EAST LANSING — Well, isn’t this a great way to end an already bizarre Big Ten regular season?
After Thursday’s 58-43 victory over the No. 22 Wisconsin Badgers, Michigan State has kept their Big Ten title hopes alive. However, they need two more things to happen before Tom Izzo and company can raise their fourth Big Ten title in five years.
First, the Spartans must control what they can control and defeat the Northwestern Wildcats on Sunday. Second, they need their in-state rival the Michigan Wolverines to beat Indiana.
“There are mixed emotions,” Tom Izzo said. “If one of my guys pulled for their rival Judd Heathcote would come out of his, well, he’s not in it yet, so he would kind of just roll of his bed and abuse me.”
If the Spartans are able to grab the victory on Senior Night and Michigan defeats the Hoosiers, there will be a four-way share of the Big Ten regular-season title between Indiana, Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State.
“I think I said at the beginning of the year that four losses could win it,” Izzo said. “We’re barking on that tree.”
Izzo’s prediction could be spot on if Indiana beats Michigan, but if the Wolverines pull off the upset, each team will have five Big Ten losses.
Regardless of what has to happen, if Izzo’s loyalty to the Michigan State colors haven’t been evident by now, with a Big Ten championship riding on the success of his rival, he’s made it known that the only cheering he will be doing is for the Spartans.
“What I’m going to do on Sunday, I’m going to pull for Michigan State, I’m going to pull for Derrick Nix,” Izzo said. “Then I’m going to go into the Big Ten Tournament and see what we can do there, and then after that I’m going to pull for every Big Ten team there is. That’s my game plan for next week.”
Even point guard Travis Trice, who is a native of Ohio, is only concerned with what his team does on Sunday, and he feels no need to root for the team in Ann Arbor anytime soon.
“The only team we are really pulling for is Michigan State,” Trice said. “We don’t really pull for anybody else until the NCAA Tournament then we will pull for a Big Ten team. But right now Michigan State is the only team.”