Michigan State basketball has its own problems

Spartans haven't been themselves lately

Published: March 4 2014 | 3:08 pm - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 9:09 am in

Most Big Ten basketball programs wouldn't be terribly frustrated with records of 11-5 in the conference and 22-7 overall. Most Big Ten basketball programs aren't Michigan State.

Iowa's next opponent is an MSU team that was the pick of most to win the conference and the pick of many to win the national-championship. That very team has lost four home games in a season for the first time since 1996-97, including its last two games at Breslin Center, to Nebraska and Illinois.

Enter the Hawkeyes on Thursday night. For all the angst floathing across Hawkeyeland before the team snapped its 3-game losing streak with a home win over Purdue Sunday, it perhaps pales to the gnashing of teeth in East Lansing.

Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press has this good post summarizing many of things concerning the Spartans and their supporters.

If you watched Saturday's Illinois-MSU game, you were shocked at how ordinary and how dazed the Spartans seemed to be. An injured Keith Appling is not a good thing for the green-and-white. Appling, a senior guard, was terrific in Michigan State's 71-69 overtime win at Iowa on Jan. 28. That capped a nine-game stretch of Big Ten games in which he averaged 14.7 points. He has played in five of MSU's eight games since then, averaging just 4.2 points.

Frontcourt mainstays Adreian Payne and Brenden Dawson didn't play at Iowa because of injury, and both are back. But Dawson enters his second game after being out for nine with a broken hand. Payne has had three games of 20-plus points since his return seven games ago following foot problems. But he looked out of sorts Saturday against Illinois, scoring just four points.

That said, I can't imagine we'll see Michigan State at its worst Thursday night. It's Seniors Night, a powerful -- though not impenetrable -- asset. Payne and Appling will be feted for terrific careers, and the Izzone will be hopped up all over again.

But then it's on the players to play. Unlike at Minnesota and Indiana last week, Iowa will go in as an underdog with seemingly less to lose than the Spartans. History, however, suggests losing is just what will happen. I mean, here are the 18 most-recent results when the two have met at Breslin:

2012: MSU 95, Iowa 61

2011: MSU 85, Iowa 66

2010: MSU 70, Iowa 63

2009: MSU 62, Iowa 54

2008: MSU 66, Iowa 52

2007: MSU 81, Iowa 49

2006: MSU 85, Iowa 55

2004: MSU 89, Iowa 72

2003: MSU 82, Iowa 54

2002: MSU 93, Iowa 79

2001: MSU 94, Iowa 70

1999: MSU 80, Iowa 65

1998: MSU 75, Iowa 64

1997: MSU 69, Iowa 67

1996: MSU 62, Iowa 60

1995: MSU 69, Iowa 68

1994: MSU 87, Iowa 84

1993: Iowa 96, MSU 90 (OT)


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