Originally written on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 12/16/11
Last year was no doubt a down year in East Lansing, Michigan. The Spartans still won 19 games and made the NCAA Tournament, but that’s definitely below par in a place like Michigan State- where they went to 6 Final Fours in 12 years. And entering the season as the consensus #2 team in all of college basketball, not advancing in the tourney was a huge disappointment. They had to win some games in the Big Ten Tournament to even qualify, and no one expected that.This is a proverbial rebuilding year, as the Spartans re-loaded at many key positions. There were in no one’s preseason top 25, or even close. Yet here they are ranked #21 in the AP poll, #22 in the coaches and #23 in the Fox Sports polls. Why is this team better than last year’s? “I think our togetherness is better. I think our energy getting back to our defense and our toughness is better, it’s our inexperience that’s worse,” Tom Izzo said at conference media day. That kind of sounds a lot like Illinois, and the difference...
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