It wasn't easy to come up with an answer.
Freshmen Gary Harris and Denzel Valentine scored 12 points apiece, and Branden Dawson added 10 to lead the Spartans to a 64-53 win over the Falcons.
The Falcons tied it at 45 with 10 minutes left and the home crowd was going wild before Michigan State (10-2) clamped down the rest of the way. Bowling Green had just one field goal over the final 10 minutes and had a six-minute stretch with just two points.
Chauncey Orr, the coach's son who had a career-high 16 points, missed the final 10 minutes with cramps. He went to the locker room twice to get treatment.
The Falcons couldn't do anything offensively without him.
"We were right there," said Louis Orr, who gave credit to Michigan State's defense. "That's tough to overcome."
But it was a breakout game for his son.
"It was great to see him playing with that kind of confidence," his father said.
The Spartans went on a 14-2 run highlighted by Dawson's dunk after a steal, drawing a big cheer from the many Michigan State fans filling the Bowling Green arena.
"If we're going to be a good team, we have to come here and win this game," said Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, who credited his defense for wearing down Bowling Green (5-5).
It was Michigan State's first time back in Bowling Green since 1990 when they were ranked fifth and lost to the Falcons. Former Michigan State coach Jud Heathcote vowed they'd never return. Izzo was an assistant on that team.
Few Big Ten teams have been willing to go on the road against Mid-American Conference teams, though most are nearby. Bowling Green has been a giant killer at home over the years, beating three of four Big Ten teams that had visited in the last 22 years prior to Tuesday.
The Spartans held Bowling Green to 33 percent shooting from the field (19-of-58), and shut down Bowling Green's top scorer, holding Jordon Crawford to 10 points—six below his average.
A'uston Calhoun, who also came into the game averaging 16 points for the Falcons, was limited to nine. Calhoun's bucket on the Falcons' first possession gave him 1,000 points for his career, the 40th player in Bowling Green history to reach that mark.
"I thought tonight was our chance," Calhoun said. "We fell short by 10 minutes."