Well, the good news is that it’s not Saturday anymore, and Iowa can no longer hurt the Spartans.
After giving up a double digit lead with less than a minute to play in regulation, only to lose in overtime to the Hawkeyes, Michigan State has to be happy that the Big Ten schedule makers blessed them with a trip to Lincoln immediately afterward. Nebraska is in the midst of one of their better seasons in some time, yet they are still near the bottom of the Big Ten standings over Ohio State and Minnesota.
Even though the Iowa disaster stung, stings, and will sting any time the Spartans think about it, I think the best option is to just not think about it - Iowa was white hot from three late in the going, MSU made plenty of mistakes on the defensive end of the floor, leaving Iowa shooters somewhat open, but Iowa made those shots. MSU made free throws, but Iowa did too much. Michigan State lost the game, but didn’t choke or collapse. They just lost. Like every Big Ten team since December 11.
On to Nebraska!
Coming off of the offensive explosion in Iowa City, where 5 Spartans had double figure points, including Tyson Walker’s 31, MSU moves on to face an opponent who they outscored by 18 at home in January. Walker scored 21 to lead the way for MSU, and Jaxon Kohler ended up with 10 points, in what was the first real look at what the freshman center can do. The painfully obvious question on Michigan State’s end, is how will this team respond to what happened on Saturday? The team said all the right things about how it hurt in the moment, but you have to move on to the next day, but how will that translate to the court?
For Nebraska, the Cornhuskers are riding a hot streak, winning 5 of their last 6, including a 10 point win at Rutgers. Against Minnesota on Saturday, 6 Cornhuskers scored double digit points Derrick Walker consistently leads the way, averaging 13.4 points and more than 7 rebounds, but guard Keisei Tominaga is helping fuel the Huskers’ current hot streak with a series of 20+ point performances throughout the month of February. In January, MSU held Tominaga to just 2.
Kenpom projects MSU to win by 3, and the oddsmakers agree, as MSU is a 3.5 point favorite. The Spartans are a better team, but they don’t play games in a vacuum - After what happened in Iowa City, MSU is facing a fork in the road, and the direction they choose on Tuesday night against Nebraska could tell us a lot about the way the next few weeks will go.