When Michigan State takes on Rutgers on Thursday at 7 p.m., it will mark 20 days since the Spartans’ last game.
Numerous COVID-19 delays have kept MSU off the court, but the team will be getting back some of the games it missed while the program was suspended.
The Big Ten announced the Iowa game originally scheduled for Jan. 14 has moved to Feb. 2 and will air on FS1. A time slot for the Iowa contest has yet to be decided. MSU’s home contest against Nebraska originally planned for Feb. 3 will now take place on Feb. 6 with a 6:30 p.m. tip on the Big Ten Network.
As it stands, MSU still needs to find room for three more games to reschedule. The Spartans lost a matchup with rival Michigan due to the Wolverines being placed in a two-week shutdown, and MSU will look to find open dates for lost home matchups with Illinois and Indiana.
According to Coach Tom Izzo, the team will be prepared to play this week, despite two more positive COVID-19 tests. Speaking with reporters, Izzo said junior Gabe Brown and an assistant coach both tested positive in the past week.
Brown is the fifth player for MSU to be placed in the COVID-19 protocol. Freshman Mady Sissoko, sophomore walk-on Steven Izzo, senior Joshua Langford and freshman walk-on Davis Smith are the others to have tested positive.
“We’re going to continue to test daily and do what we have to do,” Izzo said. “We’ve been in contact with Rutgers. Obviously, you see how fast things can change, but we’re raring to go, ready to go.”
MSU practiced on Monday for the first time since Jan. 13. That’s when Langford became the third player to test positive within the program, forcing an immediate postponement on the Iowa game. The team has been working out in small groups and individually since Jan. 16.
MSU (8-4, 2-4 Big Ten) handily won the first matchup with the Scarlet Knights (8-4, 4-6), recording a 68-45 win back on Jan. 5 in East Lansing. It was one of the rare instances where MSU covered the sports betting spread, with the Spartans entering as three-point favorites.
MSU held Rutgers to just 30% shooting for the game (18-59), including 3 of 12 from 3-point range. But the Scarlet Knights didn’t help themselves; the team finished 6 of 17 at the free-throw line.
Of teams who have played at least five games this season, MSU is tied for the eighth-worst record against the spread this season (3-9). The Spartans have managed to cover just once in their last nine games, with the lone win coming from the blowout victory over Rutgers.
Since the pause, MSU’s future odds have risen. The Spartans are now +4000 to win the national title and now +1700 to claim the Big Ten championship.