Are two straight losses in the middle of the season a reason for Michigan State and its fans to panic, coming on the heels of a 13-game win streak?
Probably not. Just about any team that eventually reaches a championship level can look back and point to a moment in the season where things looked out of sync, the idea of rediscovering any sort of momentum feeling like a long shot.
Maybe that’s what Michigan State is in the midst of following Saturday’s overtime loss at home to Indiana, its second straight compounded by the fact it came against a team that had lost seven straight. Only time will tell as nearly half the Big Ten season remains.
The Spartans (18-4, 9-2 Big Ten) get their next chance to turn things around Tuesday when they head to Illinois. And while we can only predict how the recent slip-up will look by the end of the season, one thing that is crystal clear is Michigan State’s margin for error has shrunk dramatically.
It did the moment Joshua Langford went out of the lineup back in late December and it shriveled to near nothing when Kyle Ahrens missed three games with a bad back. Now that Langford has officially been lost for the season, it means there’s no help on the way.
The result? Michigan State can ill afford many off nights, and it had a doozie on Saturday, getting outrebounded for just the third time all season — Indiana also grabbed 20 offensive rebounds — and making just 8 of 22 free throws despite entering the game shooting better than 77 percent in conference games.