EAST LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – With football effectively over, the time is upon us for Big Ten play in college hoops.
The Spartans had an up and down week heading into the new year and, unsurprisingly, they took a slight drop in the latest AP rankings after losing to Iowa 83-70 last week in Iowa City.
The Spartans spent four weeks at the top, now they are at number five in the latest poll with past foe Kansas named the new number one.
MSU is not sweating it, knowing they are playing without Denzel Valentine, the Spartan’s played flat versus Iowa but rebounded to earn a good win against a Minnesota team that many believed played their best game of the year on Saturday.
Tom Izzo normally embraces the underdog narrative but today, said that he enjoys the responsibility that comes with being the top dog in the polls. “I’ve been the underdog for a lot of years, ya know to hell with being the underdog. No, I think to take the next step in the program our players gotta understand that that’s what that rating does to you know. As they say in the military with rank comes responsibility and the ranking was there and I don’t know if we’ll drop I’m sure a decent amount but I think you gotta learn how to be the best and I don’t think we handled that well but just when we got there, we also lost our best player.”
Meanwhile, the Spartan women also recorded their first Big Ten win of the season yesterday at home, that paired with a 5 pt loss to Ohio State moved them up a spot to 23rd in the poll.
The team defeated Wisconsin yesterday afternoon and coach Suzy Merchant says that the perpetual grind of the Big Ten season means there is no time to dwell on wins or losses. “You don’t wanna focus so much on outcomes. You wanna focus on the things you need to do well, technique wise, to kinda get the job done ’cause I think when you think about just winning a game or putting pressure on yourself for the outcome, kids kinda forget what’s important. In this league you gotta have a short term memory. You gotta go to the next one and refocus, I don’t think our energy was as good as it needed to be but I also think our kids did what they had to do. Some of those vets kinda knew down the stretch what had to be done to get the victory.”