And the job won't get any easier for the Spartans.
With home games against No. 2 Duke, No. 14 Oklahoma, No. 10 Kentucky, and a road test at UCLA, Izzo's squad certainly has its work cut out for them. Fortunately, in college basketball, non-conference losses aren't that damaging, and each of those contests can be looked at as a learning opportunity.
State still possesses the most talented team in the Big Ten, and as long as they take care of business in their conference, the nation's toughest schedule can only pay dividends -- especially in March.
Some of the nation's top teams, such as Kansas, Duke and Kentucky, will be able to give the Spartans looks that they may not witness until tournament time. Those well-coached squads also have the tendency to expose weaknesses in a team, as Kansas did earlier in the week.
Because the Spartans are so youthful, with sophomore's Maurice Ager and Paul Davis seemingly leading the way, getting different looks and playing against the most talented crop of player's in the nation will only prepare for them for future -- and more consequential contests.