It was just one of those days.
It's not quite Defcon: Panic at this point, but last night's loss in East Lansing raised more than one red flag about this Michigan basketball team. For the third straight big game on the road, the Wolverines took a punch in the mouth and couldn't quite recover. This time, however, they just kept taking the blows, throwing none in return and were handed their worst loss at the Breslin Center in over ten years.
At Indiana, home to Ohio State and the last two road games at Wisconsin and now Michigan State is probably the most brutal stretch of games any team in the country has had to face this season. Did the young team with a relative lack of depth tire in this game? It's definitely possible, but not a plausible reason for getting their teeth kicked in.
Michigan State also put on an off-the-court clinic. Has Crisler ever rocked as hard as the Breslin was last night? Between the level of play the Spartans performed at and the intimidating atmosphere from the crowd, I'd agree with those who say there probably wasn't a team in America that would have beaten that team last night. That's a testament to not only the team, but the crowd who played a huge role in creating the toughest environment possible.
Not only does the team need to answer the bell coming down the final stretch of the conference season, but so do the students and crowd in general. Don't get me wrong; Michigan is undefeated at home and plays much better there. It's still time to step it up though. An elite team needs an elite crowd behind them. Hopefully this can become the case when their team needs it most.
Can this team recover? Absolutely. On paper, it's still probably the most talented team in America. Paper doesn't cut it though. Winning the Big Ten is more than just being talented. It's about taking those aforementioned punches and punching back. Is it a leadership problem? Maybe. Zack Novak could take those punches. There's a grit and toughness that's lacking against teams that come out on the offensive. Ohio State provided a good blueprint on how to beat this team: attack, attack, attack. Now it's up to the coaches, players and the program to fight back and show why this team is capable of making a run.