Busting Brackets

Big Ten Basketball: Minnesota, Northwestern and Nebraska rise in latest power rankings

Illinois v Purdue
Illinois v Purdue / Justin Casterline/GettyImages
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7. Michigan State (9-6, 1-3)

As this season began, Michigan State sat near the very top of the national rankings, considered by most a Top 10 team at the very least. An opening night loss to James Madison quashed that dream and further defeats have pushed the Spartans out of the national spotlight. Still, there’s a plethora of talent in East Lansing and it’s improper to completely dismiss these Spartans.

After that dreadful showing on opening night, the Spartans picked up losses against Duke and Arizona on the national stage before dropping their first two conference games in early December, sitting just 4-5 at the time. They really bounced back with a blowout win over Baylor, igniting a 5-game winning streak, which was burst this past Sunday by Northwestern in a major way. However, the Spartans had been playing much better basketball in recent weeks.

Tyson Walker has been fantastic, though inconsistent play in general has doomed this team, even from starts like Malik Hall and A. J. Hoggard. These Spartans returned a lot of talent from last season which is exactly why they had such heavy expectations in the preseason. Michigan State has become one of the season’s disappointments, but don’t underestimate that talent. It won’t be perfect going forward, but they can still cause damage in the Big Ten and have a shot at the Dance even after their start.