The Michigan State Spartans bench Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State expects to return Thursday at Rutgers

The Michigan State Spartans men's basketball team hasn't competed since suffering a 55-54 loss to the Purdue Boilermakers on Jan. 8 because of COVID-19 issues within the program. 

As Chris Solari reported for the Detroit Free Press, however, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said on Tuesday that he expects the Spartans to return to action at the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Thursday evening. 

Back on Jan. 13, Izzo confirmed that guard Steven Izzo, his son, and center Mady Sissoko tested positive for the coronavirus. Two other players tested positive during the team's pause that included the postponements of three games, and Tom Izzo said on Tuesday that junior Gabe Brown and an unidentified assistant coach both tested positive in the past week. 

Big Ten guidelines mandate that any player who tests positive must miss 17 days of basketball-related activities and then undergo cardiac testing before he or she is cleared. According to Solari, 13 of 15 Michigan State players have returned positive coronavirus results since the summer months. 

The Associated Press (h/t ESPN) added that Sissoko and shooting guard Joshua Langford are on track to be cleared to play at Rutgers. 

Nineteen people associated with the program, including Tom Izzo, have tested positive since the health crisis hit the United States. 

Michigan State sits at 8-4 overall and 2-4 in Big Ten play. 

Zac Wassink is a football and futbol aficionado who is a PFWA member and is probably yelling about Tottenham Hotspur at the moment. Erik Lamela and Eli Manning apologist. Chanted for Matt Harvey to start the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 2015 World Series at Citi Field. Whoops. You can find him on Twitter at @ZacWassink

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