Is Michigan State Fucked?
MSU has sputtered to a 5-4 start, however in many ways this is no different than past MSU seasons where they struggle early with a tough schedule. MSU has 4 losses to quality teams and none of these games were at home. They lost in the final seconds against AZ, and vs top 10 teams Kentucky, Baylor, and @Duke in games where they were ahead or competitive through half time. I'm not sure you would call any of them good losses, but they weren't embarrassing either. MSU also has some decent wins against St Johns, Wichita St, and Florida Gulf Coast (albeit in controversial fashion).
Throw in a 50 point blowout against MVST and MSU doesn't look so bad, until we get to Oral Roberts. MSU beat OR at home 80-76 in a game that was in doubt right until the end. OR is not good at 1-7. They have posted some respectable losses vs power conferences, but they also have 20+ point blowout losses to Loyola (Chi), Montana, and Oakland. Worse yet, after years of rebounding dominance, MSU was outrebounded in this game 38-37. Bridges didn't play in this game due to injury, but he will return. The same probably can't be said for Shilling or Carter, neither of whom may play this season. Against OR, MSU's tallest starter was Goins at 6'6".
The bright side of the OR game was the other freshman who all played over 20 minutes and all had career highs in points. Ward was the go to guy and responded with career highs in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals. Bridges will be back, and if these 3 can continue to play well, MSU can get a lot better. MSU is very young with 7 freshman and sophomores in the 11 man rotation so there is lots of room for growth. There's also a possibility Shilling joins the team sometime late, infusing some rebounding and toughness.
Most of the time when you look at a team's schedule for "key stretches" you are looking for a bunch of tough games together where a team can show what they are made of. In MSU's case I would argue the key stretch for them is now. They have 4 non-conference games at home followed by 5 winnable B1G games (home and home vs. Minn sandwiched around home games vs Rutgers, NW, and PSU). 9-0 and MSU can breath a bit easier. 6-3 and MSU is probably out of the tournament.
Unfortunately I think MSU gets things straightened out, but I'll be rooting against them all the way. What say you Torvik?