSU at #9, while the Coaches polls has MSU up to #10. On a side note, I find it comical that there seems to be a debate on ranking Murry State ahead or behind MSU. Looks like the AP got it right. The Racers of Murry State are holding down the 33rd best RPI in America, compared to MSU who holds the 4th best number.

The latest ESPN bracketology projection for the Spartans remained unchanged from last week with MSU projected in as a 3 seed in the East bracket.

Last week MSU had the 4th best RPI number and that remained the same this week. However, the strength of schedule (SOS) has moved to the 2nd toughest in college basketball.

The current RPI ranking for MSU should justify at least a 2 seed to this point, so not sure if good ol' Joe Lunardi just got lazy in updating his projections. The B1G Conference continues to remain the strongest boasting 9 teams in the RPI top 51. 

Check out the last RPI rankings below, B1G teams in bold and MSU non-conference opponents in italics:

4Michigan State1640.660720.6075
7Ohio State1930.6483310.5695
9North Carolina1830.6415300.5696
11Southern Miss1730.6377550.5559
17West Virginia1570.620130.6032
18St. Mary's1920.61991100.5226
20San Diego State1630.6193710.5459
21Florida State1460.618660.5972
22Colorado State1360.618490.5945
31Wichita State1740.6061760.5435
32Seton Hall1560.6056180.5790
33Murray State1800.60542270.4738
34Long Beach State1460.6042700.5464

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Le'Veon Bell will shine in 2012

Bell brings the Beast to East Lansing

This coming season Le'Veon Bell will be the best running back in the B1G Conference and First-Team All-American.

As the 2012 Michigan State Football off-season looms, the Spartans are getting some very early preseason buzz. In most early rankings, MSU Football is nearly in every top 10. The loss of senior starters along with 2 early departures has not left as many holes as one would think. The 2012 Spartans bring back 9 of 11 defensive starters who were apart of a top 5 defense in the nation. Red-shirt junior QB Andrew Maxwell will bring maturity and stability after developing in the program the last 3 years. The wide receivers are young, but the addition of Tennessee transfer DeAnthony Arnett has answered many of the questions. The running back position again will contain a stable of talented backs, however it is time for one in particular to break through nationally. 

Le'Veon Bell has not yet had a full season as the primary back. Bell started off his freshman year HOT, rushing for 396 yards and 7 TDs in the first four games. However, Bell suffered a shoulder injury which played a role in his lack of production and playing time. Last year he started out as the back up to Edwin Baker, but his play on the field forced coaches to push him in to the starting line up for the lion's share of the carries. His production included 1,215 total yards (948 rush) and 13 TDs, which was all done with an inexperienced offensive line that shuffled through four different starting combinations. Being the feature back for a full year will bring on even more opportunities to produce. Junior RB Edwin Baker leaving early for the NFL opened the door for the Spartans to finally have a true lead back. One that Coach Mark Dantonio has been waiting for since Javon Ringer.

With four starting offensive lineman coming back there will be continuity with the o-line that did not exist last off season. With a new starting quarterback, the MSU offense will feature Le'Veon Bell in all phases of the game plan. The coaching staff will rely heavily on his offensive production especially with having young raw talent at the WR position. Le'Veon has proven to be a reliable ball carrier and tough runner, which was evident in his last 2 games against Wisconsin and Georgia. The versatility Bell brings as a runner, pass catcher and blocker makes him an every down back capable of explosive plays. Bell's combination of size, speed, and strength make him a very unique player at his position. The offensive will likely transition in to a more run heavy attack which could be a spring board in to Bell being the first real Spartan Heisman candidate in years.

The numbers (2,000 yards, 20 TDs) that Edwin Baker set out to achieve in the 2011 season are more realistic this year for number 24. Bell did not take as much punishment as he could have his freshman year. For example look at someone like Marcus Lattimore at South Carolina. The Gamecocks were very reliant on him his freshman year as a starter and rode his production for the most of last year also until he tore his ACL. Even going back to another great freshman in Adrian Peterson when he was at Oklahoma. His freshman numbers were off the charts (1,925 rushing yards) but his production tailed off his sophomore and junior years due to injury. My point is that a freshman phenom running backs can peak in their production too early causing more injury later in their college career due to extra carries and playing time. The fact that Bell has been protected from wear and tear his first two years only opens up more possibility for a monster statistical year.

What about Monte Ball you ask! Well, I believe "Money Ball" takes a step back in production numbers. His numbers last year are hard to argue against, but may have been inflated somewhat due to the huge Wisconsin offensive line and having star QB Russell Wilson, who set the NCAA record for passing efficiency. Ball will still be a force, however the loss of key senior starters and inexperience at the QB position spells trouble for the Badgers offense. You could argue for Ball with the same reasoning behind Bell putting up numbers, but MSU is bringing back a much better team with a older and more talented QB taking over.

Le'Veon Bell having a huge year for MSU could lead to his early departure in to the NFL after his junior season. I used to believe Bell would be a 4 year player, but a big year could change all that. The pass heavy NFL is looking for running backs just like Bell who have enough size to block in pass protection along with having the versatility to catch out of the back field and from the wide receiver positions.

With the all of the preseason hype for the Spartan Football team overall, Bell is sure to be on every offensive award watch list. At the end of 2012 Le'Veon Bell will be solidified as one of the best running backs in America.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Spartan NFL Draft buzz

Michigan State Football is looking to put in as many as 8 players in to the NFL this year. Getting all 8 drafted might be a stretch, but here's a look at current grades and scouting reports for those hoping to get their names called in April.

Kirk Cousins, 6'-3" - 205lb, Sr. QB - Selected to play in the Senior Bowl. Cousins has been given a wide range of grades from a 2nd rounder to early 5th. His strong arm, quick release under pressure and leadership qualities are what make him a promising prospect. He is the all time leader in wins for an MSU quarterback. At the next level, he'll need to really improve his ability to pull the trigger and trust his talent for reading defenses. He doesn't always make the right pre-snap reads and if he is shuffling around the pocket, his mechanics struggle. Cousins does just about everything well, but no particular skill really jumps out. There are a lot of second-tier quarterbacks who may push him into the later rounds, so he will need to show scouts his ability to scramble and extend plays.

B.J. Cunningham, 6'-2" - 216lb, Sr. WR - Cunningham is Michigan State's all time leader in receptions and receiving yards. Through out his career he has shown strong hands catching balls in traffic and making acrobatic receptions. His speed is not elite level, but he has been able to showcase a strong ability to run after the catch. His route running has been called average to good. Selected to play in the East West Shrine game last week where he scored the first TD of the game with a 17 yard reception. During the week of practice leading up to the game Cunningham separated himself from the other wide receivers. He even impressed ESPN's draft guru Tood McShay.

"I think this year the player that's really standing out above all else is B.J. Cunningham, the wide receiver from Michigan State," McShay said during the East team's practice. "He's shown that he can separate from any of the defensive backs here one-on-one, very good understanding of reading defenses and how to find soft spots in zones, and he's strong catching the football, doing a good job in traffic and then getting up the field. He really is standing out. There are some other good receivers here, like Junior Hemingway from Michigan and Jarius Wright from Arkansas, but to me, B.J. Cunningham is in a class of his own and could be really solidifying a spot in that third-round range."

 Jerel Worthy, 6'3" - 310lb, Jr. DT - First Team All-American Jerel Worthy chose to forgo his senior year to declare for the NFL draft. As a junior Worthy became an important part of one of the top defenses in the country. His ability to take on double teams and apply pressure at the point of attacked allowed the Spartan defense to blitz freely.  Worthy takes up plenty of space and has shown an ability to grab a player with one arm and, all in one motion, bring the ball-carrier into his chest and down to the ground.

When he does pass rush, he shows a good bull rush, swim move, and rip move. Worthy will make a great fit at either defensive tackle positions in a 4-3 defense. Overall, Worthy is a very good prospect with a great diversity to his game that opposing offenses respect. His combination of athleticism and brute physicality will be a highly appreciated set of commodities. Currently he is projecting as a late 1st to early 2nd round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Trenton Robinson, 5'10" - 195lb, Sr. SS - Selected to play in the Senior Bowl. The senior strong safety started for 3 years and was responsible for the Michigan State resurgence in the defensive back field the past 2 seasons. Last season Robinson became quite the ball hawk driving on throws in front of him and cleanly re-directing laterally and getting over the top in center field. Robinson is a guy who can contribute early on a defense and special teams and develop in to an NFL started. May end up falling to the later rounds or going undrafted.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Izzo gets 400

                                                                                                           (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

Michigan State over powered the Minnesota Gophers last night at the Breslin Center for a 68-52 win. Giving Coach Tom Izzo his 400th career victory, becoming only the 4th B1G coach to reach 400 wins at one school (Bobby Knight, Gene Keady, and Lou Henson).

The Spartans were tested early in the first and second halves but responded with great shooting, defense and rebounding. The Spartans shot 54% from the field, out rebounded the Gophers by 12 and held them to 38% shooting. The defense collected 10 steals and 8 blocks.

Draymond Green put up a great performance scoring 22 points, grabbing 14 rebounds along with dishing out 6 assists. Izzo got another stand out scoring night from freshman Branden Dawson where he scored 16 points on 7 of 10 shooting tying his career high. The combination of Green and Dawson on the wings and in the paint has wreaked havoc the last 2 games which are good signs going in the 2nd half of the B1G season.

At the end of the game emotions overcame Izzo. He acknowledged his mentor Jud Heathcote and all the great MSU players from the present and past. Izzo stated that he was appreciative to be part of a great tradition and institution.

"I guess I've withstood the test of time," Izzo stated. "Now I'm only 427 victories away from Mike Krzyzewski." Actually it's 516 coach!

The fan appreciation was felt in the stands and beyond. Spartan Nation is forever indebted for what Tom Izzo has done for the school and athletic program. BTN announcer Gus Johnson summed it up best as the buzzer sounded when he said "Tom Izzo is a Michigan Institution!"

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Spartans v. Gophers a Vegas Preview

The Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Michigan State Spartans meet Wednesday, 1/25 at Breslin Center. The game will be televised on BTN starting at 8:30pm EST.

The Spartans are currently a -9/5 point favorite with the over/under at 132.5.

Minnesota won its last outing, a 75-52 result against Northwestern on January 22. They covered in that game as a 5-point favorite.
Michigan State was an 83-58 winner in their most recent outing at home against Purdue. They covered the 8-point spread as favorites.
Michigan State at a glace: (SU = straight up; ATS = against the spread)
Team record: 16-4 SU, 12-6 ATS 
is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games at home
is 12-1 SU in its last 13 games when playing at home against Minnesota
is 10-1 SU in its last 11 games when playing Minnesota

The total has gone OVER in 5 of last 5 games at home
When playing on Wednesday are 7-3
Before playing Illinois are 7-3
After playing Purdue are 6-4
After a win are 9-1
Next up:
Michigan State at Illinois, Tuesday, January 31

For more betting information go to: The Spartan Daily Lines page

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Spartans almost even in the polls and up in RPI

                                                                                                              (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

Despite losing 2 in a row before a blow out win against Purdue, Michigan State barely missed the top 10 in both polls. This week the Spartans come in ranked #10 in the AP and #11 in the Coaches poll. 

The latest ESPN Bracketology projection has MSU in as a 3 seed in the East bracket. And interestingly enough the projected field includes 8 B1G teams, which would be the most in quite some time if not ever.

 MSU did see an increase in their RPI ranking which is back up to #4. If the Spartans continue to handle their business and win the B1G outright a #1 seed could be possible which was unthinkable at the beginning of the year.

Check out the last RPI rankings below, B1G teams in bold and MSU non-conference opponents in italics:
4Michigan State1540.656150.6037
8Seton Hall1540.6458130.5899
9Ohio State1730.6451300.5684
12North Carolina1630.6356340.5658
12West Virginia1550.635620.6062
15Southern Miss1530.6308550.5536
21Florida State1360.616340.6040
23Colorado State1250.6142190.5831
24Kansas State1440.6141380.5644
25Wichita State1630.6124660.5454
27San Diego State1520.6110980.5282
32St. Mary's1720.60851280.5127
33Murray State1700.60802190.4773

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Branden Dawson, Spartans Blast Boilers

Branden Dawson

Michigan State rolled passed Purdue in a blow out win, 83-58.

The Spartans shook off a cold start shooting and a hustling Boilermaker squad to gain a 7 point half time lead. In the 2nd half the Spartans re-established the paint and hit on open jump shots. Turning a 12 point lead in to 25 with in minutes. The Boilermakers were never able to put up a fight. The entire team dealt with travel delay issues that may have played a role in causing fatigue. Regardless, MSU answered the adversary of losing 2 games in a row again by coming with a dominant performance.  

Branden Dawson scored 14 on 6 of 7 shooting along with 3rebs and 2blks.  It was Dawson's best scoring output since he scored 14 also against Leigh, 12/22.  Draymond Green flirted with a triple double going for 8pts, 12rebs and 7ast. Keith Appling was solid with 10pts, 5ast.
The surprise performance came from Austin Thornton who continues to amaze and frustrate Spartan fan everywhere. Thornton came out firing hitting back to back 3s and finished with 11 points going 3 of 4 from 3pt. It has everyone wondering if that loss to U of M could have been avoided if Thornton would have pulled the trigger on the final position. Thornton will continue to make mistakes, but when he is contributing on offense it gives the bench a tremendous push.  

The big story here outside of the Purdue travel issues was the performance of Branden Dawson who finally seemed to emerge as a true All American. Dawson seemed to be the most athletic player on the court at all times. He scored from an array of inside moves, pull up jumpers and alley oop throw downs. Late in the 2nd half there seemed to be a verbal exchange between Dawson (a former Purdue recruit) and Purdue head coach Matt Painter. Not sure what was said but Painter was clearly responding to something Dawson said. 

However, Dawson put an end to speculation on his intent when he tweeted after the game:

 "Big win today. We snapped a two game losing streak & I have no problem with Coach Painter, he's a great coach & I respect him." - @219MadeMe (Branden Dawson twitter)

Dawson is someone who is going to have to get more minutes down the stretch. If the inside presence of Green, Dawson, Derrick Nix and Adrien Payne get going like they did today, MSU will likely generate another 10 plus game winning streak.  


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Denzel Valentine: Spartan Recruiting Profile

SG Denzel Valentine MSU Recruiting Class of 2012

Denzel Valentine is the No. 80 overall player and No. 13 shooting guard in the senior class according to Rivals.com

Valentine brings all around ball skills with great size to the Spartan Basketball team next year. Scouts think that he may continue to grow a few inches taller. Playing time right away on the wing should not be an issue especially with the eventual loss of Draymon Green to graduation. Valentine is a player who will look for others' offense as much as his own and should turn in to a excellent defender who can guard multiple positions. 

"Denzel brings to us the ability to do a lot of different things," said Tom Izzo. "His versatility is his strongest suit. He can actually play some point, he can play the two, he can play the three, at 6-5 or 6-6 he can guard a variety of people. He has great body strength. He has a tremendous basketball IQ. As his shooting continues to improve, and his defense has to improve like all freshman, I think he too has a chance to be a very solid performer here at Michigan State. With his family background, he is another guy that has a passion to be here."

Valentine led his Lansing Sexton to a Class B state championship last fall and the Class B semifinals the previous year as a sophomore. Valentine averaged 12.7 points, 7.9 rebounds, 8.5 assists, 5.4 steals, and 1.1 blocks per game as a junior.

“I felt like I just could have the best career there. Being a hometown kid, pretty much it’s the dream school for everybody that lives in the area,” Valentine said. “I just talked it over with my mom, my brother, my dad. I got every input, how they felt, and pretty much everybody said Michigan State is the place for me.”

Izzo also recognizes the Valentine family's special connection with MSU.

"Denzel Valentine is a full circle guy," explained Izzo. "His dad was here when I first came here, we recruited him out of DeMatha High School, one of the greatest high schools. In fact, he was just inducted into their hall of fame. Both his sons have played, one at Oakland and now we get Denzel here. Both of them had very good high school careers."

Valentine committed to Michigan State during the second week in August two summers ago. He visited five campuses in addition to Michigan State: Michigan, Oakland, Georgetown, Notre Dame and Iowa. Among other schools in heavy pursuit of his services were Drake, Butler, Utah and Xavier.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Spartan perspective in a 3rd straight loss to U of M

"Do I respect John Beilein? Tremendously. Do I respect their school? Tremendously," Izzo said. "Do I like them? Not one bit."

In the aftermath of a 3rd straight loss to the Michigan Wolverines, the sting of losing was felt beyond the game. To a Spartan fan losing to Michigan brings on bitterness and a need to defend MSU Basketball to the Michigan fan base. But that's how we as Michigan State fans are supposed to feel when we lose to our primary rival.

Had the Spartans pulled the win out last night at Crysler Arena, it would have been business as usual for MSU. However, the final result has now opened more conversation about what this current losing streak actually means to both teams.

Is Michigan Basketball catching up? Is MSU finally going to show their youth and inexperience?

Currently, I do not believe UofM is anywhere near the Spartan Basketball Program. They have recruited well the past 3 years and the games have always remained somewhat competitive. Until the Wolverines accomplish a B1G Championship or significant Final Four run they will be looked at and judged as the "little brother" basketball program. Spartan fans should always hold their heads high in a win or a loss because of what the program has meant locally (2009 Final Four in Detroit) and nationally (6 Final Fours in 13 years). 

The main different between the football and basketball rivalries is that a loss in basketball does not kill your season since there's this playoff thing that runs in March. This recent loss hurts, but MSU is still in the thick of the B1G race and only has 4 loses compared to 15 wins. Be confident that Coach Izzo will get this team peaking at the right time.

The negative moment swings of a college basketball season are hard to overcome, but we are still in January and MSU is still on the national radar to do something special this year.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Spartans slip in latest top 25 polls and RPI

                                                                                                          (AP Photo/Brian Kersey)
 MSU basketball is ranked #9 in both polls this week.

With the 15 game win streak ending last Saturday at Northwestern the Spartans dropped down a few places in the AP and Coaches Polls where they were ranked #6 and #7 respectively.  

The latest Joe Lunardi Bracketology has MSU projected as a 3 seed in the South bracket.

The Spartans still have a high RPI rating of 0.6606 which is 6th best in the country, down from the #4 spot last week. 

B1G teams are in bold. MSU non-conference opponents in italics.

5Seton Hall1530.660960.5988
6Michigan State1430.660650.6007
7Ohio State1630.6447240.5725
15Southern Miss1430.6290540.5530
17West Virginia1350.627930.6068
20North Carolina1530.6220530.5533
22Colorado State1140.6183140.5814
24St. Mary's1520.6160980.5278
29Murray State1500.60902180.4786
30Northern Iowa1260.607390.5875
31Kansas State1240.6068330.5667
32Wichita State1430.6056680.5441
For rankings 35 - 68 click read more.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Spartan Football Recruiting Updates

WR Aaron Burbridge rated #1 overall in MI
Aaron Burbridge is the prized recruit of the 2012 Spartan recuiting class.

See where the other top 25 football recruits in MI landed.

For the latest MSU recruiting notes and updates go the the Spartan Recruiting page: http://www.spartanstate.com/p/spartan-recruting.html

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Wildcats put end to 15 game win streak

                                                                                                          (AP Photo/Brian Kersey)

The Michigan State Spartans came up short today at Northwestern. The final score was 81 -74. Leading performances for the Spartans were Draymond Green (14pts, 14rebs) and Keith Appling (17pts, 3assist, 2stls).

MSU started the game strong with consistent shooting and good defense. They built a 9 point lead that was salted away by the NW 3 point shooting and back door cutting lay ups. 

The Spartans stayed tough in the 2nd half after poor shooting and fought back from a 12 point deficit. MSU was unable to get defense stops and NW came up with points after running down the shot clock on nearly every possession. The shooting of Wildcats John Shurna and Drew Crawford torched the Spartan defense with 22 and 20 points respectively.

Give NW credit for playing tough against the Spartans. They were a desperate team, but MSU needs to be able to beat teams on the road they are physically better then. At some point MSU will need to push tempo and impose their athleticism against the middle level teams of the B1G. 

What happened the Branden Dawson? Dawson scored 9pts and grabbed 6rebs, a good game that could have been great. He is not getting the opportunities on offense. He only put the ball up 3 times! AND made all 3 shots. I do not understand why Coach Izzo does not give Dawson more then 25 minutes a game. Clearly, this is not the reason MSU lost, but it's another game where Dawson does not seem to be getting more opportunities to score when he show brilliant flashes of moves to the basket. Not sure if it's the turnovers that keep him on the bench.

MSU out rebounded NW by 12 and shot 46% from the field which included 9 of 18 from 3pt. In the end the 13 turnovers and 10 missed free throws are what doomed the Spartans.

Next up for the Spartans: @ MICHIGAN, Tuesday 7:00PM on ESPN

Friday, January 13, 2012

Poll Results: Who is the most valuable player on the Spartan Basketball team?

The results are in!

The fans have spoken on who they feel is the most valuable Spartan on this year's team.

No surprise here:

Draymon Green - 76%

Keith Appling - 23 %

Derrick Nix - 0%

Brandon Wood - 0%

Congrats Day-Day!

Thanks to all who voted!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Paying My Respects

15 IN-A-ROW!

With the current win streak the Spartans are getting their due.

The Michigan State Spartan basketball team is experiencing one of the best regular seasons of any past Tom Izzo lead teams. The year started off with 2 straight loses (UNC & Duke), however since then everyone is talking about the Spartans. They are the hottest team in American outside of Syracuse. In what was supposed to be a rebuilding year even the greatest Michigan State pundits (Seth Davis) are jumping on the bandwagon picking the Spartans to get to their 7th Final Four in 14 years. Who's next to make a Spartan  jump Doug Gottlieb?

The Spartan basketball team stayed tough against against North Caroline and Duke. They pushed around a supposedly bigger Florida State team and went on the road and won at Gonzaga, a place that most elite programs in the country would not dare to go. The 4-0 start in the B1G season includes big wins at home against Indiana and on the road against Wisconsin. All of this is evidence of a great team in the making. The exciting thing for Spartan fans is that Izzo still does not believe this team has hit it's ceiling.

With all of the praise this team is getting the one common theme brought up by broadcasters, analysis, and writers is how much better off this team is without players from the 2010 - 2011 team.  I've heard everything from, "no more selfishness" to "no more drama from the last 2 years" and "lack of leadership." All of those quotes represent different issues that went on from the last 2 years. The word "entitled" is being thrown around describing last year's preseason #2 team.

Of course they felt entitled! They came off back-to-back Final Fours and were bringing back the entire core of 2010 Final Four team. Every magazine cover or article that was written about them only further pumped up their entitlement. I'm not making excuses for that team's performance, but am willing to look at other factors that lead to the detriment of their season. There was the possibility of losing their head coach, two surprising dismissals that effected team chemistry and an overall run of bad luck (injuries, missed free throws, etc.).

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Spartans Cruise to 15th Straight Victory

Michigan State rolled to a 15th straight victory Tuesday night (95-61) at home against Iowa.

MSU had not played since last week's thriller at Wisconsin, so many expected the Spartans to come out flat against an Iowa team that pulled off road victories at Wisconsin and at Minnesota.  

However, the Spartans displayed their best shooting performance of year. Scoring 95 points on 62% shooting which included 10-18 from the 3 point line (56%).  Five players scored in double figures lead by Draymond Green (22pts, 9rebs, 5assists) and Keith Appling (15pts, 9assists, 3stls, 0 TOs). As a team they totaled 25 assists on 37 made field goals.  

MSU jumped out to a double figure lead early in the first half and remained in control for the entire game. The defense held Iowa to 37% shooting and had 16 steals.   

And yet there is still room for improvement with this team. The turnovers were still a little too high (15) and the rebound margin was only 4 (Hard to get offensive rebounds when everything is going in!). 

"It's been a special team already because they've done what we've asked them to do -- defend and rebound," Tom Izzo said. "I keep feel like I'm downgrading us, but I feel like we still have so much to learn and that's why we were coaching to the end because we don't want to get casual." 

It appears as if this team is primed to compete for the B1G crown in what many observed was going to be a down year for Spartan Basketball. MSU is off to their best winning streak since the 1998-99 season.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Preview Michigan State v. Iowa - Vegas Style

The Iowa Hawkeyes and the Michigan State Spartans square off today 7:00pm EST at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, MI. The game is televised on BTN. 

The Spartans are the current favorite at -14. The over/under line is currently at 141.5.
In their last game, Iowa was a 76-47 loser at home against Ohio State and did not cover the 11.5 point spread as underdogs.
Michigan State won last week, 63-60 against Wisconsin in Madison. They covered in that game as a 6.5 point underdog.
Michigan State at a glace: (SU = straight up; ATS = against the spread)
Team record: 14-2 SU, 10-4 ATS
Current streak: won 14 straight games.
is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games when playing at home against Iowa
is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games at home
The total has gone OVER in 5 of last 5 games at home
When playing on Tuesday are 9-1
Before playing Northwestern are 7-3
After playing Wisconsin are 9-1
After a win are 10-0

For more betting information go to: The Spartan Daily Lines page

Monday, January 9, 2012

Current MSU odds to the win the B1G Conference

What are the current odds the Spartans win the B1G Basketball Conference this year?

Here's what Vegas thinks, according to the SuperBook at the Las Vegas Hilton.

Michigan State (14-2 overall, 3-0 Big Ten) — 4:1

The Spartans have the 2nd best odds to win the conference.

For the rest of the conference odds click read more.

MSU Basketball up in the polls and RPI

Spartans are back at it! (AP)
Monday's college basketball polls are out and MSU is up to their top ten ways once again.

The AP Top 25 has MSU ranked #6 while the Coaches Poll has them ranked #7.  Quite a climb up after starting off the year unranked!

The Spartans next three games include home against Iowa (1/10), at Northwestern (1/14) and at Michigan (1/17). 

The latest ESPN Bracketology projection has MSU in as a #2 seed in the Midwest Bracket. 

Currently, MSU has the 4th best RPI number in the country. The importance of the RPI number is significant because it's one of the criteria items the NCAA tournament selection committee looks at to determine who gets in and bracket seeding.

Check out the lastest RPI numbers from around the country (B1G teams in bold, MSU non-conference opponents in italics):

Only games against D-I opponents are exhibited on team records.

                                     W   L     RPI   SOS Rank  SOS
 1Syracuse17  0   0.7109   1      0.6146
2Seton Hall14  2   0.6752   4     0.6073
3Duke13  2    0.6717   3     0.6075
4Michigan State13  2    0.6649   8     0.5956
5Baylor14  0    0.6645   51     0.5527
6Indiana15  1    0.6567   38     0.5584
7Connecticut12  3    0.6515   7     0.6020
8Kentucky15  1    0.6471   57     0.5487
9Georgetown12  2    0.6460    21     0.5774
10Gonzaga13  2    0.6444    12     0.5843
11Ohio State15  2    0.6431    41     0.5569
Click read more for rankings 12 - 68.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Korie Lucious Effect

Happier times at MSU for Korie Lucious

Who didn't love Korie Lucious, the scoring point guard with enough swag to fill up Spartan Stadium. From the moment he filled in for Kalin Lucas in the 2010 NCAA Tourney (buzzer beater) he showed tremendous moxy. It gave us a sense that someday he might be a star for MSU and that losing Lucas to graduation would not sting as bad.

However, when Korie Lucious was dismissed from the Michigan State Basketball team last year I felt like it was going to hurt this year's team tremendously. Mainly because it meant losing 4 years of experience at a crucial position for our offense. As a senior point guard Lucious would have been the instant go-to player. He showed flashes last year, like his 20 point, 8 assist out burst against Duke at Cameron Indoor. That game Lucious went at Kyrie Irving and for most of the game was the only player on our team who was unafraid of the moment.

Jabari Parker's Simeon team featured on ESPN2

Jabari Parker of Simeon went up against Tony Parker's Miller Grove squad
From ESPN.com:

"WHEELING, W.Va. -- Jabari Parker couldn’t have cared less about Miller Grove’s (Lithonia, Ga.) recent shortcomings.

Sure, he was aware that just 23 days ago Miller Grove was ranked No. 2 in the POWERADE FAB 50 and, yeah, he’d heard about Miller Grove's four-game losing streak. But the only thing Parker was concerned with was making certain he and his top-ranked Simeon (Chicago) squad extended that streak to five.

“I don’t care who we’re playing or what that team’s situation is,” said Parker, a junior swingman who is the No. 1 player in the ESPNU 60. “All we care about is leaving with a win.”

They did.

Parker scored 20 points and snagged six rebounds to keep No. 1 Simeon (13-0) undefeated with a 59-56 win over No. 34 Miller Grove (6-5) Saturday night at the Cancer Research Classic in Wheeling, W.Va., in a game televised on ESPN2.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

MSU misses on 4 Star Safety

Jordan Diggs is taking his play making to the SEC

Michigan State again has lost out on another highly rated defensive recruit.

Today Jordan Diggs, a 6 foot 190 pound safety prospect out of Cape Coral, FL has decided to verbally commit to the University of South Carolina. This is a player I was sure would commit to Michigan State.  His brother is former MSU safety Jeremy Ware, who currenlty plays for the Oakland Raiders.  There was lots of familiarity with the program along with multiple visits to East Lansing for camps and recruitment.

The scouting report on Diggs that he is a rangy yet physical safety prospect with great production. Has a tall and lengthy body that should continue to fill out to the 200-pound range and complement his aggressive playing style. Plays a lot faster than his testing times would indicate. Flashes very good range covering the hashes.

He would have fit in perfect for a defense that is losing their starting safety, Trenton Robinson to graduation.

This is the 2nd hit in the last month to our recruiting class with four star DE Sevon Pittman backing out of his verbal commitment to join the "Urban renewal" at Ohio State.

There are still a few weeks before signing period and I hope MSU is able to add some of the top prospects still out there (2012 Football Recruits still considering MSU).

Friday, January 6, 2012

An in-depth look at DeAnthony Arnett's transfer to MSU

Excepts from article: DeAnthony Arnett happy to be green
By: Jim Comparoni
SpartanMag.com Publisher
"I knew I was eventually going to get the unconditional release, so that decision to choose Michigan State was pretty much already set in stone in my mind," Arnett said. "I had to wait all the way until yesterday, to talk to Michigan State, when I got officially released. I didn't even want to reach out to them. I didn't do all that. I had to wait."

Arnett said he was confident that Michigan State would have a scholarship for him when he made contact with them.

"I didn't even talk to Michigan," he said. "I don't know if they called my high school or not, I didn't even try to talk to them."

Edwin Baker declares for the NFL...WHAT!?

"Rock" Baker gone to the NFL
In very surprising news Edwin Baker has informed Coach Mark Dantonio today that he is declaring for the 2012 NFL draft. Following in fellow teammate Jerel Worthy's footsteps. Baker stated that he wanted to skip his senior season to avoid injury.

Baker emerged as the lead running after a stellar sophomore season were he rushed for over 1,200 yards and scored 13 TDs.  "Rock" made a bold prediction last off season when he declared he would rush for over 2,000 yards and score north above 20 TDs (Baker makes season prediction here).  Now it looks like he stole Montee Ball's goal sheet.  (Ball announced yesterday he is returning for his senior season).

In somewhat of a down year statistically (665 yards, 5 TDs) and the loss of his starting spot to Le'Veon Bell, another year of improvement in production would have gone a long way in proving to NFL scouts he can tote the rock consistently. I'm sure he will get drafted in the late rounds or at the very least get a try out.  

This a blow to next year's offense, despite having Nick Hill in the waiting for carries. The 3 headed monster of Bell, Baker and Caper would have easily been one of the nation's top rushing attacks with a more experienced offensive line coming back. The numbers he put up against Michigan the last 2 years (314 yards 2TDs) will be greatly missed.

Good luck "Rock"!

Stardate 2012...Captain Kirk, where are you?

Senior Captain Kirk Cousins is leaving the Michigan State Enterprise.

Cousins is leaving Michigan State as the winningest quarterback in Spartan history with 26 victories, compiling a 26-12 record (.684) as the starting quarterback, including a 21-5 mark the past two seasons.  He is also MSU's career record holder in passing touchdowns (65) and completions (696).

So we're losing Kirk Cousins the Quarterback, we all know what kind of person he is off the field (B1G luncheon Speech).

The Real "Chosen One"

Where will he go? MSU? Duke? Kansas?
Who is Jabari Parker?  

Click read more to find out...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Madness?...This is Sparta!

MSU is going streaking! Through the quad, and into the gymnasium!
MSU Basketball is officially back!

Or did it never go away?  Either way, this year's Spartan Basketball team is back to playing Tom Izzo style basketball by punishing opponents with tough defense and relentless rebounding.  Riding high on a 14 game win streak, MSU (14-2) awaits their next match up Tuesday, January 10th at home against Iowa (10-6).

Michigan State is currently ranked #10 in the AP and #11 in the Coaches poll.

The latest ESPN power ranking has the Spartans up to #7 (ESPN Power Ranking Week 5)

NFL Worthy! Spartans Jerel Worthy to declare for NFL Draft.

Worthy brought the smack back to MSU defense
Today Michigan State defensive All-American Jerel Worthy announced he will enter the 2012 NFL Draft. 

“After a lot of deliberation with my family, a lot of sleepless nights,” Worthy said today, “I decided, for the benefit of myself as well as my family and my future, I would forgo my senior year.”

This news is somewhat of a blow to the Spartan defense next year, but no one can blame Worthy for leaving for the riches of the NFL. His stock won't likely get much higher.  Ask former MSU All-American linebacker Greg Jones what he would have done his junior year if he could have that decision back (drafted by the NY Giants in the 6th round after his production slipped his senior year).

Worthy came on to everybody's radar last year when he was rated as a top 10 NFL prospect by many analysts for the 2012 NFL Draft.

Mark Dantonio said Worthy received a “high” grade from the NFL. Currently, NFL draft experts are projecting Worthy as a mid-first- or second-round pick. Worthy said he has not yet hired an agent, leaving the door cracked slightly for a return.

Who can ever forget the big guy in the middle with the Spartan tattoo crushing a Wolverine!

Follow Jerel Worthy on twitter @I_AM_Worthy99

Call Reversed...Spartans get DeAnthony Arnett!