Wisconsin Badgers vs Michigan State Spartans Basketball Recap
Wisconsin 82, Michigan State 56
It’s hard to put into words the enormity of what’s happening to the Michigan State men’s basketball team. A preseason Final Four contender won’t just fail to win the Big Ten championship; it’s now very likely to miss the NCAA Tournament as a result of quitting on its season.
The Wisconsin Badgers, though perhaps inwardly shocked, did not allow the train wreck on the other bench to distract them.
Wisconsin used an efficient and blended performance from its offense to throttle Michigan State on Sunday afternoon at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin. While the Badgers maintained their second-place tie with Purdue in the Big Ten, the season’s most disappointing team suffered the kind of humiliation that accompanies an NIT season.
So much of life cannot be taken for granted, but if there is ever money in the bank in college basketball, Michigan State would be the program you’d look to based on the past 12 years in East Lansing. Coach Tom Izzo has piloted the Spartans to six Final Fours in that span of time, with two trips to college basketball’s holy grail coming in each of the past two seasons. In the post-John Wooden era of college basketball, Michigan State has set a standard for college basketball excellence that is eclipsed only by Mike Krzyzewski’s run at Duke from 1988-1994, during which Coach K made six Final fours and won two national championships. Michigan State has been uncommonly good at an elite level, earning Izzo a place on the Mount Rushmore of college hoops coaches. When Izzo stayed at MSU this past spring after considering an offer from the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, it appeared that Sparty was about to embark on a journey that would culminate in a third consecutive Final Four. The main players on the 2010 team were all back for another season. There was no reason to expect a precipitous drop-off in 2011.
Yet, that’s exactly what has happened, and it was never more apparent than in this non-competitive game against Wisconsin.
The Badgers carved up an MSU defense that, in a normal year for Izzo, wears down opponents at this stage of the Big Ten season. Wisconsin hit a ridiculous 59 percent of its shots and 64 percent of its threes. Coach Bo Ryan’s ballclub was even better when you focus only on UW’s starting five. The Badgers’ starters hit 10 of 13 3-pointers, a conversion rate better than 75 percent. Every Wisconsin starter hit at least one triple, and four of the five Badger starters combined to hit 21 of 22 foul shots. Michigan State’s defense was plainly nonexistent, and that’s why UW motored to a 43-25 halftime lead. Wisconsin led by at least 15 points for the final 24 minutes and 13 seconds of the game, a shocking indictment of Michigan State’s lack of will. It’s not a surprise to see Wisconsin flourish at the Kohl Center, where it is now 149-11 under Bo Ryan.
It is stunning, however, to see Michigan State up and quit on its season.
And you thought you had seen it all. This Big Ten campaign is showing things that have never happened before.