Michigan State hunting resume-building upset at No. 2 Purdue

Michigan State’s streak of 25 straight NCAA Tournament appearances is the third-longest in history. Coming off two home losses, the Spartans are no longer a sure bet to extend it.

A victory against No. 2 Purdue (25-3, 14-3 Big Ten) in West Lafayette, Ind., on Saturday night would certainly enhance their resume.

The Spartans (17-11, 9-8) are still projected by bracketology experts to get an at-large bid but back-to-back losses to Iowa and Ohio State have made them vulnerable.

Michigan State squandered a double-digit lead in the last 10 minutes against the Buckeyes on Sunday. Dale Bonner hit a contested 3-pointer in the final second to stun the home crowd.

“I would say this one stings about as much as any loss I’ve had in eight or 10 years,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “I just felt like we practiced well enough to really play well. I didn’t care who they had, I was more worried about us than them.”

It’s been that type of season for the Spartans, who were ranked in the preseason top 10. Prior to those home defeats, they had strung together three straight victories. They’ll be looking to avoid their first three-game slide but that will be an imposing task.

And no one is more imposing than Purdue center Zach Edey, who is poised to be the National Player of the Year once again.

Edey tied his season high with 35 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in the Boilermakers’ 84-76 road win over Michigan on Sunday.

“I’m used to getting doubled as soon as I catch it, as soon as I dribble, but they wanted to play me one-on-one,” he said. “My teammates recognized that and got me the ball a lot.”

Edey is averaging 23.7 points and 11.8 rebounds. He averaged 35 points and 15 rebounds in two wins over the Spartans last season.

“We’re gonna bring all of our centers down there, stack them on top of each other and try to defend him,” Izzo said with a smile. “It’ll be by committee. We’ll be sending guys in every three or four minutes.”

Izzo has taken a lot of heat since the Ohio State game for his handling of prized freshman Xavier Booker. After giving Booker his first start this season, Booker sat the final 15-plus minutes. He had seven points, two rebounds and three blocks in 17 minutes.

“I appreciate all the armchair people. I really do. Including you guys. But there’s a reason,” Izzo said. “I mean, I didn’t forget how to coach, contrary to what most of our alums probably feel right now. And I’m gonna do the same thing I always did. But I tell you this: In not one ounce of a night do I worry about how I’ve dealt with Booker.”

Purdue has won 11 of its last 12 games, with the lone blip a 73-69 loss at Ohio State. The Boilermakers can clinch at least a share of the Big Ten regular season title on Saturday.