East Lansing, MI – Friday night, everything started well for Tom Izzo and Michigan State.
The Spartans led by 17 points with less than 19 minutes left in regulation and seemed to be on their way to a third victory in a row.
But Purdue stuck around, shrinking MSU's lead, going on a 39-21 run to edge out Michigan State 55-54 in the final seconds.
"One of the more disappointing losses," Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo told reporters in a videoconference.
Now, the Spartans are just 2-4 in the conference, most likely out of the top-25, and in jeopardy of missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 22 years; the third-longest streak in Division I men's basketball.
"I'm not worried about the mental makeup (of my team)," Izzo said. "I'm worried about the schedule."
Michigan State is 0-3 in Quadrant-1 contests and are No. 84 in the latest NET rankings, plus KenPom ranks them outside of the top-40 while projecting an 8-12 finish in league play.
If that prediction comes to fruition, it would be the only losing record Izzo ever logged in the Big Ten as head coach in his 26 years.
It's not the first time MSU has been a bubble team, but it's never been this talented, yet the Spartans' shortcomings continue to haunt them.
Michigan State has 14 games left – five of them are against Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan; three teams who have at least on paper proven to better than MSU.
It's likely another six or seven wins will be sufficient heading into the Big Ten tournament (if it happens), but even that's a tall task with the schedule mentioned and a rematch against Rutgers, a better team than they showed Tuesday.
Indiana and Ohio State aren't easy outs either.
Michigan State has a lot of work to do, considering the only team lower than them in NET ranking is Nebraska at No. 161.
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