Can Michigan State Spartans Continue Playing Well Once Big 10 Play Starts?

By Taylor Sturm
Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 5 Michigan State Spartans absolutely demolished the Southland Conference’s New Orleans Privateers, as expected, 101-48. Four Spartan starters scored in double digits and a total of 14 different players saw time on the court in the blowout. Keith Appling led all scorers with 27 points, and Denzel Valentine had a double-double in a game that was basically a warm-up for Big 10 play.

The win over New Orleans means that Michigan State finishes the non-conference season 11-1 after starting the season ranked No. 2 overall. The Spartans spent a brief stint at No. 1 overall after upsetting the then No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats, but then fell a few weeks later to the giant-killing North Carolina Tar Heels. Throughout non-conference play, the Spartans have looked to be one of the top 5 offenses in the entire country and leads the NCAA in assists.

Next to the Kentucky win and North Carolina loss, the 67-63 win over the Oakland Golden Grizzlies was the game that Michigan State looked the shakiest. Luckily for the Spartans, they kicked it into gear and beat their next three opponents by an average of 33 points. The Spartans continue to prove that they are a Final Four ready team by steamrolling weaker opposition.

Michigan State will enter Big 10 play ranked behind the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes and No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers, who are undefeated. The Spartans play the Buckeyes twice and the Badgers once, which will give them ample opportunity to seal a No. 1 seed in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. However, the Big 10 is extremely talented this season, and Michigan State cannot afford to overlook even their first opponents, the Penn State Nittany Lions. After an impressive non-conference record, expect big things from the Spartans in the Big 10.

Taylor Sturm is an SEC Basketball Writer for Follow him on Twitter @TSturmRS, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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