Expectations are sky high this season for the Michigan State Spartans. Even with the team not playing at the same level some had thought was possible, the goal of winning a national championship has never changed.
However, after two losses in a three game stretch, both on the road, confidence in the Spartans had slipped to its lowest point in a month – even if that mark was still incredibly high.
Before MSU tipped Wednesday night against the Northwestern Wildcats, the weekly FanPulse results came in and for the second week in a row confidence had dipped. This week it fell from 94 percent to 91.
The mark was the lowest Spartans fans had given since mid December when the team was still fresh off of a pair of bad losses to Duke and Virginia Tech and had looked mediocre during stretches even in wins.
However, since that point, the team played some of the best basketball in the country. Just like last time, right as confidence dipped this week, MSU gave fans a reason to get excited once again.
Michigan State came out on fire against Northwestern, racing out to an early double-digit lead. Even after Northwestern went on a run of their own to make it a game again, the Spartans never lost control.
Unlike their previous meeting against the Wildcats, MSU was able to hold off any potential second-half run to make things close. Instead, they played top-to-bottom some of their best basketball, getting production from the top nine players in their rotation.
The Spartans will have a couple of tests before next week’s results can show if fans have fully regained confidence. MSU heads to Madison on Saturday to play a tough, if depleted, Wisconsin Badgers team. That is followed by a home game against the No. 24 Penn State Nittany Lions.
Despite both games being tough, they are both games that MSU needs to win considering their remaining schedule. After this weekend’s game, Michigan State still has five games against teams currently ranked with three of them on the road, and that’s in addition to hitting the road to play rival Michigan.
Fortunately, at least for fan confidence, the level of difficulty is well known. Last week’s national FanPulse vote said fans believe the Big Ten is the best conference in the country, by a wide margin.
On a side note, this week’s national question asked fans who the most disappointing team has been thus far. While both Ohio State and Michigan received votes, North Carolina was the run-away “winner” there.
To take part in each week’s FanPulse voting sign up here.