On Jan. 4, Maryland came into the Breslin Center and was thoroughly dominated by then-No. 1 Michigan State in a 91-61 rout.
Losing by 30 is never an ideal outcome, but at the time, it felt like more of an indication that the Spartans were a juggernaut than an indictment of the Terps’ potential without Justin Jackson and Ivan Bender. After all, Michigan State’s only loss at the time was to Duke back in November. The Spartans had wins over North Carolina and Notre Dame and had not been upset coming into their meeting with Maryland.
However, the last three games have caused a change in how people should be looking at Michigan State.
Last weekend, the Spartans came into Columbus and left with an 80-64 defeat in a game where Ohio State led by as much as 25. That was enough to raise an eyebrow, but surely Michigan State would bounce back from that by beating Rutgers at the Breslin Center. I mean, come on — Rutgers lost to Hartford and Stony Brook at home.
Well, the Spartans won, but they needed overtime to squeak by the Scarlet Knights, 76-72. So now we have a double-digit loss on the road and a four-point victory over 11-7 Rutgers at home.
And on Saturday, Michigan State lost to unranked Michigan 82-72 at the Breslin Center for the first time since 2014. Like the defeat to Ohio State, this game got out of hand — after the Spartans pulled ahead 55-54 with less than nine minutes remaining, the Wolverines closed the game with a 28-17 run.
None of this is particularly promising for Maryland. Michigan State went from being one of the best teams in the country to possibly being not even the best team in the Big Ten. (Purdue is currently on an 11-game winning streak, for what it’s worth.)
A 30-point loss is never good. But now that the Spartans are suddenly looking rather vulnerable, it’s especially troubling for the Terps. Monday’s matchup with the suddenly maybe-dangerous Wolverines should tell us a lot about where Mark Turgeon’s team stands.