By: Will Burchfield
Michigan State’s storied basketball history makes it hard for one team, in any year, to stand out. This year’s team does.
In fact, Tom Izzo pointed out last week that the Spartans are entering uncharted territory.
“I don’t know what the best start is in Michigan State history, but we have to be closing in on it,” he said after the Spartans knocked off Penn State.
Izzo’s squad picked up another win on Saturday at Indiana, bringing its record to 22-3. Has Michigan State ever had a better start through 25 games?
This year’s team only company is the 2000-01 squad that also got off to a 22-3 start. Of course, that season didn’t come to a fitting end. The Spartans lost in the first round of the conference tournament to Penn State and were ousted in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament by Arizona.
The stakes this year are high — as they should be. For the massively-talented Spartans to fulfill their destiny, it’s generally agreed they have to win it all. Anything else would be a failure.
Currently No. 4 in the AP Poll, Michigan State will get a huge test at home on Saturday versus No. 3 Purdue. The Boilermakers are 12-0 in Big Ten play.
The Spartans also play at Iowa on Tuesday.
In Izzo’s 23 seasons as head coach, Michigan State has 10 times reached the 20-win mark through 25 games. The 1999-2000 season, which crested in Izzo’s lone national championship, ironically wasn’t one of them. Those Spartans started 19-6 before winning 13 of their final 14 games, including a 51-point blowout of Michigan to close out the regular season.
Prior to Izzo, Michigan State’s best start in a season of at least 25 games came under Judd Heathcote in 1977-78 and 1994-95 when the Spartans went 21-4.