Don't count out Tom Izzo's No. 9-ranked Michigan State Spartans just yet.
Despite suffering back-to-back losses for the first time this season (Indiana, Ohio State), the Spartans (22-6, 11-4) are still in the hunt for a Big Ten regular-season crown.
However, they'll have to dispose of the No. 4-ranked Michigan Wolverines (23-4, 10-4) on Sunday at the Crisler Center in order to grab a piece of the pie for the fourth time since 2009.
Michigan State breezed by the Wolverines on Feb. 12, notching a decisive 75-52 victory in front of a riled up Izzone. The Wolverines, at the time, were the No. 4 team in the nation, but they certainly didn't play up to par at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.
Keith Appling was M.I.A against Indiana twice this season, and he was a no-show this past Sunday during the Spartans' 68-60 loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus.
Appling has to resurrect his former game-controlling skills for Michigan State to have a chance at downing the Wolverines in Ann Arbor. Furthermore, Appling has to have a sense of urgency if he hopes to claim at least a share of the Big Ten regular-season title.
Every game is a challenge in the Big Ten. Michigan State has to play in a similar fashion that it played during its past duel with Michigan to escape Crisler with a victory and keep its conference championship hopes alive and well.