3. Kentucky (Nov. 15)
By now, we are all used to Tom Izzo scheduling these grueling games early in the season. By now, we are all used to losing these games, mainly because they’re against top-five teams.
I understand the reason: early non-conference games rarely determine the outcome of the season and I love the idea of playing an elite team that will expose your flaws early so they can get corrected by the time the conference schedule rolls around.
Kentucky came in as the No. 2 team in the country, bringing in a national player of the year candidate in Oscar Tshiebwe (albeit coming off injury), and yet another top-10 recruiting class, which resulted in Kentucky being a 7-point favorite heading into this matchup.
But MSU came to play.
Although they were losing for most of regulation, they never let the lead get to more than four in the second half. With some gritty defense, timely jumpers, clutch free throws, and a beauty of an inbound play, the Spartans took the Wildcats to two overtimes, ultimately upsetting the No. 2 Wildcats as we couldn’t help but wonder what this team could turn into by year’s end.