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Michigan State basketball can’t seem to win out-of-state games

It’s time to change this trend.

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Michigan State basketball
© David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State basketball cannot seem to figure things out away from the state of Michigan. How’ve the Spartans fared?

Michigan State basketball is coming off its sixth loss of the season, this time to Northwestern. The Spartans traveled to Northwestern but were unable to come away with the victory.

Does that sound familiar? MSU leaving the state to and coming home with a loss?

I’m sure that does sound familiar to you and this is not a good sign for this team.

In-state vs. out-of-state results

The state of Michigan has been kind to MSU this season. Everywhere else in the country unfortunately has not.

The Spartans have played 11 games in Michigan this season and boast a 9-2 record in those games. Ten of those came at the Breslin Center with the 11th being the neutral site win over Baylor in Detroit. Not too shabby at all. But traveling outside of the state is when we have run into some issues. Michigan State has played four games outside of the state of Michigan, and in those games we have an 0-4 record.

This includes two road conference losses to Nebraska and Northwestern as well as two neutral site losses to Duke and Arizona. It’s pretty natural to struggle more when you have to travel, but 0-4 outside of the state definitely makes you wonder what’s going on.

What could be causing this?

There are a few reasons you see teams lose on the road more often than at home. One is when you’re just playing a really good team. That was the case when we played Duke and Arizona. Losing to those teams this season isn’t necessarily a bad sign, especially considering both games were competitive.

A second reason you may lose games on the road is when the road team has an elite road environment. This will be the case when MSU plays Illinois on Thursday, but Nebraska and Northwestern aren’t known for having an elite home court advantage.

Not prepared or mentally strong

So these two losses tell me that we weren’t prepared enough and not mentally tough. Tom Izzo even took some of the blame during his postgame press conference for not being ready to play. Graham Couch with the Lansing State Journal shared this summary of what Izzo said, “Then clarifies that his (Izzo’s) team was prepared, but wasn’t ready.”

This quote is a little strange since being ready to play means you’re prepared. But regardless, Izzo confirmed they weren’t 100 percent ready to play last night.

This loss also shows this team might not be as mentally tough as we thought. It’s hard to win on the road, especially in the Big Ten. But that’s what teams with MSU’s expectations have to do. Not only teams with Spartans’ expectations, but teams with as much experience as MSU has shouldn’t be impacted as much by these road games.

All five starters are upperclassmen, meaning they have been on the road more than a few times. They shouldn’t be coming out as flat as they have against Northwestern and Nebraska because they should know what to expect on the road.

The Spartans will have to turn the page fast as they hit the road once again against Illinois on Thursday. Winning that game will show this loss is an abnormality, and prove that we are capable of winning outside of Michigan.

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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