On Monday, MSU head coach Tom Izzo said this was going to be one of the toughest weeks of competition in Spartan history.
The Spartans will have to bounce back from a game that saw them go through two nine-minute scoring droughts and finish the games with as many turnovers as field goals (17).
The Orangemen (18-4) will present a handful of problems for the Spartans, most notably one talented freshman forward.
Carmelo Anthony is considered the top freshman in all of college basketball, but he also may be the best player period.
The 6-foot-8 freshman leads the Orangemen in scoring with 21.7 points per game and is pulling down 9.7 rebounds per game. He has created matchup problems for just about every team hes faced, because of his ability to stick the three-point shot.
"Melo," as his Web site calls him, has already had 14 double-doubles on the season and is looking forward to a bright NBA future.
The Spartans, however, can not put all of their focus on the freshman phenom, because he has a very comparable supporting cast.
Six-foot-eight forward Hakim Warrick is a solid low-post scorer and rebounder. Warrick is second on the team in scoring, 15.6 ppg, and rebounding, 8.8 rpg.
Freshman guard Gerry McNamara is having a very nice year as well. McNamara is averaging 14.3 ppg, while dishing out 5 assists per game. The 6-foot-2 point guard is also potent from behind the arc, hitting 55 3s to lead the Orangemen.
Senior forward Kueth Duany provides leadership and a dangerous outside touch as well. Duany averages 12.2 ppg and is a very good defender.
Syracuse is led by head coach Jim Boeheim, who has amassed 641 wins half way through his 27th year at the helm.
The Orangemen like to use a 2-3 zone on the defensive end and that could create big problems for MSU, who struggled against the Illinis zone.
The Spartans lack a point guard who can penetrate the zone and then kick it out to an open shooter. Which brings the Spartans to their second problem: not having a solid outside shooter.
Sophomore guard Chris Hill is the teams best shooter, but his number of shots per game has reduced when he took over the point guard duties. Izzo said that he would like to maybe put junior forward Adam Wolfe in to try to give them an outside threat. Wolfe has seen limited time coming off his hamstring injury from last season.
MSU will also be challenged under the boards. The Orangemen rack up about 41.3 rebounds per game as a team, while the Spartans lead the Big Ten with 35 boards per game.
The Spartans will have the sophomore forward Alan Anderson back. Anderson, who is coming off a dislocated right pinkie, played 19 minutes against the Illini and scored four points.
MSU will need their best effort to get past the Orangemen if they want to salvage this critical week of play.
Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. at the Breslin Center.