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2011 Big Ten Tournament: Michigan State Plays Iowa To Keep Their Tournament Hopes Alive

If you look at the current Bracket Projections, Michigan State is one of the very last teams in, possibly playing the opening round in Dayton. This is a very precarious position for the once very highly ranked Spartans, and may not be able to afford losing to a No. 10 seeded Iowa team that has already beaten them by 20 this season.

Knowledgeable  people have argued that Tom Izzo's team needs not only to beat the Hawkeyes, but also probably beat Purdue on Friday to feel really confident about making the field of 68 as an at large. It would be strange indeed to have a March Madness without Michigan State, who have made two straight Final Fours, and a sad way for the careers of Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers to end.

Iowa by contrast is a young team that is hoping to build for the future, and to build off of their program defining win against No.9 Purdue in Iowa City last week. Fran McCaffrey has done a lot with the Hawkeyes in his first year on the job, and with the NCAA Tournament almost completely out of reach, making some noise in the Big Ten Tournament  would be a great alternative.

The Hawkeyes are led by junior guard Matt Gatens, who is averaging nearly 13 points per game, and stand out freshman forward Melsahn Basabe, who is averaging 11 points and nearly 7 rebounds per game this season. In the blowout win over Michigan State earlier this season, junior guard Bryce Cartwright scored 12 points and pulled down 10 boards.

It will be a very interesting match up to be sure, as one program seems to be on the upswing, while another may be taking a step back after several years of dominance.