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Michigan State basketball boasts interesting record based on halftime leads

Comebacks are not this team’s strength.



Michigan State basketball
© Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State basketball is 10-1 when leading at the half but it seems to never pull off the comeback when it trails.

If you’re someone who gets extremely anxious during Michigan State basketball games because you just can’t wait for the second half to finish to see if the Spartans win, then you should keep reading.

Michigan State’s record has been very predictable this season based on the halftime score of its games. It’s common for the team leading at halftime to go on to win the game, but MSU is taking this to the next level.

Let’s take a look at the numbers and see what the Spartans halftime scores tell us.

Halftime score determines outcome of the game

Michigan State has played 17 games so far this season, currently boasting a 10-7 record. Out of their 17 games, the Spartans have led at halftime 11 times and have trailed six times. In those 11 games MSU has led at the half, the Spartans record is 10-1. That is an amazing stat that you love to see. When MSU is leading at the half they almost always go on to win the game.

The one game where this was not true was in the loss to Nebraska. The Spartans led the Cornhuskers 34-31 at the half before losing 77-70. All things considered, a 10-1 record while leading at the half is great, and the one loss being a true road game against a quality opponent isn’t such a bad thing.

Unable to win when trailing at the half

The other side of this stat is where it starts to look bad for MSU. When trailing at the half, the Spartans are 0-6. A lot of these games Michigan State had a chance to win, including James Madison, Duke, and Arizona, but they were unable to complete the comeback.

While a 10-1 record when leading at the half suggests Michigan State is the veteran and mature team that we all know they are, an 0-6 record when trailing at the half tells us the exact opposite. I’m not suggesting MSU should win every game when trailing at the half, even winning half of them is difficult. But an 0-6 record is just flat-out bad.

What does the data tell us?

To give a little context, KenPom did a study on the percent chance of winning based on one teams current lead and the amount of time left in the game. They found that teams with a one-point lead at halftime go on to win 53.4% of the time. Teams with a 10-point halftime lead will win the game 79.8% of the time. I share this data to show that it’s hard to win when trailing at the half, but not impossible. This study shows MSU’s 10-1 record when leading at the half is extremely good, but their 0-6 record when trailing is just as bad.

Michigan State has to find a way to win games when trailing at the half. It’s unrealistic to expect to have the lead at halftime every game. So the Spartans need to learn how to not only fight back and make the game close, which they’ve proven to be able to do, but to also come out on top.

But for the time being, the first halves appear extremely important for Michigan State. If they can go into the locker room with the lead, the Spartans should feel confident they will win. But until MSU proves it can win after trailing at the break, it probably shouldn’t feel too confident in these games.

Lead writer for Spartan Shadows since April 2023, writing over 450 articles. Michigan State basketball, football and recruiting expert. Class of 2019 graduate from Michigan State University specializing in Sports Management. Daily MSU runs a popular X page (@daily_msu) covering all things MSU Sports.


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