Since losing against two of the nation's top teams in a grueling start to the 2011 season, the Spartans have dialed down the competition and pulled out five straight wins against a rag-tag group of no-name hoops squads.
After the opening two games against UNC and Duke, it would be hard to argue that MSU didn't deserve a bit of a breather, and they have done nothing but capitalize.
Before facing Florida State in the Big Ten-ACC challenge, the green and white's opponents were highly overmatched on both ends of the floor. They won those four games by an average margin of 25.5 points, easing the concerns of many Spartan faithful.
Without missing a beat, Izzo's group took the floor against the third best team in the ACC in FSU and kept it rolling with a 65-49 win in which the Spartans appeared to be firing on all cylinders. Point guard Kieth Appling scored a career-high 24 points to add to Brandon Wood's surprising 16-point 10-rebound double-double in the Spartan backcourt.
One alarming stat for Appling, though, was the zero in the assist column.
It is becoming more and more apparent that the sophomore is more comfortable off the ball as a scorer than managing the offense as the floor general. The consistent presence of freshman Travis Trice alongside Appling indicates that Izzo is seeing the same thing and is still trying to find the right mix of players.
The next opportunity for experimentation will be Sunday afternoon when the Spartans host the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks. In what should prove to be another laugher, the Spartan coach will no doubt continue to rotate his guards to try and identify the best fit for everyone moving forward.
The Mavericks are 3-5 as an independent with losses to the likes of IPFW, UMKC and Washburn (don't worry, nobody else knows who those schools are either).
Sunday's game against the Spartans will be their toughest matchup of the season, and they will likely will leave the Breslin Center satisfied for having gotten the opportunity to play against a big-time program.
Following this one, the Spartans host another inferior opponent in Central Connecticut before hitting the road to face an always tough Gonzaga squad. Likely to be boasting a 7-2 record at that point, it will be the next big test for MSU in an interesting up-and-down season.
Make no mistake, MSU will take as many easy W's as they can get before beginning the Big Ten season at the end of December.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!