Michigan State basketball has been one of the nation’s best programs against ranked opponents. Just how good have the Spartans been?
Tom Izzo knows how to win.
It’s no secret that Izzo isn’t afraid to play anyone anywhere, and that includes the NCAA Tournament. He has had some classic wins over Kentucky and Duke, including last season’s Elite Eight win over a loaded Blue Devils team led by Zion Williamson.
There’s a reason the Spartans are in the Champions Classic every year to tip off the regular season and that’s because Izzo loves a challenge and he considers his program as a perennial powerhouse.
One way you can live up to that distinction is by proving it.
The Spartans have done just that over the past decade as one of just 10 teams with a winning record vs. ranked opponents.
Michigan State has the highest win percentage against ranked teams of any Big Ten program, posting a 55 percent rate to Wisconsin’s 50.5 percent.
Kansas is at the top of the list and it’s no surprise that Duke and Kentucky are right behind as the only teams in the country with a winning percentage over 60 percent. But the Spartans sitting at No. 7 behind those three and Oregon, Virginia and Villanova just goes to show how elite the program has been since 2010.
What will put Michigan State basketball on the next level?
Izzo has been chasing national title No. 2 for about 20 years now and he is one of the best at beating ranked opponents and he has eight Final Fours to his name, but Michigan State still hasn’t reached that ‘blue blood’ status.
What will change that?
Honestly, if Izzo can win that second national title and continue to put together 25-plus win seasons with deep runs in March for the next five, or so, years, we may be talking about the Spartans as a true blue blood.
Beating the best teams in the country at a 55 percent clip is impressive, considering only three teams have won over 60 percent of their ranked games and only six have done better than the Spartans — none from the Big Ten.
Don’t let anyone tell you that Michigan State isn’t elite.