Never count out Michigan State.

The Spartans’ hopes of reaching the NCAA tournament looked pretty bleak just a week ago after a 75-65 loss to Purdue, dropping Tom Izzo’s bunch to 10-9 on the season and just 4-9 in conference play. But Tuesday night’s 81-72 upset victory over No. 5 Illinois brings new life to East Lansing.

Aaron Henry scored 20 points while Joshua Langford recorded a double-double with 13 points and 16 rebounds, leading the Spartans to a gigantic home victory at the Breslin Center. Rocket Watts also scored 15 points and Joey Hauser pitched in with 13 off the bench.

Michigan State has now won back-to-back games against Indiana and Illinois with plenty of opportunities for more statement wins ahead. The Spartans still have No. 4 Ohio State, Maryland and back-to-back games against No. 3 Michigan on the schedule.

If MSU is able to collect a few more big wins over the next two weeks, it will work itself back into the NCAA tournament conversation with the B1G Tournament ahead.

Tuesday night’s game was the first of six contests Izzo’s squad is scheduled to play in the next 13 days, making up for a 20-day pause that occurred in the middle of the season due to COVID-19. Though the Spartans dug themselves quite a hole to even reach the tournament, they still have an opportunity to make the field.

We should’ve known not to scratch the Spartans from the field just yet.