Michigan State Basketball: What to Expect from the Big Ten Schedule

Ryan KraftContributor IIDecember 28, 2011

Michigan State opens its Big Ten season tonight, hosting the undefeated Indiana Hoosiers. The Hoosiers are the only undefeated team left in the conference and are ranked 13th in the nation. Indiana got on the map with a thrilling, buzzer-beater win over the Kentucky Wildcats, who were ranked No. 1 in the nation at the time.

The Big Ten currently has five teams (including Michigan State) in the Top 25 ranked teams, so this is the first of many crucial Big Ten games the Spartans will face. At this point it really is not clear who the best teams in the Big Ten are, but this is what you should expect from Michigan State for the upcoming Big Ten schedule.

Obviously nothing is for sure since college basketball is very unpredictable, but when March rolls around, Michigan State almost has the same chance of being the second-best team in the Big Ten as being the seventh-best team. It's not because they're a bad team, but it's because the Big Ten is actually very good, and every team has a capable chance of beating each other every night.

Between Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois and even Northwestern, it's pretty much safe to say the Big Ten is the most competitive conference in the nation.

It's well known and pretty clear that Ohio State, ranked No. 2 in the country, is the favorite of the Big Ten. The Buckeyes are the most talented team led by All-American Jared Sullinger and have the most experience. It's pretty obvious they should win the conference. They are the one elite team that has all the components to win it all.

To go with the talent and experience, the Buckeyes have great chemistry, good intangibles and a solid coach in Thad Matta. The one sure thing coming from the Big Ten is that Ohio State is the best team. After that, it's pretty much up in the air.

As mentioned in previous articles, Michigan State is a very talented team led by forward Draymond Green, who is one of only a few players in the country who leads his team in points, assists, rebounds, blocks and steals (15.5/3.5/9.8/1.2/1.5 per game), and starting point guard Keith Appling.

If all the pieces come together by the end of the season, the Spartans are capable of being an elite team and one of the best in the country. They have a tough schedule, and it won't be an easy road, but with coach Tom Izzo running the show, the sky is the limit for the Spartans.

In time we will find out what teams are for real in the Big Ten, but the Spartans need to take it game by game, and their time begins tonight against the Indiana Hoosiers.