As I’ve said before, don’t ever count out Michigan State.
It’s one of those unwritten rules in college basketball.
The Spartans reminded everyone of that Tuesday night, grinding out a 49-47 win over Wisconsin in a boxing match between two of the best teams in not only the Big Ten, but in college basketball as a whole.
Michigan State played Wisconsin’s game, getting after it on the defensive end of the floor, and more importantly, by taking care of the basketball.
The Spartans only had 10 turnovers. The Badgers had nine.
“They don’t turn it over. I don’t care who they’re playing,” Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said in a post-game press conference. “So we said we have to play like them in that respect. We wanted to run, but we wanted to be solid with the ball, and I think we did a good job of that.”
What is even more impressive about the Spartans’ win is that they won this game on the road.
Madison is typically the place where victory hopes go to die, but on this night, inside the Kohl Center, one of the toughest venues in college hoops, the Spartans found a way to get the job done.
Michigan State embraced the challenge in front of them. The Spartans relished it as if it were gold.
It wasn’t pretty, but then again, the Spartans have never been about earning style points. All they care about is winning.
“I just love playing against Wisconsin,” Michigan State’s Keith Appling said in a post-game press conference. “Each year they have competitive guys that push me and make me better, so I just look at it as a challenge.”
The Spartans accepted the challenge and overcame it.
One more reminder of why no one can ever count out the Spartans.
Brian Lester is a college basketball writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @BLester1993.