Once left for dead, the Spartans responded with a flourish, winning four straight basketball games down the stretch and can claim its fifth Big Ten title in seven seasons under Coach Tom Izzo with a win tonight.
It won't be easy.
Wisconsin has won the last three meetings with the Spartans including a 77-64 win in Madison earlier this season. The Spartans will have to do a better job defensively against the Big Ten's third leading scorer, Devin Harris.
Harris leads the Badgers into the Breslin Center averaging 19.1 points per game and 4.6 assists.
The Spartans are coming off a great performance on the road against Penn State. MSU dominated the Nittany Lions en route to an easy 25 point win despite not attempting a single free throw for the contest.
"I think the confidence has been the No. 1 ticket that has changed for us," said coach Izzo. "It's been a long year, but you like to be playing your best basketball at the end of the year."
The 67-42 decision in favor of State sets up tonight's matchup.
"We just put ourselves in a position where we have an opportunity of a lifetime to be home and playing for at least a share of the Big Ten championship, and yet we are playing a team that might be playing their best basketball after watching the Purdue game," Izzo said on Monday. "Looking how Wisconsin played and how many people played well, we think it's going to be a heck of a game."
Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said the MSU's early season struggles are not indicative of what kind of team they really are. "They had a lot of neutral games early in the year in non-conference, compared to a lot of teams. ... Now, they are shooting it so much better and playing with that type of confidence," Ryan said. "When the ball is going down, it's contagious."
An added incentive for the Spartans is that tonight is senior night. Mott Community College transfer Rashii Johnson and forward Jason Andreas will be honored at halftime. The Spartans want to send the two out with a win and a championship.
"I'm sure there will be an electric atmosphere," Izzo said. "I'm hoping this is where our (difficult) non-conference schedule helps us."