Michigan State played a powerhouse schedule in the season's first month, but don't try convincing coach Tom Izzo that is the sole reason the Spartans find themselves scuffling as they prepare to begin Big Ten action.
No. 11 Michigan State tips off conference play at Sunday at home against Rutgers, desperately looking to build some sort of momentum after getting thoroughly dominated Tuesday at home against No. 10 Duke.
That loss came on the heels of a trip to Maui that included an unexpected loss to Virginia Tech, and the season began with a defeat against then-No. 2 Kentucky in New York. At 5-3 entering conference play, Michigan State doesn't look like the preseason No. 1 team in the nation that it was.