For those familiar with Monty Python and the Holy Grail (read: had nerdy parents/family members), you know the famous scene where the Black Knight refuses to admit defeat despite losing all of his limbs.
Well I can now admit that I am the version of the delusional combatant pictured in the film.
All season I’ve been churning out reassuring articles and podcasts encouraging Spartans everywhere to stick with this team because eventually they’re going to figure it out and this will be a good team. I’ve preached that it’s all about March and this team will be much better come tournament time.
It’s almost March and…um…it’s getting kind of scary.
Following the loss on Saturday to the pedestrian Illinois Fighting Illini, I had to pause and wonder if all this fanboyism has run its course. Is all of my waiting and hoping and anticipating about to go for naught?
Unless something miraculous happens in the next few weeks, I believe it is.
I’m about to make some claims that will sound like I’ve given up on this MSU basketball season. Taken out of context, it will appear that any Spartan success will be in direct contrast to my next few paragraphs. But I want to leave the caveat that if this team can start making shots (starting with free throws) it will make a run in March.
Michigan State has the definition of a “meh” record this year. 15-8 overall and 6-4 in conference with no wins over a top 25 team. Normally this wouldn’t equal an NCAA bid for teams not led by a man named “Izzo” “Krzyzewski” or “Boeheim.” They’ve won most of the games they were supposed to win, lost a couple of inexcusable games and accomplished zero truly impressive victories.
The 2013-14 SMU Mustangs faced a similar situation last season. They boasted a 23-8 regular season record with one really impressive victory against eventual National Champions UConn. However, one of the biggest knocks to the Mustangs was the way in which they finished the season. SMU lost its final two regular season games and was bounced in the first round of the AAC tourney by 16-15 Houston.
Now this could change in the next few weeks. Maybe Sparty can waltz into the Kohl Center, shoot 78 percent from the field and upset the mighty Wisconsin Badgers. Maybe MSU can run the table to finish the regular season. Maybe they can make a charge in the Big Ten tournament, ideally winning the whole shebang so an at large isn’t even a worry.
Maybe is scary this time of year. No team wants to be facing a “maybe” in mid-February. But that’s exactly where Michigan State has put itself. If things don’t change starting now, Izzo’s legendary NCAA tourney run will most likely stall at 17.
Andrew Hayes is the host of Impact Izzone and a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports