Not long ago, the Michigan State and Iowa football teams squared off for the Big 10 championship game. (It should be noted that the "Big 10" actually consists of 14 teams -- go figure). At any rate, the Spartans pulled out a narrow victory which propelled them into the -- drum roll please -- Final Four of college football.
As we know, they would later get absolutely obliterated at the hands of Alabama in a semi-final game. 38-0 is a lot of things. A beatdown, ass-whuppin, men against boys, whales devouring plankton, Barney Fife taking on Rambo in a cage match -- and like that. Let's just say it was a rather one-sided contest.
But fast forward and Michigan State was -- presto -- ranked the #1 team in the nation in college basketball. Those pesky Spartans were at it again. Per usual, they front loaded their schedule with mostly home games against patsies.
[It wasn't until their 12th game that they had to play a true "road" contest in a hostile arena. In all, of the Spartans thirty one game schedule, they only have to play nine in an opponent's arena. Does that smack of the proverbial unlevel playing field?]
And then something strange happened. Against in-state "rival" Oakland University, they of the third tier Horizon League, the Spartans needed overtime to finally barely dispatch the lowly Grizzlies. A few eyebrows went up among the national pollsters. Yes, it was a win, but.....
Then MSU headed off to Iowa. The Hawkeyes would thump them. No more #1 for Michigan State. Down they fell in the polls. Iowa had exacted a bit of revenge, though in a different sport.
Fast forward another couple weeks. Iowa headed to MSU for a rematch. This was the Spartans' chance to set things right again. Instead, they were drilled by 17 points at home. The Iowa revenge was complete. And let's face it -- when a highly ranked team gets taken to the woodshed at home to the tune of 17 points -- no matter who did they flogging -- they're going to rightfully tumble even further in the polls.
In their very next game, Michigan State got beat yet again by Wisconsin. After all the hoopla and early patsy games, the Spartans now find themselves a very mediocre 3-3 in conference play. How far will they fall even more in the polls? Unknown, but it should be at least several more positions.
Yep, Iowa might have got hammered in the Rose Bowl by Stanford a few weeks ago, but their hoops squad has taken out some revenge on Michigan teams. Not only did they trash MSU twice, but also knocked off UM just recently as well. A clean sweep of the "mitten state".
Of course all of this will have long been forgotten when the -- another drum roll please -- Holy Grail of the NCAA hoops tournament rolls around in a couple months. Anything can happen, and sometimes does. There's no "super team" out there this year. Heck, even the supposedly unbeatable Kentucky Wildcat steam-rolling machine got knocked off last year in the semis.
So Michigan State might well recover and eventually go on a run when the tournament starts. Barring a total collapse over the next few weeks, they should at least qualify. Where they will be seeded is anybody's guess.
But there's two things we know.
The Spartans were overrated to start the season, and are definitely vulnerable to a good team in any given contest -- at home or on the road.
And second, the Iowa Hawkeyes have exacted their revenge indeed for their loss at the hands of the Spartans in that football game.
True, Iowa was taken to their own woodshed by Stanford to the tune of 45-16 in the Rose Bowl. That's a serious whuppin.
But it pales in comparison to the annihilation the Michigan State Spartans were handed at the hands of the Alabama Crimson Tide. 38-0?
Did I mention Barney climbing into the Octagon to square off with Rambo?