Trailing by eight points to Iowa in the second half of its opening game in the Big Ten tournament, Michigan State's season was on the brink, and the Spartans' 13-year NCAA tournament streak was on the verge of coming to a close. After a regular season filled with turmoil, it looked like head coach Tom Izzo's worst fear was going to be realized -- the Spartans playing in the NIT after being ranked second overall in the preseason.
MSU turned it around, however, and went on a 14-2 run en route to a 66-61 victory. The win proved to be huge, as the Spartans are back in the NCAA tournament for the 14th straight year.
The Spartans did not take an easy road to the NCAA tournament, but all that matters is they're in the field of 68 teams. After a rough stretch from mid-January to mid-February in which they lost six of eight games, the NIT looked more and more likely. However, a decent finish to the season got them back in the Big Dance, where Izzo has been known to work his magic. Perhaps this season he was saving it all up for the NCAA tournament.
Record: 18-14, 11-10
Key wins: Nov. 24 vs. Washington (76-71) at Maui Invitational, Dec. 11 vs. Oakland (77-76) at Palace of Auburn Hills, and Jan. 11 vs. Wisconsin (64-61 in OT).
Key losses: There were many to choose from, but Feb. 2 at Iowa (72-52) stands as the worst.
Need a printable NCAA bracket to fill out for the tournament? Download SB Nation's March Madness Bracket.