Tom Izzo calls Michigan State's performance 'humiliating' after loss to Penn State

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USA TODAY

Tom Izzo calls Michigan State's performance 'humiliating' after loss to Penn State

After a strong start to Big Ten play that saw wins over Minnesota, Northwestern and Rutgers, Michigan State got back in the loss column Saturday.

It was a unique game not just because Penn State beat Michigan State, something that hadn't happened since March 2011. The Spartans and Nittany Lions clashed in the Palestra, the famous Philadelphia arena that's been hosting college hoops games since the 1920s.

The arena's legacy is so impressive that it's dubbed the Cathedral of College Basketball.

The setting seemed to make Saturday's 72-63 loss by Michigan State sting even more for head coach Tom Izzo, who let his team have it in his postgame press conference, calling the Spartans' effort "humiliating" and apologizing to the fans and even the building.

"This was humiliating for me to be in such a great city and in a great basketball venue, and our players did not play and I didn't have our players ready to play," Izzo said, his comments published by MLive.com. "The whole thing falls on me. But I'm just so tired of trying to explain why I don't see the daylight at the end of tunnel. I see us getting better, and then the minute I say it, we take that for granted.

"My apologies to this magnificent facility. ... I feel like we cheated those of you who have seen great teams and great coaches and great players play here. You got robbed today."

Penn State led for pretty much the whole game and shot better (46.4 percent compared to 41.1 percent). The Lions scored 16 points off 17 turnovers by the Spartans. Penn State had a 38-28 rebounding edge.

All those things drove Izzo nuts.

"I am embarrassed that in a city where basketball is like this that my team would play like they did in that first half," Izzo said. "We guarded nobody. We played with no energy. I was totally frustrated with the way we played. I guess I'm going to have to live with some of it and that's the problem with freshmen — up and down. But it was very discouraging."

Izzo started all four of his highly touted freshmen in Saturday's game. Miles Bridges played in his second game back from an ankle injury, and the rust has most definitely not worn off, Izzo evaluating his star at around 80-percent health.

But Bridges' effort was as much a topic of conversation as his health. This from MLive.com's Brendan F. Quinn:

Multiple times, Bridges was caught standing and watching, instead of running and rebounding. He missed one loose ball in the second half and got blistered on the court by junior point guard Tum Tum Nairn, and then sent to the bench.

But it sounds like Bridges was hardly the only one in green and white not to live up to Izzo's expectations.

And that's becoming an upsetting season-long theme for a program that annually challenges not just for conference championships but for a national championship.

This was the sixth loss of the season for Izzo's crew and the second that's come in somewhat embarrassing fashion. Non-conference losses to Arizona, Kentucky, Baylor and Duke could be excused due to the quality of the competition. But this loss to Penn State feels a little more like the defeat at the hands of Northeastern than it does other of those aforementioned losses.

This doesn't yet seem like your typical Izzo team, and while there's still time to iron these issues out, questions of effort and readiness with a young roster might linger long enough to yield a far less rosier than usual outlook for Michigan State come March.

Wisconsin loses for third time in four games as Ohio State stages upset

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AP

Wisconsin loses for third time in four games as Ohio State stages upset

Two weeks ago, we were all shocked to see Wisconsin boxed out of the NCAA selection committee's top 16 seeds.

Well, it seems like maybe they knew something we didn't.

The Badgers, who not long ago looked like the Big Ten's best hope when it came to making a long tourney run and competing for a national championship, continued their recent slide Thursday night with a 83-73 loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes, who entered with the second-worst record in the conference.

The loss was Wisconsin's third in its last four games, a noteworthy skid for a team that lost just once between Thanksgiving and Feb. 11.

The woes of back-to-back losses to Northwestern and Michigan seemed done away with when the Badgers knocked off a ranked group of Maryland Terrapins by double digits last weekend. But Ohio State dominated Wisconsin from start to finish Thursday, the Badgers' defense taking an uncharacteristic beating at the hands of what's been an inconsistent Buckeyes team this season.

Thad Matta's group had little trouble doing everything it wanted. Ohio State shot 50 percent from the field on the night, including a stellar 10-for-16 mark from 3-point range and a terrific 23-for-27 effort from the free-throw line. Four Buckeyes scored in double figures, including C.J. Jackson with 18 points and JaQuan Lyle, who had 17 on the game and was a perfect 10-for-10 from the free-throw line.

While the Badgers surpassed the 70-point threshold they couldn't reach in those defeats against Northwestern and Michigan, the offense left a lot to be desired Thursday, as well. Wisconsin got 27 points from Bronson Koenig but a mere four from Ethan Happ, who only had six rebounds, and just seven from Nigel Hayes. The Badgers shot a respectable enough 43.9 percent from the field on the game but an ugly 37.5 percent in the first half, a period in which they mustered just 31 points. The Buckeyes at one point had a lead as big as 20. An 8-0 Badger run to close the game prevented the scoreboard from reflecting the blowout this one was for most of the second half.

A win would've kept Wisconsin tied with Purdue atop the Big Ten standings, but instead the Boilermakers reside there by themselves with the Badgers relegated to second place, just a game ahead of the aforementioned Terps.

What happens next for Wisconsin remains a bit of a mystery. There are undoubtedly offensive issues, and those are nothing new considering we were discussing them back when the Badgers were still on their winning streak, when they picked up concerning overtime wins against Minnesota, Rutgers and Nebraska. Wisconsin needs to be sharp on the defensive end to win, and obviously it has been more often than not this season. After all, Greg Gard's team still has 22 wins overall and 11 victories in league play.

But three losses in four games is a reason to think a lengthy tournament run might not be possible. And how long might this stumble last? Three remaining regular-season games feature opponents much stronger than Ohio State: Michigan State, Iowa and Minnesota, which is red hot currently on a six-game winning streak.

Big Ten Talk Podcast: Northwestern stumbling, Illinois trending up and the last week and a half of the Big Ten regular season

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USA TODAY

Big Ten Talk Podcast: Northwestern stumbling, Illinois trending up and the last week and a half of the Big Ten regular season

In the latest episode of the Big Ten Talk Podcast, CSN's Vinnie Duber and Matt Maniscalco discuss Illinois' win over Northwestern, the improved play of the Illini and the offensive struggles of the Wildcats.

Plus, a look at the hottest and coldest teams in the Big Ten — looking at you, Minnesota and Indiana — and a round of fact or fiction featuring coaches on the hot seat, NCAA tournament hopes and who will win the Big Ten regular-season title.

Take a listen below.