February 20, 2012

MSU has toughest schedule among B10 contenders says Izzo

With a pair of 14-point victories over Wisconsin and Purdue Michigan State (22-5, 11-3) extended its league-best winning streak to five games and positioned itself as the frontrunner for a Big Ten championship and potential No. 1 seed in NCAA tournament based on the latest projections of ESPN bracketologist Joe Lundardi.

But the Spartans are still four games away from the finish line in the Big Ten race and Spartan head coach Tom Izzo understands better than most the amount of work that needs to get done before his team can think about raising another banner into the rafters at the Breslin Center.

"We could be first or we could be fourth just like that," said Izzo of the Big Ten race. "That probably makes the difference between being a one seed and probably being a three or four seed."

The Spartans will win the Big Ten outright if they can get through their final four games unbeaten. But that is a big if given Michigan State's schedule down the stretch. The Spartans kick off the first of their final four games in the Big Ten play on Wednesday night at Minnesota. They then return home for a Saturday game with Nebraska.

Michigan State must also play Indiana (Feb 28) on the road at Assembly Hall and face what will sure to be an Ohio State ballclub hungry to avenge their home loss to Michigan State when the two teams meet at the Breslin Center on March 4.

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