And so atop the Big Ten standings, there sits Michigan State...
|Keith Appling: Has become a terrific player|
Yet, Michigan State is 5-1 and alone atop the Big Ten standings, albeit because the Spartans have played an extra conference game.
It was at home, rather than on the road, but the Spartans did beat Ohio State Saturday. They lost their Big Ten opener at Minnesota, and have kept winning since. Unlike Indiana (Zeller), Michigan (Burke) and OSU (DeShaun Thomas), MSU doesn't have a big star. Flash? Sizzle? Style? The Spartans have little in those areas. But it is nonetheless impressive the way the Spartans are winning. They are balanced in the floor, they crash the offensive boards and they play commando-style defense. In other words, Tom Izzo has gotten this team to fit into his classic mold relatively early.
Logic dicates this will be the week the Spartans take a step back. Road trips to Wisconsin Tuesday and Indiana Sunday seem ominous for MSU, but don't be surprised if the Spartans survive by winning a game, or thrive by winning two, this week. Style point have never been a strength for the Spartans under Izzo. It's about winning. The Spartans, despite their success in the past, are being overlooked, but they bring a lot to the table. They do have an inside post game. Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne have developed nicely. His first two seasons, Keith Appling was a wild card game-by-game for MSU. Not any more. The leadership aspect and consistency have emerged. Branden Dawson and Gary Harris are excellent players. As such, it wouldn't surprise me if the Spartans are ultimately the last team standing in this conference.