This is a question that not very many people, if any, would've asked five months ago.

The Michigan State men's basketball team was ranked 4th in the Associated Press preseason poll.  There was lots of optimism with a slew of returning players (Malik Hall, Tyson Walker, and A.J. Hoggard) and highly touted freshmen Xavier Booker and Coen Carr.

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But the season has evolved into a disappointment, by MSU's high standards (as there should be here, NOT perfection!!!  But high standards).  MSU enters Senior night, which is Wednesday night at the Breslin Center against Northwestern, with a 17-12 overall record and a 9-9 record in the Big Ten.

State has good wins over Baylor, Indiana State, and Illinois.  And they've played their traditional tough non-conference schedule (Duke and Arizona for example).

But the losses to James Madison, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Ohio State at home have definitely hurt them.  It's why MSU is on the NCAA Tournament bubble with one week left in the regular season. BTW, ESPN's Joe Lunardi has State as a 9 seed in his latest Bracketology.

So that leaves Northwestern at home on Wednesday and at Indiana on Sunday.  And then the first round of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday (which is a virtual certainty at this point).  And the way the season is going, MSU may need to win two of those games to clinch a spot in the NCAA's.  You would think 19 wins overall would get them in, no matter what.

But what if they lose both games this week?  It is not impossible that that could happen.  They've already lost to Northwestern earlier this season.  And winning at Indiana (no matter their record) is always difficult.  And then, what if they lose in the first round in the Big Ten Tournament?  That would make them 17-15 overall with six straight losses and 3-7 in their last 10 games.

17-15 overall likely directs MSU to the NIT.  Which they haven't played in since 1997.  And considering this high standards of this program, that is failure.

There's still lots to play for this season for MSU Men's Basketball.  But the next ten days might dictate whether the season is a failure, disappointment, or success.  And success is making the NCAA Tournament for the 26th straight season.

Hold on tight, Spartan fans!!!

Lansing-Area Girls Basketball Top 10 Poll - March 4th