Michigan State's postseason chances may be as unpredictable as any in recent memory, but the formula it needs to be successful this year is the same as the day Tom Izzo took over as head coach.

Defense begets rebounding. Rebounding begets the break.

Despite a tough 69-67 loss on the road against Ohio State this past Sunday, the No. 22 Spartans (23-8, 12-5) had a stretch where that quintessential style of Michigan State basketball dominated the Buckeyes.

What the Spartans did during that 12-0 run in Columbus must be bottled, harnessed and unleashed this weekend in the Big Ten tournament if they plan to cut down the nets on Sunday in Indianapolis.

"There is no doubt in my mind that that was the norm when we were running early and it was because of our break," Izzo said. "It was because they were pressing us and we were going through it like butter.

"That is who I think we are, but you can't be who you are for minutes, you've got to do it for a lot of minutes."

The 12-0 run against the Buckeyes -- which took MSU from a 44-39 deficit to a 51-44 lead last weekend -- lasted a total of 2:23. It began with a 3-pointer by sophomore guard Gary Harris and was built around a 4-0 advantage for Michigan State on the boards.

Three defensive rebounds off three Ohio State misses led to points in transition and one steal led to the rarely-seen Travis Trice dunk in transition. The Spartans shot 4-of-5 during the run. But the stellar offense was rooted in stellar defense, which led to rebounds and created the high-probability shots.

The reemergence of the break, although only executed in stretches over the past week, began with the return of junior Branden Dawson. While Izzo's point guards must push the ball in transition for the system to click, it cannot exist without the initial defense and rebounding -- something Dawson specializes in and something Michigan State was missing while he was sidelined with a broken hand for all of February.

In the first 19 games of the season -- with a healthy Dawson at its disposal -- Michigan State averaged 17 fast-break points per game and went 18-1.

In the nine games that Dawson was absent, the Spartans averaged 8.7 fast-break points per game and went 4-5.

They had 18 against Ohio State.

"(Dawson) plays 19 minutes (against Ohio State) and gets six rebounds or something," Izzo said. "He can rebound by accident. Those are needed and those lead to our fast break."