NCAAB: Spartans face No. 2 Purdue Saturday with NCAA Tournament hopes still in limbo

Michigan State Spartans News


  • Michigan State has made the NCAA Tournament 25 straight years, the second longest active streak in the country behind Kansas.
  • The Spartans have lost two in a row entering Saturday’s game at No. 2 Purdue. The Boilermakers have beaten the Spartans in seven of the last eight meetings.
  • The Big 10 Tournament starts Wednesday, March 13 at the Target Center in Minneapolis.

Is it really possible? Are we really having this conversation?

After two bad conference losses (at home no less), Michigan State finds itself 17-11 overall and sixth in the Big 10 entering a Saturday showdown at No. 2 Purdue. The Big 10 projects as a six-team league for the NCAA Tournament, and at the moment Michigan State is Team No. 6.

State has a decent resume with quality victories over Illinois and Baylor. A win over Purdue would basically clinch a bid, but that’s a tough task.

Michigan sportsbooks are gearing up for March Madness with markets on every big game. FanDuel and BetRivers each have Purdue at +750 to win the national title in Phoenix. They’ll certainly be favored against Michigan State at home.

Michigan State’s Road to the Big Dance 

ESPN bracketology has six Big 10 teams in the Big Dance. Michigan State was as high as a seven seed two weeks ago, but now they’re on a nine line. They aren’t a team on the bubble. Yet.

State is in sixth place in the Big Ten with a 9-8 conference record. After facing Purdue, they take on Northwestern, which is 20-8 and in third place in the Big Ten. Michigan State lost to Northwestern 88-74 in their last meeting. State ends the regular season at Indiana, which is right behind the Spartans in the Big 10.

State won’t be favored against Northwestern or Purdue, which puts them at 17-13 overall. They may need a win over Indiana to get in. If they are on a five-game losing streak entering the conference tournament, that’s bad, because the seeding committee usually rewards teams that are hot.

Michigan State Has to Get in, Right? 

State is one of the biggest disappointments of the college basketball season. Remember, they opened the season ranked No. 4 in the nation, started 5-5 and have basically been treading water. They’re a good defensive team, that ranks second in the Big Ten in points allowed, but offensively, they have never found a solid identity.

Michigan State has faced a brutal non-conference schedule, but how much do close losses to Duke and Arizona mean at this point? The best thing Michigan State may have going for them is that they’re Michigan State.

20 wins and the Spartans will definitely get in, that may mean winning a round or two in Minnesota. They don’t call it March Madness for nothing. Things could get crazy.

The Purdue Challenge 

Purdue can lock up a share of the Big 10 regular season title with a win Saturday at home. Purdue is 14-0 at home and features Player of the Year front-runner Zach Edey. The 7-foot-4 center from Toronto averages 23.7 points and almost 12 rebounds a game. He will likely finish his career as Purdue’s all-time leading scorer. 

Fox has the broadcast Saturday night with an 8 p.m. tip-off. State is 15-12-1 against the spread and 12-16 over/under. 

In the past, this has been the type of game that brought out the best in Michigan State. They’ll need to be great Saturday to have a shot.  

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.