After picking up a fourth straight win to improve to 8-5 on the year, Michigan State basketball has put a bow on non-conference play and it's hoping to make a run in Big Ten play.
The Spartans are 0-2 in Big Ten play after getting walloped by Wisconsin and then losing a tough one on the road against Nebraska. They should be at least 1-1 on the season in conference play, but the Nebraska loss will probably haunt the Spartans for a while -- especially if the Big Ten title comes down to one game.
The Big Ten schedule won't be kind to Michigan State for a couple of weeks, but it's a good time for a test. The Spartans have already proven themselves against the likes of Baylor and Indiana State and now they'll be forced to try and win on the road against Northwestern and Illinois over the next couple of weeks.
The good news for Michigan State is the fact that Northwestern is beatable despite still having Boo Buie and Illinois may be without Terrance Shannon Jr. who was suspended after some serious off-court allegations recently.
If Michigan State can get past Penn State and split the Northwestern and Illinois games, at least, it could make a nice run into late-January and through Febraury.
The Spartans will get Rutgers and Minnesota at home right after, followed by Maryland and Wisconsin on the road, and then back home against Michigan and Maryland. That's six straight winnable games followed by a road game against Minnesota, a home game against Illinois and two more winnable road games.
If the Spartans play as well as they have in the past four games throughout the Big Ten, I don't see how they aren't at least the second-best team in the conference.
The schedule is set up nicely for a winning streak, so it's time to make it happen and push for the first Big Ten title since 2019-20.