Are we elite yet?

Springtime is for looking forward, and there’s a football game this weekend, so it’s natural that we’re all keyed on Keith and Kirk instead of Kalin and, um, Kebler. But I’d like to point out -- for the first time here at The Only Colors -- that State’s basketball team appeared the national championship game earlier this month. Surely we can revel in that for at least 30 days?

(This seemed more relevant before KJ's hoops post this morning, but I'm sticking with it. This team blogging stuff is tricky.)

I’m over the euphoria of the big wins over UConn, Louisville and Kansas, not to mention the un-euphoria of the dismantling by UNC. Now it’s time to reflect on what all this means for the program in a deep, existential way. 

Specifically, does this title game appearance mean MSU has arrived?

In the ‘No’ category, after MSU’s big tournament wins, way too many of the game recaps and columns somehow included the name of Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart. As though the big takeaway from Michigan State’s run was that Tom Izzo might finally have the resume to apply for a big-time gig.

But there’s plenty of fodder for the ‘Yes’ column, too. For one thing, some national writers are coming around. For another, well, I have to tell this story: A friend from Chapel Hill was staying with me in Chicago during the Final Four, and before the UConn game he said he wanted MSU to win. Not because he figured on another easy W (though he probably did), but because he thought Michigan State had more “elite program” cachet than Connecticut and would look better on the Tar Heels’ resume. Now that’s a pretty small sampling, but a good sign.

(Semi-related note: MSU will get another crack at Carolina in next season's Big Ten-ACC Challenge on Dec. 1. This game is in Chapel Hill, rather than Detroit, and maybe that's a good thing.)

So here are my two discussion questions: 1) Has MSU reached ‘consensus Top 10 program’ status both among casual fans outside of Big Ten country and among experts?  and 2) What should we do about it? Our options include the inferiority complex posture that comes from the never-ending ‘Will Izzo take this job or that job’ rumors; adopting the smug superiority of Duke fans; and something else in between.

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