It hasn’t been a pretty season in East Lansing, but the Spartans are still sitting in decent shape to reach the Big Dance. They entered the year with heightened expectations, including a Top 5 standings in the preseason polls. Things have not gone their way, as Michigan State tumbled quickly out of the rankings, but now sit in good shape in a strong Big Ten.
That opening night loss to James Madison was a Quad 2 defeat and was the Spartans only real crutch on their resume. They certainly didn’t win as many games as expected, with some rough performances against Northwestern and Wisconsin among others, but their NET is still 24 and there’s a lot of potential here. Unfortunately, they lost at Minnesota this past Tuesday for a second Quad 2 defeat that may have stymied some recent momentum.
Saturday presents a much needed opportunity, as the Spartans will welcome Illinois to town. Not only will Michigan State be eager to avenge a January loss to the Fighting Illini, but this is another chance for their first Quad 1 win in conference play. Michigan State is just 2-7 in those Quad 1 games, with a victory over Illinois really putting their resume in a desirable place with the Selection Committee.