Well Michigan State fans, it’s all over. The green and white fell to the Ohio State Buckeyes, the seniors said goodbye to the Breslin Center, and the 2012 Big Ten Champions banner will boast proudly in three teams’ arenas.
Spartan fans wanted none of these three events to occur, but on a last-second jump shot by William Buford the evening went sour in East Lansing. As most games for Michigan State goes, there were some moments that made Spartan fans giddy as a girl scout selling cookies and moments that turned them angrier than the Incredible Hulk. Now that the banner has been raised and the regular season has ended, it’s time to break down the final game of the Spartans great season.
The Good News
Did the loss absolutely destroy every Spartan's day? No, of course not, because there was some good coming out of Sunday’s defeat. If you need help thinking of a good moment, look no further than the first half of the game.
Unfortunately those 20 minutes were the only part of the game when the Spartans had a firm grip on the game. During that half it appeared that Brandon Wood had an ice water blood transfusion, and the defense down low was nothing short of suffocating. Keith Appling also showed promise after a rough patch in the last couple of weeks, putting up 11 points and three assists.
Having Brandon Wood and Keith Appling step up in today’s game should be comforting for Michigan State now that they are nearing tournament time. Think of it, has a team ever gone deep in the tourney with a bad backcourt? Not that I can remember. Not only was the backcourt above average, but Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne had some shining moments down low with their offense and defense.
What senior will you miss the most?
For the most part, those four played well today. Not great, but good enough to give Spartan Nation a good look into the future of March Madness.
The Bad News
Cue the Debby Downer sound bite, because it’s time to get real. Today was a rough one to watch for many MSU fans, but if there is any fan base used to seeing heartbreak games, it’s this one. So hey, it’s nothing we are not used to seeing, but it still sucked to watch a 15-point lead go right down the drain.
So there is the big choke that cost the Spartans the outright title, that needs no further explanation (partially because I don’t want to smash the keys off my keyboard typing about it). That is something that does not sit well walking into tournament time, because these kinds of games are the reason it is called March Madness.
The Izzone was reduced due to spring break, but another usual force that was kept quiet was senior Draymond Green. Yes, he did put up 19 points, but how many shots did he need to take to get there? Well, the answer is 18 field goal and eight free throw attempts, and he only converted on 33 percent of the shots from the field. At times it seemed like Green was playing *gulp* selfish at times. Don’t get me wrong, without Green the Spartans wouldn’t be anywhere close to where they are today, but his shot selection during the game and especially on the final possession was questionable. A ten foot fade- away jump shot with time left on the shot clock wasn’t the highest percentage of a shot, especially considering how ice cold he was. There is a difference between controlling the game and being way too selfish, and if Green doesn’t find that line the Spartans will be in big trouble on one of his off nights. All well, can’t point too many fingers at the guy who got you to this point, right?
On top of that, the worst part of the game came from the news room after the final buzzer: Branden Dawson tore the ACL in the left knee. This was a huge difference in Sunday’s game—it could decimate the Spartans chances at a title run, and it may even sideline him next season. In no way, shape, or form is this a good story for Michigan State.
Oh yeah, and MSU has to share the title between two other teams. I don’t know about you, but I think a trophy looks kind of weird broken into three different parts.
What does this game mean for the season?
For a split second I guarantee you every Michigan State fan thought “this season has been ruined” after Sunday’s game. Well, after the blood pressure dropped, and the tense feeling in the chest went away, Spartan fans should have realized that this has been one heck of a season.
Any time you start the season off outside of the rankings, you are just praying for the best. Coming from last season with the Spartans trying to achieve the “Worst Leadership Fathomable Award”, there was a giant question mark hanging over this season.
Well, needless to say, landing on top of the conference is as good as it gets. Is it a bummer for MSU fans that they have to share the title with two teams that they can hardly stand to acknowledge? Absolutely, but is it better than having no share of the title at all? You bet.
Looking at Tom Izzo’s history, Spartan Nation should be hopeful for whats to come in March. They may have lost their top tournament seed, but Izzo’s Spartans are still one of the teams to beat on the road to New Orleans.