Feb. 26, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State clinched at least a share of its 13th Big Ten regular-season championship Sunday afternoon when Wisconsin won at Ohio State. The Spartans stand at 13-3, two games ahead of Ohio State and Michigan, with two games left in the regular season. MSU closes out the year at Indiana Tuesday and hosts Ohio State on Sunday.
This is the seventh regular-season Big Ten Championship for head coach Tom Izzo. Only Indiana's Bob Knight (11), Purdue's Ward Lambert (11), Ohio State's Fred Taylor (9) and Wisconsin's Walter Meanwell (8) have won more. Prior to this season, Izzo led MSU to titles in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2009 and 2010, winning the title outright in 1999 and 2009.
Reaction from MSU head coach Tom Izzo
"It's kind of weird when you are at a practice and you find out that you've at least shared part of a Big Ten Championship because we cherish those. And you're right, every year that is a goal of ours - now it's a goal no matter how good we are. I would admit that this year it wasn't the first goal because we thought getting better every day was needed to even have a chance at a Big Ten Championship. And then when we got where we're in the hunt, we reassessed our goals and started moving forward. Now that part of it is there, the ultimate goal of any basketball, football team is to win an outright Big Ten Championship. So I won't lie - we're excited and proud of what's been accomplished so far, but it's miniscule compared to what we have a chance to accomplish down the road. And we're going to keep working for our ultimate goals, which as we reassess, are now to win the Big Ten outright, to be playing our best basketball at the end of the year, to go into the Big Ten Tournament feeling good about ourselves, to try to get the highest seed we can get which will help us in the NCAA Tournament. So because of that I can't really talk much about this because it's just one small part that at the end of the year will become a major part no matter what ends up happening. But for right now it's just one more mile marker on our trip to the ultimate goal.
"DayDay and Austin are even more important now. We knew going into this (upcoming week) that we could play awfully good and come back 0-2. That's just the way it is in the Big Ten as we've learned so vividly in the last couple of days. It' pretty exciting the opportunity we have and all I said is `guys, let's keep our eyes on the prize.' The prize has been reassessed and re-evaluated and we've kind of upped it a little bit. And that's a good thing, that's not a bad thing. I am going to rely on Draymond and Austin, rely on my staff and I'm going to talk about this tonight and then I'm going to focus in on the job we have and probably not talk about it again until the banquet."