EAST LANSING –Michigan State's victory over Indiana didn't put them back on the NCAA tournament bubble, but it provided hope for a successful finish.
It won't be easy.
The Spartans face Illinois tonight, Ohio State on Thursday, and Maryland on Sunday.
Then Indiana and Michigan will be waiting next week, where MSU plays back-to-back games against its rival.
"I think the beauty of it is, we've played hellacious schedules over 20-years," coach Tom Izzo said. "Guys came here knowing you are going to play good teams."
Against the Hoosiers, Michigan State may have found a rotation including Aaron Henry, Joshua Langford, Rocket Watts, and Gabe Brown.
Those are arguably MSU's best guys; Henry played 40 minutes, Langford logged 36, Watts had 32, and Brown finished with 29.
It's the most those four athletes have played together, and it was in a critical spot. That's no coincidence.
The Spartans won't have Foster Loyer again; he is sidelined with a shoulder injury, meaning Langford and Watts will continue to run the point.
We'll see if it makes a difference vs. Illinois.
It's Game Day
Media Timeout: Illinois 5 MSU 2
16:00 left in the first half.
Rough start for the Spartans offensively, but so far, they've kept Illinois in check on the other end. MSU with two early turnovers.
Media Timeout: MSU 10 Illinois 5
11:58 left in the first half.
Michigan State seems to have settled in; going on a 10-0 run and making it difficult for Illinois. The Fighting Illini have five turnovers and haven't gotten many easy looks (2-for-8). Aaron Henry playing incredible defense on Ayo Dosunmu.
Media Timeout: MSU 24 Illinois 16
8:03 left in the first half.
The Spartans are playing fast and making the extra pass on offense. It's given them an eight point lead over Illinois in the first half. Also playing the best defense I've witnessed all year, the Spartans are locked in.
Media Timeout: MSU 30 Illinois 21
3:36 left in the first half.
The game is far from over, but MSU doing their best to extend a nine point lead with less than four minutes before halftime.
Media Timeout: MSU 42 Illinois 31
16:30 left in the second half.
Michigan State leads Illinois by 11 early in the second half. Langford is having one his best games as a Spartan, grabbing a career-high 12 rebounds and scoring 11 points.
Media Timeout: MSU 47 Illinois 31
14:45 left in the second half.
The Spartans continue to play lockdown defense while protecting the basketball, only turning the ball over five times nearly six minutes into the second half.
Media Timeout: MSU 62 Illinois 49
7:51 left in the second half.
The Spartans are fighting to keep their lead, but Illinois is slowly creeping back into this one.
Media Timeout: MSU 66 Illinois 56
4:08 left in the second half.
Michigan State's lead has been cut to ten points with just over four minutes remaining. The Spartan big men are currently in foul trouble, they will be without Kithier and Marble the rest of the way.
Final: MSU 81 Illinois 72