What we learned from Iowa’s 71-69 loss to Michigan State on Tuesday:
-- The Hawkeyes are not going to win the Big Ten title. Hopefully, most people weren’t banking on that anyhow but it really isn’t going to happen now. They are a full three games behind Michigan and two games behind Michigan State in the standings and have lost to both teams. And they still have to go to East Lansing later in the season.
-- Iowa just wasn’t tough enough to beat Michigan State on Tuesday. Fran McCaffery said it. Aaron White said it. They’ll get no argument here. The Hawkeyes had plenty of chances to put the shorthanded Spartans away and never came close to doing it.
-- Michigan State is tough enough to beat anybody. The determination shown by part-time guys like Matt Costello, Travis Trice and Russell Byrd was impressive, and Keith Appling and Denzel Valentine are flat-out gamers. There might be a few more physically gifted teams out there but very few with that sort of grit. When they get Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson back, it’s hard to imagine too many teams hanging with them.
-- It is possible for players to be too hyped up. Although Fran McCaffery denied that was the case Tuesday, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo hinted that he thought the Hawkeyes might have been more adversely impacted by a wild-eyed home crowd than the visiting Spartans. It may not have been a huge factor, but it probably contributed to a very close loss.
-- The Iowa home crowd is back. As Izzo noted, it reminded him of what Carver-Hawkeye Arena was like during the Tom Davis era. The Hawkeyes have had other sellouts this season but nothing like the deafening environment of Tuesday night. If it’s like this for every game the rest of the way, the Hawkeyes shouldn’t lose many at home. Very few teams are going to stand up to it the way Michigan State did.