A four-game win streak has put Michigan State back on the right side of the NCAA Tournament bubble. It also has put the Spartans closer to where they expected to be early in the season: in the Big Ten race.
After Wisconsin lost to Maryland on Tuesday night, the Spartans now sit 2.5 games of the Badgers in the Big Ten standings. But coach Tom Izzo does not want his team focusing on that opportunity to make up ground and spend its time focused inward instead.
”I don’t want my guys thinking about any crack in any door,” Izzo said. “I want them thinking about are we going to get better each and every game right now because we are doing that on a fairly consistent basis."
The Spartans have positioned themselves to receive a bye in the Big Ten Tournament, which will go to the top four seeds in the conference. Wisconsin remains in line to take the top seed, which, in Izzo’s opinion, makes sense. The Spartans coach has maintained all along that the Badgers are the cream of the crop in the Big Ten.
But all their second conference loss means is that other teams still are mathematically in the chase.
”I think that crack only means that teams with four losses are really in the mathematical loop,” he said of MSU, Maryland and Purdue.
The Spartans have a game remaining with Purdue as well as at Wisconsin, which will give them opportunities. But for Izzo, those are just games to improve for March.
”My big goal is I don’t even talk or think about it,” he said. “All I think about is if we can keep getting better because this team has gotten better for a variety of reasons.
”If we continue to do that, the Big Ten Tournament, you have a chance when it’s one-and-done if you have a good game.”