Michigan State wouldn't have had its bubble burst by suffering a loss to Iowa on Wednesday night, but an "L" certainly wouldn't have helped its NCAA tournament chances. Couple that with wanting revenge for a 20-point loss at Iowa earlier in the season and there was certainly no lack of motivation to beat the Hawkeyes, especially when you consider that it was senior night at the Breslin Center.
The Spartans started a bit shaky and struggled to pull away from Iowa in the first half, but the second half was a different story. MSU outscored Iowa by a margin of 49-34, resulting in a final score of 85-66. There were a lot of instances where Iowa tried to get into a track meet with MSU by pressuring the ball on the inbounds, and that ended up backfiring. The Spartans did a good job of running the floor and making baskets in transition, helping them turn this game into a blowout.
Had Iowa done a better job of making free throws, this might have been a much different game. The Hawkeyes went to the line a whopping 33 times, but they only made 20 of the attempts. Michigan State wasn't great from the line, going 18-27 on the night, but considering how they were playing in general in the second half, it didn't matter.
Keith Appling led all scorers with 18 points. Kalin Lucas finished with 17 points and came out toward the end of the game after he kissed center court. Mike Kebler and Durrell Summers did the same thing, keeping the senior night tradition going despite the block "S" being replaced by the Spartan logo.
With this game in the rear-view mirror, all of Michigan State's focus turns toward the Michigan game on Saturday. Not only do the Spartans want to avoid being swept by Michigan -- it hasn't happened since 1997 -- but this is a huge game for the NCAA tournament. Both teams are on the bubble, and although I wouldn't call this a must-win game for the Spartans, a victory would likely seal their tournament bid and kill Michigan's in one fell swoop.