The Michigan State basketball team is in a very unfamiliar position entering the 2011 Big Ten tournament. The Spartans are not only the No. 7 seed, but they are squarely on the bubble, likely needing at least a win against 10th-seeded Iowa to keep their NCAA tournament streak alive. MSU's game against Iowa is set for Thursday, 25 minutes after the end of the Northwestern/Minnesota game.
The last three years, Michigan State has had a bye in the Big Ten tournament. This year is the first time since 2007 that the Spartans are in the first round of the bracket. That year they were also the seventh seed, and they opened the tournament with a win over Northwestern to advance to the quarterfinals. There, Wisconsin beat MSU by 13 points.
The last time Michigan State played Iowa in the Big Ten tournament was back in 2006. This was when Iowa was still good at basketball, and the second-seeded Hawkeyes beat MSU in the semifinals. A year earlier, Iowa beat Michigan State in the quarterfinals as a seven seed.
If Michigan State beats Iowa on Thursday, it will face Purdue in the quarterfinals on Friday evening. The Spartans are 0-2 against the Boilermakers this season, and just last week Purdue blew out MSU at the Breslin Center. First things first, though, the Spartans have to beat Iowa, a team they split the season series with.