Prior to the 2010-2011 season, the Michigan State Spartans had made 14 straight appearances in the NCAA tourney. The Spartans were ranked the pre-season #2 and had as good of a shot as anybody to possibly win the national championship. However, things did not work out as planned. The Spartan’s match up vs. the Illini on College Gameday seemed to be a make or break type of situation and losing the game could have certainly knocked the Spartans out of postseason play. In the match up earlier in the year, the Illini easily took care of Michigan State and defeated the Spartans 71-62 behind Brandon Paul’s 20 point performance.
LEADING UP TO THE GAME- The main story before the game seemed to be the adversity that the Spartans had going against them. The Spartans had lost 2 high level guards (Lucious, Allen), Delvon Roe had apparently re-injured his knee, Draymond Green had the flu and hadn’t practiced all week and Durrell Summers was coming off the worst game of his entire collegiate career (0-1 and 0 points at OSU). It almost seemed destined for Michigan State to blow this crucial game.
Behind Kalin Lucas’s 25 points, the Spartans got the job done and pulled off a 61-57 victory. Kalin Lucas looked as fresh has he has been all season and put the team on his back. While Kalin didn’t get much other help offensively, Keith Appling scored 9 and Durrell Summers and Delvon Roe each tallied 8 points for the Spartans. Roe described the pain in his knee after the game by saying “on a scale of 1-10, the pain was a 12”.
Why Delvon Roe is a Warrior- Prior to the game, Delvon was told he would play a similar role to the one he played in the Ohio State game (8 minutes played). However, with Draymond Green being sick, Izzo decided Roe would have to start. “uh, change of plans, Delvon, You’re going to play a little more than we thought. You’re starting.” Roe had not practiced since scoring late vs. Penn State to give Draymond Green his triple-double. When Izzo asked Roe how his knee was feeling during halftime, Roe responded “I’m playing.” Delvon Roe is without a doubt the best defender on the Spartans team and has consistently been praised by Analysts such as Jay Bilas, Dick Vitale and Hubert Davis. The reason Delvon is such a warrior is because he plays through pain. Keep in mind Delvon is a consistent starter for the Spartan’s despite having 3 knee surgeries.
Draymond Green- Draymond Green played through last nights game despite having the stomach flu. “That’s why I didn’t want to try to do too much offensively,” Green said of the flu. “I made a few mistakes, trying to do what I normally could do.” While Green played sick, he made 2 key free throws with 2:31 left to put Michigan State up 53-51.
Durrell Summers- While Summers didn’t WOW anyone with his performance vs. Illinois, he played a solid game and added all 8 of his points in the First half. Summers came out gunning and nailed a smooth 3 pointer early in the game. Summers finished with 8 points and 4 rebounds. It is key that Summers gains his confidence back before postseason play (if the Spartans can get the job done).
Keith Appling- Appling’s play had a big role on why the Spartans played so well last night. Appling’s main job of the game was to cover 6-3 Demetri McCamey and Appling displayed great effort and defense against the All Big Ten guard. Appling also added 9 points and 5 rebounds, including some nice drives to the basket.
Final Stretch- Michigan State has 4 games remaining on its schedule and it looks as if the Spartans need to win 3-4 to safely secure a spot in the NCAA tourney. The Spartans have their next game February 22nd at Minnesota, followed by home games vs. Purdue/Iowa and finally end the season in Ann Arbor vs. the Wolverines.
Februrary 22nd @ Minnesota- Win
Februrary 27th vs. Purdue- Loss
March 2nd vs. Iowa- Win
March 5th @ Michigan- Toss up, I’m going to call it a Win (don’t get mad Michigan fans, I give you a 50 % chance to win).
Big Ten Tournament March 10-13- I predict the Spartans to win its opening game in the BTT and follow that victory by a second round loss. Michigan State never seems to give away its game plan in this tournament and hasn’t won it since 2000 (yeah, we won the national championship that year).
FINAL RECORD- 19-13!