Spartans Earn NCAA Bid For 14th Straight Year
March 13, 2011
Michigan State has earned an NCAA bid for the 14th straight year and was named a No. 10 seed in the Southeast Region. The Spartans (19-14) will face seventh-seeded UCLA (22-10) Thursday, March 17 in Tampa, Fla.
Florida earned a No. 2 seed in the Southeast Region and will play No. 15 seed UCSB.
Michigan State's streak of 14 straight NCAA Tournament appearances is the longest current streak among Big Ten schools and third longest in the nation (Kansas, 22; Duke, 16). It also marks the second-longest streak in Big Ten history (Indiana, 18 consecutive tournaments between 1986-2003).
EAST LANSING, Mich. - (AP) The Michigan State Spartans had to sweat it out on Selection Sunday.
"We were nervous," senior guard Kalin Lucas acknowledged.
Michigan State coaches and players gathered in a lounge just outside their locker room, fidgeting while most of the 68-team field was announced before finally finding out they had been seeded 10th and matched against seventh-seeded UCLA in the Southeast region.
The Spartans will play the Bruins on Thursday in Tampa, Fla.
"I feel fortunate to be in," coach Tom Izzo said. "But if you look at the whole body of work, we probably deserve to be in."
Michigan State played one of the toughest schedules and won 19 games. Its last victory, over Purdue in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals on Friday, might have sealed a spot in the NCAA tournament.
"I wasn't as nervous today as I have been the past month," Izzo said.
If the Spartans beat UCLA, second-seeded Florida will likely be their second-round opponent.
As disappointing as Michigan State has been this season, it is tough to count out an Izzo-led team in March.
Izzo's winning percentage in the NCAA tournament is .745 -- only Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams have fared better -- and he has led Michigan State to the Final Four the last two years and to six of the previous 12, winning the national championship in 2000.
"This is where experience does help you," he said. "And it really helps you if you can win the first game."
"We know our best players have to play their best to do what we want to do," Lucas said. "That's our plan."
As relieved as Izzo was to get back into college basketball's showcase, he's not satisfied.
"I don't think there's any pressure off us because I still think expectations are high," he said. "The relief of getting in is only for the streak."
Michigan State started the season ranked No. 2, but a series of setbacks put the program on the bubble over the last month.
The Spartans, though, did enough to extend their streak of NCAA tournament appearances to 14. Just Kansas, with 22, and Duke, with 16, have longer active streaks.
"That speaks volumes when you think about the big picture," Izzo said.
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