"There's some of me that doesn't see him playing for two weeks," Izzo said. "If it gets into that next week, I mean, a win against Georgetown is as important as a lot of wins, but it's not as important as a Big Ten win."
Payne, who is averaging 16.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game for the Spartans, is expected to be out of the lineup for a fourth consecutive game Tuesday against Indiana.
After that, Izzo said the standout senior is "a question mark" for Saturday's home game against No. 21 Michigan and a game against Georgetown on Feb. 1 in New York.
Payne isn't the only key player who has been out or limited because of injuries this season for the Spartans.
Leading scorer Gary Harris has been slowed by a sprained right ankle. Travis Trice, usually a top reserve, missed a game because he was sick. Starting center Matt Costello had to sit out of four games because of mononucleosis.
Despite the slew of health-related setbacks, the Spartans have won 10 in a row since losing to North Carolina.
"I'm proud of my team for it," Izzo said. "I think we've battled through things. It's been a fist-fight effort. It's been hard on everybody."
If the banged-up team can get and stay healthy, Izzo likes its chances to cut down the nets April 7 in Texas.
"I made no bones about it at the beginning of the year that this is one of those teams that I think has a legitimate shot," Izzo said. "And, I think that we've proven that we do. We could lose three games in a row and still prove that we do."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.