MSU men's, women's basketball teams postpone upcoming games amid positive COVID tests

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

Michigan State’s game scheduled for Thursday night at Iowa has been postponed because of three recent positive COVID-19 tests within the Spartans’ program.

The announcement came Wednesday night, just hours after Michigan State coach Tom Izzo revealed that freshman forward Mady Sissoko and sophomore guard Steven Izzo had tested positive for the coronavirus. In a statement released Wednesday night announcing the postponement, the team revealed a third positive test came back Wednesday afternoon.

Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo, left, huddles with players Rocket Watts, Gabe Brown and Aaron Henry.

“I’m really disappointed, but it just goes to prove that this can affect anyone,” Izzo said in a statement Head Coach Tom Izzo said.  “I feel so comfortable that me, my son and my players did everything possible and followed every protocol as best we could.  I’m really, really impressed with the way they have conducted themselves. This virus does not discriminate and I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to wear a mask, wash your hands and follow protocols.”

Just as the men’s program was announcing its postponement, the Michigan State women’s team announced its game against Illinois scheduled for Thursday had also been postponed because of COVID issues in the Spartans’ program. No decision has been made on games beyond Thursday, according to a statement from the team.

With the men’s team, Izzo said the positive tests for Sissoko and Steven Izzo came “four days ago,” which means the players tested positive on Saturday, a day after Michigan State lost at home to Purdue, 55-54. The team tested each day since then, including Wednesday morning. Those results came in later Wednesday before the team was scheduled to depart for Iowa and revealed another positive test, leading to the postponement.

This is the first time this season Michigan State has had to postpone a game because of its own COVID issues. The Spartans’ matchup with Virginia in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in December was postponed because of issues in the Cavaliers program.

Thursday’s game has not been rescheduled. Michigan State is scheduled to play again on Sunday when it hosts Indiana but doesn’t play again after Sunday until Jan. 23.

Asked Wednesday if there was a chance the game could be called off, Izzo admitted it was possible.

“I imagine there is a chance of that, and I would completely understand,” said Izzo, who contracted the virus in early November and was away from the team until just days before the season began. “I mean, I don't think any of us really know what's going on. I think we're just trying to trust the process and the protocol the best we can. But if that happened. I would totally understand.”

The Big Ten has had its issues already this season as Penn State has had four games postponed because of COVID-19. Earlier on Wednesday, the conference announced the rescheduling of two of the Nittany Lions’ home games against Rutgers and Wisconsin. When the conference released its schedule in November, it did its best to provide flexibility with the potential of needing to reschedule games. It built in two sets of collapsible byes during the weeks of Jan. 18-21 and Jan. 25-28, and the weeks of Feb. 22-25 and March 1-5.

Twitter: @mattcharboneau