Michigan State basketball will enter the 2018 NCAA Tournament on a sour note, as the Spartans saw their 13-game winning streak snapped in a Big Ten Tournament semifinal loss to Michigan. Head coach Tom Izzo doesn’t sound concerned.
“First of all, if fans are upset about four losses, they’re crazy. No insult intended,” Izzo said Tuesday on “The Mad Dog Show” on WVFN 730-AM in Lansing (via the Detroit Free Press’ Chris Solari) . “It’s just crazy. I mean, we lost to Duke early in the year. Yes, we lost to our rival twice, and they deserved to beat us – we didn’t play as well as we should. … I just think that if that’s what people expect, shame on them.”
Michigan State enters March Madness with 29-4 record (including the Big Ten Tournament). Izzo’s team had one early-season loss to Duke, then fell to Ohio State and Michigan in a three-game stretch in January. Those were the Spartans’ only regular-season losses, but they’re still dogged by critics due to an uninspiring non-conference slate and and a mostly-lackluster year for the Big Ten as a conference.
Michigan State’s talent hasn’t been the problem this season, as surefire NBA draft picks Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr. are far from the only potential pro players who see the court in East Lansing. Center Nick Ward, point guard Cassius Winston and shooting guard Joshua Langford are all talented, all sophomores and all capable of magical play on their own.
Michigan State’s loss to Michigan knocked the Spartans down to a No. 3-seed in Joe Lunardi’s latest bracketology on ESPN. There’s still time for them to move back to the 2-line if Duke, North Carolina or Cincinnati falter. Lunardi’s projection has Purdue as a No. 2 seed and Michigan as a fellow No. 3 seed.