No matter which way you spin it, the loss to Ohio State in the regular-season finale hurts. The Spartans blew a sizeable 15-point lead at home in East Lansing to create a three-way Big Ten champion, that title shared with the Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines and in the process, hurts MSU's chances at securing a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. That hurts. What may hurt even more is the loss of freshman forward Branden Dawson to a torn ACL.
Dawson, a late-first NBA Draft prospect based on his superior athleticism and potential, did not need sets run for him, but he was able to create for himself taking the ball off the dribble, putting back offensive rebounds, and on occasion, knocking down mid-range jumpers. Just a first-year wing, Dawson was greatly improved since the season began and was a key piece in the Spartans rise to the top of the Big Ten; he ranked third on the team in scoring and was second in rebounding. His loss in the lineup means guards Austin Thornton and Brandon Wood should be seeing more time and Michigan State may have to do a fair amount of fighting to remain a No. 2 seed in our opinion.