COVID-19 has officially impacted the Big Ten basketball season.
Just as coronavirus forced numerous postponements and cancellations during the college football season, including games for Michigan and Michigan State, the disease has now made its way into numerous college basketball programs within the Big Ten.
The Spartans are the latest to feel its effects with three positive tests on the team. Due to the number of positive cases, Michigan State’s matchup with No. 5 Iowa is now postponed.
“I'm really disappointed, but it just goes to prove that this can affect anyone," MSU head coach Tom Izzo said. "I feel so comfortable that me, my son and my players did everything possible and followed every protocol as best we could. I'm really, really impressed with the way they have conducted themselves. This virus does not discriminate and I can't emphasize enough how important it is to wear a mask, wash your hands and follow protocols."
On Wednesday during his news conference, Izzo announced that freshman Mady Sissoko and sophomore Steven Izzo tested positive for COVID-19 and would not travel for the matchup against Iowa. Coach Izzo noted his son and Sissoko tested positive four days prior to Wednesday, but team activities remained ongoing since daily tests were administered to his players and each of them continued to test negative. Big Ten rules state players who test positive are required to sit out from team activities for 17 days.
Despite those two positive tests, the game with Iowa was still scheduled to take place. However, a media release from the school on Wednesday evening announced another positive test, forcing the postponement of the Iowa contest.
The key wording for the status of the game is “postponed” instead of canceled. According to an official statement from Iowa, the game may still take place at a later date.
“The institutions will work with the Conference to identify rescheduling options,” the University of Iowa said.
The postponement with Iowa means MSU will have to wait to overcome its latest heartbreaking defeat.
On Friday, MSU led Purdue by as many as 17 in the second half, and even when the Boilermakers managed to tie the game with just over five minutes left, MSU remained in control with a 54-50 lead with 19 seconds left.
But then chaos ensued.
Aaron Henry missed a free throw, then a foul by Rocket Watts put Purdue’s Eric Hunter at the line. Two makes from Hunter cut MSU’s lead to two. Then, MSU failed to inbound the ball with it last touching Watts before it went out of bounds.
With 9 seconds remaining, Henry fouled Trevion Williams sending him to the line. Williams made the first, but missed the second and a battle for the loose ball would give Purdue possession on a jump ball. Out of the timeout, Williams converted a 12-foot jumper for a 55-54 lead.
Henry would drive the length of the court but miss his running jumper, and MSU’s improbable collapse was complete. The Spartans managed to blow a four-point lead with just 19 seconds left.
The loss gave MSU its fourth loss in Big Ten Play. At 2-4, the Spartans are four games back of the conference lead currently held by Michigan (11-0, 6-0). MSU now finds its sports betting odds at +1000 to win the Big Ten — a stark contrast from opening the season at +360.
MSU’s national title odds have dropped as well, falling to +4000 from +1500.
Backing MSU against the spread has been costly for sports bettors. The Spartans have managed to cover in only three of their 12 games this season. MSU’s 25% cover rate is tied for the 25th-worst mark in the country for teams who have played at least four games.