The Michigan State Spartans still can’t shake COVID-19.
After postponing key conference matchups against No. 4 Iowa and Indiana due to the virus, MSU was forced to postpone another marquee contest. The Spartans’ game Sunday at home vs. No. 21 Illinois was added to the list after three more positive COVID-19 tests within the program.
Freshman guard Davis Smith, conditioning coach Marshall Repp and graduate manager Lourawls “TumTum” Nairn Jr. were the three members to test positive.
MSU’s Jan. 14 game at Iowa and the Jan. 17 contest against Indiana were postponed after positive tests from senior Joshua Langford, sophomore Steven Izzo and freshman Mady Sissoko.
The key designation with the games is they’ve been postponed and not canceled. Each of the schools will work with the Big Ten to reschedule each of the contests. However, no final decision has been made on games beyond Jan. 23.
For an 8-4 MSU team sitting at just 2-4 in conference play, the Spartans need every opportunity to bolster their postseason resume. As it stands, MSU lacks a quality win. Duke and Rutgers are no longer ranked in the top 25, tarnishing what were the most impressive showings from the Spartans. The reality is that MSU can’t rely on name-brand recognition to make the NCAA field with an at-large bid — not when the team has repeatedly flopped against opponents such as Northwestern, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Purdue. It also didn’t help that MSU’s non-conference matchup at No. 13 Virginia was also postponed this season.
Despite not playing since they blew a late lead in a 55-54 loss to Purdue on Jan. 18, the Spartans’ future sports betting odds have taken a hit as the team has been forced to sit out. Just five days ago, MSU went from +1500 to win the national title to +3000 currently. Meanwhile, MSU’s odds to claim the Big Ten championship went from +1000 to +1300.
One positive MSU does have going for itself is it will have chances to add signature wins to its resume — if the team can shake the COVID bug. MSU still has two matchups against No. 7 Michigan on the schedule, in addition to two games versus No. 15 Ohio State and a home contest with No. 4 Iowa.
MSU may need to impress in those games down the stretch, especially with the uncertainty of being able to reschedule the contests that have already been postponed.