Spartans ready for challenging Big Ten schedule

Much of the hype surrounding the Big Ten through the first couple months of the season has centered around Michigan and Indiana.

Indiana opened the season as the No. 1 team in the nation and spent several weeks there, while Michigan is currently No. 2 and undefeated and off to its best start in more than 20 years.

That’s left Michigan State as an underdog as it enters what figures to be a challenging Big Ten season with a road game against 11th-ranked Minnesota (12-1) at 2 p.m. today.

And that’s just fine with the No. 19-ranked Spartans (11-2).

“I feel like the underdog is better because it gives you some pressure to want to win,” MSU center and senior captain Derrick Nix said.

Keith Appling said the team is more focused on improving than how it’s viewed by outsiders.

“We don’t try to much to worry about those things. We just want to get better as a team and then see where we end up when it’s all said and done,” said Appling, who leads MSU with an average of 14.9 points and 4.1 assists.

“That’s usually on top so we just gotta continue to get better.”
MSU (11-2) is one of six Big Ten teams ranked in the top 25 as conference play gets started. Michigan, the lone remaining unbeaten team in the league, leads the way at No. 2, while Indiana (11-1) is No. 5 and Ohio State (9-2) is 10th. Minnesota and Illinois are both 12-1 and ranked 11th and 12th, respectively, while the Spartans are the final of the ranked teams.

Then there’s teams like Iowa, which is 11-2 and off to its best start in eight years. No team in the conference has a losing record. That’s helped the Big Ten have the top RPI as conference season gets going today.

“It’s gonna be that kind of way where there is gonna be three and four-game killer killers and then all the sudden you throw in a team that’s not as good and if you let your guard down you’re losing that game,” MSU coach Tom Izzo said. “That’s the way I’m approaching it, one game at a time. You can’t get too excited about a win or too down about a loss because I think there’s gonna be some in this league.”

The challenge of the talented Big Ten has MSU players looking forward to defending their conference title.

“Each night is going to bring a different adventure. It’s pretty much no days off and we’ve gotta work hard each and every game,” Appling said. “I’m pretty sure myself and everybody else on the team is looking forward to it. It should be a very exciting season.”

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22 Responses to Spartans ready for challenging Big Ten schedule

  1. avatar MSU Owns Denard says:

    Jim Delooney is at it again, we start with a game at minny, paris hilton gets nw and iowa back to back, geez just like football scheduling

    • avatar Dave in Evanston says:

      Wouldn’t you rather play in the barn during winter break while the students are away?

      I like what Izzo and the players are saying; take care of your own business and everything will work itself out.

  2. avatar AtlSpartan says:

    I think the perimeter players, Appling, Trice, Harris, et al will continue to improve and end up playing well. This team will go as far as Nix and Payne can take them. We may see Costello step up and make a difference, but this is the year that Nix and Payne need to wear some teams out down low.

    Payne has looked aggressive and ready to dominate in several games. Nix has had the one monster game, but has been inconsistent. It seems Nix needs to focus on finishing stronger. Too frequently he makes a spectacular move only to lay the ball on the rim and have it roll off. I personally would like to see him make the move and finish it with a flush. It doesn’t have to be a Daryl Dawkins back board breaking chocolate thunder, just a solid flush to make sure it finishes with points.

  3. avatar GO BLUE says:

    waaaaaaaaaaah waaaaaaaaaah

  4. avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

    20% FF shooting and minus 14 on the boards cost us the game.

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  7. avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

    As I said, rebounding is about hustle and desire, we had very little of that today. It wasn’t that we were pretty little jump shooters (aka 2011), it was that everyone expected someone else to get the board instead of crashing them. Granted there could have been some hesitancy because of Minnie running, but our 2 bigs are secondary rebounders, DayDay was is a primary rebounder. We need somebody to step up to do that grunt work.

    • avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

      From another brother:

      Somebody needs to be a primary rebounder like DayDay was and go get the basketball. Nix doesn’t have the mobility, Payne does, Dawson does, end of call out.

  8. avatar Ghost of Biggie says:

    When we went up by 5 Minnie was passive on offense standing around and looking tired in general. Wonder if that wasn’t a sandbag call by Tubbie. Allowing them to gather energy for a final push. At that point they cranked up the defensive energy and never looked back. Our guys looked surprised and tired the rest of the way. We didn’t match their intensity.

  9. avatar SpartanMan says:

    Hey, if coach Izzo walked away with positives from a loss it is usually a good sign of things to come. Week off, followed by a road game at a very good Minnesota team which we dominated for most of the game…I’ll take it. I can’t guarantee anything, but I would be willing to guess that MSU stays in the hunt for B1G title in a league where everyone will get beat a few times by the top 5 or 6, including each other. With the talent on this team, I really doubt this is the year we miss the NCAA tourney. Spartans will continue to improve from here…

    • avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

      Nicely stated!

      As I grow older, I forget.

      Incidentally there was huge improvement from the Tx game in the way the TEAM played. Gotta luv the way KA took it at the D. TT shot it well in the 1st half. More than 1 pick-6. intensity was a sawtooth and it needs to be a flat-line at a high level, but there were more up teeth than down. Good call Spartanman!

      • avatar MSU Owns Denard says:

        MSU missed the front end of a couple one and ones, that really hurts, takes 2 possible points off the board each time, gotta make those free throws !

        • avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

          As I said earlier, when you shot FT at a 20% clip and get out rebounded by 14, you will NOT win in the B1G.

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