In previous seasons, the Michigan State men’s basketball mantra has always been “just make it to March.” At that point, MSU fans knew to expect a little something extra under head coach Tom Izzo. This year, however, that feeling has been muted after an up-and-down regular season.
After a 3-7 finish to the regular season, Michigan State is forced to play in Thursday’s batch of Big Ten Tournament games against Maryland. Last season, the Spartans entered the tournament hot, but still feeling uneasy ahead of Selection Sunday after a tough season. An opening game loss made those feelings that much stronger and turned into a play-in appearance during the NCAA Tournament.
This year, a majority of fans feel like Michigan State is in the NCAA Tournament field even with a loss to Maryland in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament, but a surprising 22 percent of fans still think work is needed.
On top of that, even those who are confident in Michigan State right now don’t think those feelings will last through much of the conference tournament. A majority, 75 percent, of MSU fans think the Big Ten Tournament will end for the Spartans before the weekend.
With even Michigan State fans expecting a relatively early exit for the Spartans in the conference tournament, that leaves the championship to be taken. Fans around the Big Ten think it will come down to Illinois and Purdue in the championship game.
With those expectations in mind, it’s not a surprise that fans don’t see anything resembling a top seed in the Spartans’ future. A majority of fans expect Michigan State to have an eight-seed in the NCAA Tournament or worse.
Only just under one third of fans think Michigan State can earn at least a seven-seed.
If things are to go a little better than most fans expect, it will take big performances by the team’s top players. For MSU fans, it’s the same names that have been depended on all season long. Simply put, Michigan State needs its captains to step up.