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12/09/2007

MSU chasing No. 1 seed

Michigan State capped off its biggest week of the young college basketball season Saturday with a 68-61 win over No. 20 BYU. The Spartans are now 8-1, ranked in the top-10, and should be favorites in every game they play for the next two months. That doesn't mean they'll win them all, of course. Texas, perhaps the nation's hottest team, visits The Palace in two weeks, and January includes tricky home dates with Ohio State and Illinois.

But it's not unreasonable to expect MSU to go undefeated until it visits Indiana for an ESPN Gameday game Feb. 16. In fact, looking at the remaining schedule — and barring injuries — there's no reason MSU can't finish the regular season somewhere in the 27-4 neighborhood, which should be good enough for a No. 1 NCAA tournament seed at Ford Field.

The Spartans aren't one of the top four teams now. North Carolina, Texas, Kansas, Memphis and Duke are all playing a shade better. They may not even be at the end of the year. But a four-loss season (or something of that nature) will help shape the perception of a program as annually competitive as MSU. Tack on a Big Ten championship (it's either MSU or Indiana) and at least one win the Big Ten tournament, and the Spartans have a resume built for March.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Andrew Winkle said...

D. B. - Good to read the Spartans should be favored to win the Big 11 in hoops. I'm curious though, what teams besides Indiana should vie with MSU for the title? I'm thinking Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and Ohio State in recent years have been at the top of the conference. Will these schools be in the upper half again?

I know Michigan will be lucky to stay out of the cellar. You omitted mentioning UCLA and Duke when listing teams ahead of the Spartans but then you did list five of the eight in the current ranking.

7:11 PM 
Blogger Dave Birkett said...

Thanks Andrew. In all honesty, it looks like a two-horse race for the Big Ten title between MSU and Indiana. The Big Ten is a little down this year, but Illinois, Ohio State and Wisconsin are in the next tier. Minnesota and Purdue are about the only other schools with a shot at making the tournament, maybe Penn State if things break perfect.

As for UCLA, they beat MSU head-to-head and deserve to be ranked ahead of the Spartans for now, but they lost to Texas recently. Comparing schedules, I think MSU has a chance to climb the rankings here and maybe even reach No. 1 if Memphis, Kansas and a few other teams lose.

8:40 AM 

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