EAST LANSING - After opening their conference schedule with two tough road losses,
Michigan State comes home, where they are 11-0 this season, to face
Northwestern on Wednesday night.
Although both teams are in search of their first Big Ten victory on
the season, the Spartans (13-4, 0-2) have dominated the Wildcats (10-5,
0-2), winning 34 of the last 36 meetings overall and 19 straight in East
Heading into Iowa for their Big Ten opener, the Spartans were 13-2 and
on a seven game win streak. But after suffering a heartbreaking loss to
the Hawkeyes by two points, the Spartans were blown out by Indiana by
Now MSU must find a way to come together and show a much better effort
at home, where the fans will be loud and ready.
“Part of it is that some teams have played better, and part of it is
that we have played worse,” said Coach Tom Izzo. “We’ve got to find a way
to regroup and win a game at home. Hopefully we can get back on track
In no way is it time for the Spartans to panic. The fact remains,
Maurice Joseph returned to action against Iowa and Raymar Morgan made his
return from injury against Indiana, and now MSU has two key starters
Exactly like last season, the Spartans dropped their first two Big Ten
games, both on the road, at Illinois and Wisconsin.
“I think four straight years we have started out Big Ten play on the
road and the last two years we have started with two road games. It’s not
an excuse, we’re used to that and injuries make it much tougher because
of the lack of practice and depth,” said Izzo.
The Spartans face a Wildcat team that lost their top scorer and the Big
Ten leading scorer from last season. Freshman Kevin Doyle leads the
team with 12.4 points per game and five rebounds per game.
The contest features the two best scoring defense in the Big Ten, with
Michigan State at 56.4 points per game a close second to first place
Northwestern, allowing only 55.9 points per contest.
“We must improve, I think we’re going to improve, I’m not very happy
with the way we’ve played,” said Izzo. “I still think we are what we are.
We are a great basketball team when we are healthy. We have a chance to
be a lot better than I thought we would be. We are the only team that
has two road games to start off the Big Ten season,” he added.
Road games in the Big Ten are always tough and there are absolutely no
easy games. Every team in the conference plays hard and defends their
home court, so if there was any panic in any MSU fans, keep in mind that
MSU plays strong at home.
As long as the Spartans can take care of business at home in conference
play and pull out several road wins, then they can be as high as third
and no lower than sixth place in the conference.
Last year the Spartans finished 8-8 in conference play, going 6-2 at
home and 2-6 on the road. While the conference is still strong this
season, there are fewer strong teams than last season.
Only Wisconsin and Ohio State are nationally ranked while last year the
Big Ten had as many as six teams ranked in the same poll.
The fact that the Big Ten is weaker than last season opens the door for
some winnable road games further on in the Big Ten season. The Spartans
still travel to Penn State, Ohio State, Illinois, Purdue, Michigan and
While Illinois, Ohio State, and Illinois are hostile venues to play in,
the remaining three road games are winnable game, assuming that MSU
regroups and gets stronger as they get further into conference play.
It is still no time to panic for MSU, with a two-game home stand
against Northwestern and Illinois now at hand, it is MSU’s chance to work out
some kinks and get a bit healthy before they travel to Columbus to take
on the monster Ohio State.