MSU on the brink of best start to season

The Spartans' 16-1 start is just the third such record in school history. A win Saturday at Illinois would give this Michigan State team a milestone early -- but it isn't the end goal by any means.

It hasn't been a pretty start for the Michigan State basketball team, but it has been a successful one.

The Spartans' 54-40 win against Northwestern on Wednesday moved the team to 16-1 – tied for the best record to open a season in school history.

The last time the Spartans hit the 16-1 mark? 2000-01, a season that ended in the Final Four.

But the Final Four and a national title remain among the goals for MSU, the potential hot 17-1 start wasn't outlined before the season.

"That's not really something that we wanted to accomplish," senior Keith Appling said. "That really wasn't one of our team goals. It's just another great milestone that we can accomplish along the way."

As the goals remain bigger than a good start through mid-January, junior forward Branden Dawson said it certainly would mean something to tie a mark that has only been met twice in school history (1930-31 was the other)

"We know that it's not over yet because the Big Ten, you never know what you will go through," Dawson said. "Coach (Tom Izzo) talks about it and says Illinois right now is on a three-game losing streak and that's how we were last year when we lost three games.

"We like the schedule. We like the history and everything, but it's not over and we can't be satisfied."

Part of the lack of satisfaction remains in the fact the Spartans have yet to be healthy and hit their stride.

So in the lack week as Izzo has brought up the potential of doing something for just the third time in school history, the goal remains playing better now and letting the rest fall into place.

That will begin Saturday in Champaign against Illinois.

"It is exciting," sophomore Matt Costello said. "We just gotta start playing better basketball. We've won, but know we can play better as a team."

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