Michigan State basketball: Seniors have their legacies on the line

Michigan State v Michigan
Michigan State v Michigan / Luke Hales/GettyImages

Michigan State basketball has failed to capitalize on an opportunity to strengthen its NCAA Tournament resume by losing its past three games (two of which were played at home).

Life on the bubble is stressful and the Spartans must find a way to win their final two regular-season games and make some noise in the Big Ten Tournament to assure themselves a spot in the field of 64. The conference has 10 teams currently battling for their postseason fates (Rutgers, Penn State, Michigan, and Maryland are the only four not in contention for an at-large bid). Michigan State has plenty of work left to be done as they sit in eighth place heading into the final week of scheduled contests. Northwestern comes into the Breslin on March 6 and then Michigan State heads to Indiana on Sunday.

The seniors have been plagued by inconsistent production throughout their careers and that's impacted how little they've been able to accomplish when they are compared to Tom Izzo's previous classes that have won rings and hung banners.

Mady Sissoko, Tyson Walker, and A.J. Hoggard have been one-dimensional during several games and that has been problematic. Sissoko gives you rebounding, Hoggard's assist totals are typically high, while Walker can score in bunches. The other senior -- Malik Hall -- is the most versatile of the group yet even he disappears for stretches during key moments. Sissoko's offense, Hoggard's shooting, Walker's assist-to-turnover ratio, Hall's assertiveness (his points per game average should be higher considering how talented he with his size), are all areas that could be much better.

How they'll be remembered depends on how these four perform throughout the course of the next few weeks. They certainly don't want to be the team that ended Michigan State's NCAA Tournament appearance streak at 25 (good for the third-longest active run in the nation). That would be a heavy burden to carry.

Izzo has taken the heat from the media and fan base yet his seniors need to elevate their level of play when it matters most and their leadership and accountability require improvement, immediately. When players commit to a program of this caliber, the intense pressure to excel in March comes with the territory. Let's see how they respond.