Saturday, March 03, 2007

If a loss could lock up a NCAA bid...

...the Spartans' heartbreaking loss in Madison this afternoon was it.

Wisconsin's Kammron Taylor hit a rainbow trey with just under 4 seconds left to but the Badgers up 2, and Drew Neitzel was just short on a running the length of the court, desperation 3 point try for the win.

A weakened Wisconsin (Leading rebounder Brian Butch is out a month with that ugly elbow injury) and Michigan State (Half the team seems to be recovering from the flu) had another massively entertaining battle, with the teams swapping leads down the stretch. More than anything, this game was a microcosm of the Big 10 season, in that it's almost impossible to win on the road.

Despite the loss, I doubt it hurt Sparty's NCAA hopes much, if at all. Losing by 2 points to an odds on NCAA number 2 seed won't do much damage to MSU's RPI. They better win at least 1 game in the Big 10 tournament, if only to give themselves a bit of a cushion.

Even though the Spartans are now on a 2 game losing streak, I still think they have the looks of a team that could make a Sweet Sixteen run. It really comes down to seeding. Best case scenario is a 6 or 7 seed. To be honest, I could just as easily see them as an 8 or 9, which is more likely. A nice Big 10 tournament run would help their seeding enormously.

Despite this supposedly being a rebuilding year, the 06-07 Spartans have been one of the more entertaining teams in the country, winning with great team defense and Drew Neitzel. It's always fun to watch a team, if not overachieve, max out their potential.

For this group of young Spartans to finish the regular season 21-10 overall, 8-8 in the conference, with a near lock on a NCAA tournament berth, we may just have witnessed one of Tom Izzo's best coaching jobs. Period.

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