CBB: Struggling Michigan State faces Baylor in Saturday Showdown

darren cooper
By:
Darren Cooper
13/12/2023/
NCAAB

Highlights

  • Michigan State is 4-5 looking at its worst start through 10 games since the 2003-2004 season. Entering play Tuesday, they are the only team in the Big Ten with a losing record.
  • The Spartans have played one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country including games against Duke and current No. 1 Arizona.
  • Baylor is 9-0 and ranked No. 6 in the college basketball rankings. They won the national title in 2021.

Someone in Michigan, please start winning some basketball games.

Michigan basketball fans have seen the Pistons stuck in a record losing streak, University of Michigan coach Juwan Howard is in trouble again for something off the court, and even college basketball’s most consistent program, Michigan State, has wobbled out of the gate, sitting at 4-5 overall and 0-2 in the Big Ten.

Tom Izzo’s Spartans take on national power Baylor Saturday at Little Caesars Arena at 2 p.m. on FOX (maybe the Pistons will have won by then) and Michigan sports bettors can find markets on that game and college basketball all season at the best Michigan sportsbooks like BetRivers and BetMGM. They will also have future bets on the upcoming NCAA Tournament and the Big 10 champ.

State Streak In Jeopardy? 

Michigan State has made the last 25 NCAA Tournaments, the second longest streak in Division 1 basketball. The Spartans reached the Sweet 16 last year.

With the bulk of the team returning and a promising freshman class coming in, the Spartans entered the season No. 4 in the AP Top 25 rankings. But nothing has gone right for the Spartans.

An opening night loss to James Madison was an omen of things to come. State has struggled defensively at times (shocking for an Izzo-coached team) and rank 326th in the nation in shooting threes. Basketball at every level is a pace and space game, and the Spartans can’t expand the floor.

There’s a long way to go before State fans have to worry about making the NCAA’s – 20 years ago when they were 5-5, State finished third in the Big Ten and qualified.

Bears On Deck 

One could look at the Spartans record and say, well, they’ve played a brutal non-conference schedule and it’s true. State lost to Duke by six, and was within one of Arizona with two minutes left before falling.

Baylor is unbeaten and led by freshman guard Ja’Kobe Walker with 14.9 points a game. Six Bears are scoring in double figures. Baylor ranks No. 2 in the nation in three-point shooting at 43.2 percent, but struggle on the boards. Saturday will be their first game in 11 days.

Spartans Snapshot 

Michigan State is coming off a 77-70 Big Ten loss to Nebraska. It was the first time Nebraska had beaten Michigan State since 2016. The Huskers shot 50 percent from the floor for the game, 64 percent in the first half.

Senior Tyson Walker had 17 points in the loss and leads State with 20.3 a game, while seniors Malik Hall and AJ Hoggard continue to play well. The Spartans haven’t gotten much this season in the paint and none of the Spartans freshmen have contributed much. Yet.

A win over Baylor would certainly give the Spartans some life as they enter an easy three-game stretch against Oakland, Stony Brook and Indiana State, then it’s back into Big Ten play in 2024. Perhaps winning basketball is on its way to Michigan in the new year.

Born and raised in Louisiana, Darren Cooper has a fond appreciation for bayous, Mardi Gras beads and the sports betting industry. Darren has worked for multiple print and online publications since 1998, primarily as a sports columnist in the Northeast. He’s covered a Super Bowl (it was a blowout), the World Series (same) and the NBA Draft (man, those guys are tall). For the last few years he’s dug deep into the sports gambling industry as it exploded across America, learning how the legal sausage is made and how while all the sportsbooks look the same, they all have different identities and styles. He’s learned to always bet within his means -- and take the under. When not in front of his computer creating, Darren spends time with his three boys. He runs, reads and is always looking for the next big thing to write about.