On Tuesday night, MSU basketball took down number one Kentucky, 78-74, in Chicago’s United Center. It was a huge win that will most definitely propel the team to first place in the polls. That is, if they can beat Columbia on Friday night.
What you need to know about Columbia
The Columbia Lions are the Columbia you have heard of. Not because of athletics, though, but because they’re in the Ivy League. Yes, the Ivy League has had schools advance in the NCAA tournament a fair amount (Harvard won one game in 2013, Cornell advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2010), but Columbia is not one of those teams. Although they have made the Sweet 16 before, it was in 1968. That was also the last time Columbia made the NCAA tournament and the only time they have ever even won the Ivy League.
In recent years, Columbia has been as bad as they have ever been, and it’s not like they have a tough schedule for a mid-major team– KenPom ranked their strength of schedule last season at 192nd in the country, and that’s the best it’s been since KenPom started up in 2003. They have only played six ranked teams since the 2001-2002 season and are winless against them, averaging a 77-57 loss in each game.
So far this season, the Columbia Lions are 1-1. They beat Maryland-Eastern Shore on Saturday by a score of 73-54. Last season, Maryland-Eastern Shore went 2-26 and was the 345th best team out of 347 in KenPom. The Lions then lost a close game to the Manhattan Jaspers 71-70 on Tuesday to even their record to 1-1.
What the Spartans need to do to win
This is simple for the Spartans. They’ve shown fans that they are a legitimate top team after knocking off Kentucky earlier this week, and Columbia is nowhere near as talented as the Wildcats in any sense of the word. MSU just needs to play smart basketball. They can’t get into foul trouble, they have to take smart shots and most of all, they CANNOT look ahead to the next game. Pretty much every huge upset in college basketball is due to the better team overlooking the underdogs. I mean, you can’t forget that these players are real collegiate athletes with a lot of skill, and they wouldn’t play the game if they knew the results ahead of time.
Gametime: Friday, 9:00 p.m.
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: Spartan Sports Network