The College Basketball Notebook

February 3, 2011 6:28 AM

Michigan State Leads Up The Disappointment List

IowaBeatsMichiganState.jpgPerhaps no team in the country is having a more disappointing season than Michigan State. Fresh off back-to-back Final Four runs, the Spartans were one of the preseason favorites in the Big Ten. But last night's shocking 20-point loss to Iowa has dropped them to 5-5 in the conference and 13-9 overall, and just making the NCAA Tournament is going to be a fight.

The frustration for Michigan State fans has to be that this team has the pieces to be a good, cohesive team and the biggest problem is that they just don't function on all cylinders. Point guard Kalin Lucas is one of the best at his position in the country. Draymond Green is solid down low, and Delvon Roe provides good supporting work on the frontline. Lucas could use more consistent help in the backcourt, but Durrell Summers and Korie Lucious have the capability to do that. This team just can't get its component parts all playing well together.

Prior to last night, Michigan State's previous four games had been a loss at Illinois, a loss at Purdue, a home loss to Michigan and an overtime win over Indiana. The last two fall in the category of disaster, even if they did escape the Hoosiers. And what happened in Iowa City yesterday was nothing short of stunning. The Spartans didn't rebound, and that's unheard of for a Tom Izzo-coached team. If nothing else, the veteran MSU coach can at least be glad he didn't take the Cleveland Cavaliers job when it was offered last summer.

Here's a brief look at four other teams that are coming up short of expectations...

Northwestern: This was supposed to be the year the Wildcats finally made the NCAA Tournament, ending the onus of being the only BCS conference team not to have been to the Dance. It doesn't look good right now with a 3-7 league record, 13-8 overall. Northwestern's biggest problem is not being able to get physical inside. John Shurna is a great scorer, but he doesn't hit the glass and center Luka Mirkovic is inconsistent.

Kansas State: A preseason Top 5 team they needed a win against Nebraska yesterday just to move to 3-5 in the Big 12. Bill Martin has a real problem with production at the forward position, as Curtis Kelly and Jamar Samuels are not consistent and are the primary reason the team has turnover problems.

Oklahoma State: Another Big 12 team that got a season-saving win on Wednesday, beating Missouri at home and moving to 3-5 in conference play. Their expectations weren't up there with Kansas State's, but they should be better than this. The Cowboys are another team that needs to be stronger on the glass, with only Marshall Moses doing his boardwork consistently. This is a team that gets crushed in rebounding totals most nights, as well as in free-throw scoring. There tends to be a link between the two, I would assume because teams that rebound get shots more likely to result in a foul, and it also conveys an aggressiveness edge likely to get teams to the line.

Dayton: The Flyers are 4-4 in the Atlantic 10, barely escaping St. Bonaventure on Wednesday. They've lost to the top contenders in the conference, Xavier, Duquesne and Richmond. The backcourt has not produced anything and their meal ticket, the forward tandem of Chris Wright and Chris Johnson isn't always there.

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Dan Flaherty is the editor of the Sports Notebook Family, published through the Real Clear Sports Blog Network, offering daily commentary on the NFL playoffs and coverage of college basketball. He is the author of The Last New Year's, a book that revisits the historic high points of college football's New Year's Day bowl games.

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