Michigan State Opens NCAA Tournament vs. Miami
Michigan State is making its 20th-straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
| No. 9 Michigan State (19-14, 10-8 Big Ten) vs No. 8 Miami (21-11, 10-8 ACC)
|Date||Friday, March 17, 2017|
|Time||(9:20 p.m. ET)|
|Location||Tulsa, Oklahoma | BOK Center|
|Television||TNT - Kevin Harlan (Play by Play), Reggie Miller and Dan Bonner (Analysts) and Dana Jacobson (Reporter)|
|Radio||Spartan Sports Network (Will Tieman and Matt Steigenga)|
|Game Notes||Michigan State | Miami|
|Statistics||Michigan State | Miami|
|Social Media||@MSU_Basketball | Facebook | Instagram|
The Opening Tip
Michigan State is making its 20th straight trip to the NCAA Tournament under Coach Tom Izzo, marking the nation’s third longest active streak. The Spartans are the No. 9 seed in the Midwest Region and will open against No. 8 Miami. This is the 31st NCAA Tournament appearance all-time for MSU.
The Starting Five
1. MSU’s NCAA Streak
Michigan State is making its 20th-straight NCAA Tournament appearance in 2017. It is the longest current streak among Big Ten schools and third-longest current streak in the nation. Only Kansas (28) and Duke (22) have longer current streaks. In fact, it is the fourth-longest streak of all-time, and the longest in Big Ten history. North Carolina appeared in 27-consecutive NCAA Tournaments between 1975-2001.
2. MSU In The NCAA Tournament
Michigan State is making its 31st appearance in the NCAA Tournament with a record of 63-29 (.685) in its previous 30 tournaments. MSU has made nine trips to the Final Four (1957, 1979, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2015) and captured the NCAA Championship in 1979 and 2000.
3. Izzo’s NCAA Streak
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo is making his 20th-straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. It’s the second-longest active streak in the nation, trailing only Mike Krzyzewski, who is making his 22nd straight trip this season. The 20-year streak is the longest in Big Ten history by a head coach and tied for the third longest in NCAA history. Only Dean Smith (North Carolina, 23-1975-97) and Krzyzewski (22) have longer streaks, while Izzo is tied with Roy Williams (Kansas/North Carolina, 20-1990-2009). Izzo’s 20 tournament appearances rank him tied with Adolph Rupp (Kentucky) and John Thompson (Georgetown) for 12th-most all-time.
4. MSU In Opening Games
In its 30 NCAA Tournaments, Michigan State has a record of 23-7 in its first game of the tournament. Since the field expanded in 1985, the Spartans are 19-7 in the round of 64. Tom Izzo is 14-5 in the round of 64.
5. One Of The Nation’s Best Freshmen
Miles Bridges was named to the Sporting News’ Freshman All-America team. He also captured Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors from both the media and coaches, becoming the second Spartan to win the award since it was first presented in 1986, joining Gary Harris (2013). Bridges led all conference freshmen in both scoring (16.6 ppg) and rebounding (8.1 rpg) in Big Ten contests. He earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors a conference-best five times this season. Bridges also earned a spot on the All-Big Ten Second Team, joining Harris and Shawn Respert (1992) as the only Spartan freshmen to earn all-conference honors since Magic Johnson in 1978. He also earned a spot on the USBWA All-District V team.
MSU NCAA Tournament Notes
MSU In The Midwest
This year marks the 11th time the Spartans have been placed in the Midwest Region, including the seventh time under Tom Izzo. In 1999, 2000, 2009 and 2010, the Spartans advanced to the Final Four from the Midwest.
Spartan Opponents In NCAA Tournament
Twelve Michigan State opponents are in the field of 68 for the 2017 NCAA Tournament, including six Big Ten foes (No. 4 seed Purdue, No. 5 Minnesota, No. 6 Maryland, No. 7 Michigan, No. 8 Northwestern, and No. 8 Wisconsin) and six non-conference opponents (No. 2 seed Arizona, No. 2 Duke, No. 2 Kentucky, No. 3 Baylor, No. 10 Wichita State, and No. 14 Florida Gulf Coast). The Spartans are a combined 7-9 against the 12 teams, playing 16 of 33 games against tournament teams.
Big Ten Conference In The NCAA Tournament
For the second straight season, the Big Ten Conference has seven of its 14 schools in the 2017 NCAA Tournament. Joining the Spartans are No. 4 Purdue, No. 5 Minnesota, No. 6 Maryland, No. 7 Michigan, No. 8 Wisconsin, and No. 8 Northwestern.
Michigan State ranks seventh among all schools in NCAA Tournament winning percentage for teams with at least 20 tournament games. MSU’s .685 winning percentage (63-29) trails only Duke (.754, 107-35), UCLA (.723, 99-38), Florida (.722, 39-15), North Carolina (.722, 117-45), Kentucky (.712, 121-49) and Kansas (.694, 100-44).
NCAA Tournament Victories
Michigan State ranks eighth overall and second among Big Ten schools with 63 NCAA Tournament victories. Only Kentucky (121), North Carolina (117), Duke (107), Kansas (100), UCLA (99), Louisville (75) and Indiana (66) have more tournament wins. Coach Tom Izzo has recorded 46 of MSU’s 63 wins.
At His Best When It Counts
Tom Izzo ranks fifth among active coaches for the best NCAA Tournament winning percentage at .719 (46-18). Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski ranks first at .769 (90-27), followed by Louisville’s Rick Pitino (.747, 53-18), North Carolina’s Roy Williams (.740, 70-24) and Kentucky’s John Calipari (.736, 39-14). Of those five, Izzo and Krzyzewski are the only coaches to appear in the last 20 NCAA Tournaments. In NCAA Tournament wins, Izzo (46) is tied with Lute Olson (Iowa/Arizona) for eighth all-time (fifth among active coaches), trailing just Krzyzewski (90), Williams (70), North Carolina’s Dean Smith (65), Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim (54), Pitino (53), UConn’s Jim Calhoun (49) and UCLA’s John Wooden (47).
Izzo With The Lower Seeded Spartans
Tom Izzo is 13-10 in the NCAA Tournament when Michigan State is the lower-seeded team. The 13 wins are the most all-time in NCAA Tournament history.
Izzo In The Final Four
Tom Izzo ranks tied for fifth all-time and tied for third among active coaches with seven Final Four appearances. Currently tied with Louisville’s Rick Pitino, Izzo trails just Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (12), UCLA’s John Wooden (12), North Carolina’s Dean Smith (11), and North Carolina’s Roy Williams (8). Since Izzo’s first season in 1995-96, his seven Final Four trips are the most in the nation, ranking just ahead of Williams (6) and Kentucky’s John Calipari (6).
MSU In The Round Of 32
Since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, Michigan State has advanced to the round of 32 19 times. MSU has a 15-4 record in round of 32 games since 1985, including 13-1 under Tom Izzo.
Quick Turnaround Success
Michigan State’s deep NCAA Tournament runs can be attributed to its success with quick turnarounds. Under Tom Izzo, the Spartans are a remarkable 21-4 in the second game of an NCAA Tournament weekend. All four losses have all come to No. 1 seeds or eventual National Champions.
Two Titles Not Too Shabby
Michigan State is one of just 15 schools to have won two or more NCAA Championships. Cincinnati, Florida, North Carolina State, Oklahoma State, San Francisco and Villanova join MSU with two titles. Only UCLA (11), Kentucky (8), Duke (5), Indiana (5), North Carolina (5), Connecticut (4), Kansas (3) and Louisville (3) have won more titles.
Nation’s Best Seven Final Fours in 18 Years
Michigan State advanced to the 2015 Final Four, marking the seventh trip to the Final Four under Tom Izzo. The seven trips since 1999 are the most in the nation during that period.
Izzo In Tulsa
Tom Izzo arrived at Michigan State prior to the 1983-84 season and has been on the Spartan sideline for every season since then. He did, however, have a seven-week stint at the University of Tulsa in May and June 1986. He left a restricted-earnings position at MSU to take a job as the recruiting coordinator at Tulsa, but when Spartan assistant Mike Deane left to become head coach at Siena College, he returned to MSU.
MSU vs. Miami Notes
Miami (21-11) is making its ninth NCAA Tournament appearance overall and first in consecutive years since reaching the tournament a school-record three straight seasons from 1998-2000. The Hurricanes tied for seventh in the ACC with a 10-8 league mark. They reached the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament with a second-round victory over Syracuse before falling to top-seeded North Carolina.
Friday’s game will mark the second-ever meeting between Michigan State and Miami. The Hurricanes defeated the Spartans, 67-59, on Nov. 28, 2012, in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in Miami.
Jim Larrañaga (Providence, ’71) is 609-402 in his 33rd season as a collegiate head coach, including 139-68 in his sixth season at Miami. Larrañaga is making his eighth trip to the NCAA Tournament overall and his third with Miami (2013, 2016, 2017); he owns an NCAA Tournament record of 9-7 (4-2 at Miami). He reached the Final Four in 2006 with George Mason and has advanced to the Sweet 16 three times, including twice at Miami (2013, 2016). Larrañaga led the Hurricanes to their first-ever ACC regular season and tournament championship in 2013, along with a school-record 29 victories, and is the only Miami coach to record three 25-win seasons (2013, 2015, 2016). A two-time ACC Coach of the Year (2013, 2016), Larrañaga has reached the postseason five of his six years at Miami (three NCAA Tournaments, two NIT appearances). His 609 career victories rank 11th most among active NCAA coaches.
Miami Against The Field of 68
Miami played 10 teams in the 2017 NCAA Tournament field, posting a 4-10 record against Duke (1-1), Florida (0-1), Florida State (0-2), Iowa State (0-1), Louisville (0-1), North Carolina (1-1), Notre Dame (0-1), Virginia (1-0), Virginia Tech (1-1) and Wake Forest (0-1).
Michigan State and Miami share two common opponents this season: Duke and Rutgers. The Spartans went 1-1 against the Blue Devils and Scarlet Knights, while the Hurricanes went 2-1 (1-1 vs. Duke, 1-0 vs. Rutgers).
Miami is 8-8 all-time in eight previous trips to the NCAA Tournament. The Hurricanes reached the Sweet 16 last season as a No. 3 seed with wins over No. 14 seed Buffalo and No. 11 seed Wichita State before falling to eventual National Champion and second-seeded Villanova in the South Regional Semifinal. Miami has advanced to three Sweet 16s in school history (2000, 2013, 2016). Three-time captain senior guard Davon Reed, who leads the team in scoring (15.0 ppg), 3-point field goals (77), minutes (35.2) and free-throw percentage (.833), was a third-team All-ACC honoree and was also selected to the ACC All-Defensive Team. Junior captain guard Ja’Quan Newton ranks second on the team in scoring (13.4 ppg) and leads the team in assists (3.4 apg). Fifth-year senior captain forward Kamari Murphy paces the team in rebounding (7.5 avg.) and field-goal percentage (.525) and is fourth in scoring (7.3 ppg). The Hurricanes rank second in the ACC and 24th in the nation in scoring defense (63.7 ppg). Miami defeated three AP Top 25 teams this season, topping No. 9 North Carolina (Jan. 28) and No. 10 Duke (Feb. 25) in Coral Gables, and No. 18 Virginia on the road (Feb. 20).
Spartan Basketball Notes
Bridges Leads The Attack
After missing all seven games in December with a left ankle injury, Miles Bridges has played in the last 18 games, averaging 16.7 points and 8.1 rebounds in 31.4 minutes. He’s been even better over the last 16 games, averaging 18.1 points and 8.3 rebounds, including five double-doubles, scoring 13 points in each of the last 16 contests. He’s earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors three times since his return (and five times total on the season). He earned Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Week Honors from the USBWA and CBS Sports on Jan. 31. Overall, he ranks seventh in the conference in scoring (16.7 ppg), fifth in rebounding (8.3 rpg) and tied for fifth in blocked shots (1.6). He is the first freshman to lead MSU in scoring since Shawn Respert did it as a redshirt freshman in 1991-92. Bridges and UCLA’s TJ Leaf are the only freshmen in the nation to average 16 points and eight rebounds (Source: Sports Reference).
Better At The Foul Line
Through the first 15 games of the season, Michigan State ranked 337th in the nation in free-throw percentage at .612. Since then, the Spartans have made a dramatic improvement. Over the last 18 contests, MSU is shooting .716 at the charity stripe (222-310).
MSU In March
Michigan State is 94-39 (.707) in March since the 1998-99 season. For his career, Tom Izzo is 101-46 (.687) in March. Over the last seven-plus years (2009-present), MSU is 48-19 (.716) in what Coach Izzo calls his favorite month of the year.
Cleaning Up On The Defensive Glass
While Michigan State’s rebounding is not as strong as it usually is, the Spartans still rank fifth in the Big Ten with a +3.6 rebounding margin. Where the Spartans are strong, however, is on the defensive backboard, as MSU grabs 72.7 percent of its opponents’ misses, ranking fourth in the Big Ten. In conference games, Michigan State was even better, ranking second at 73.3 percent.
Too Many Turnovers
After averaging fewer than 12 turnovers in each of the last three seasons, this year’s Spartan squad is averaging 14.2 per contest. MSU is 16-8 when committing 15 or fewer turnovers and 3-6 when committing more. In Big Ten play, MSU averaged 14.3 turnovers (13.3 in victory, 14.8 in defeat). MSU is 7-1 when having fewer turnovers than its opponent, and 11-1 when it has an advantage in points off turnovers.
Spartans On Target
Michigan State ranks fourth in the Big Ten in field-goal percentage (.468) and fourth in 3-point field-goal percentage (.376). In conference games, the Spartans shot .470 from the field and .387 from 3-point range to rank second in the Big Ten in both categories.
Eight healthy Spartans average more than 18 minutes per game, while 10 average more than seven minutes per game (Does not include Eron Harris who is out for the year with a knee injury). Seven different players have led Michigan State in scoring in a single game. The depth has helped MSU’s reserves outscore the opponent’s bench in 26 of 33 contests, as MSU gets 27.5 points per game off the bench. Michigan State has used nine different starting lineups this season. According to KenPom.com, MSU leads the nation with non-starters playing 45.6 percent of the team’s minutes.
Michigan State has held opponents under 40 percent shooting from the field in each of the last five seasons, including finishing second in the nation in field-goal percentage defense in 2012 (.379) and 2016 (.382). The strong defensive effort has carried over to 2016-17, as 16 opponents have been held under 40 percent, as MSU boasts a field-goal percentage defense of .406, including holding Big Ten opponents to a .425 field-goal percentage. In Big Ten victories, the Spartans held opponents to .378, compared to .486 in defeat. MSU has held its opponent under 50 percent shooting in 31 of 33 games this season, failing to do so at Michigan and at Purdue.
Winston Lends A Hand
Freshman point guard Cassius Winston ranks second in the Big Ten with 5.1 assists per contest, and sixth with a 2.3 assist-to-turnover ratio. According to KenPom.com, Winston ranks second in the nation in Assist Rate (assists divided by the field goals made by the player’s teammates while he is on the court) (46.9). With 169 assists on the season, he already ranks second all-time among Spartan freshmen, trailing just Earvin “Magic” Johnson (222). The 2016 Michigan Mr. Basketball winner is fourth on the team in scoring (6.7 ppg) and has scored in double figures in four of the last 12 games, after doing it just three times in his first 21 games.
Michigan State features one of the nation’s youngest rosters. According to KenPom.com, MSU ranks 321st in the nation in experience with an average of 1.14 years. Four of MSU’s top five scorers, and all four of its healthy top scorers (not including Eron Harris) are freshmen. MSU enters the NCAA Tournament with six healthy players who have previous tournament experience, combining for 179 minutes, 18 points, 16 rebounds and 19 assists.
Eron Harris suffered a significant right knee injury against Purdue (Feb. 18) that will require surgery. He became the third Spartan senior to suffer a season-ending knee injury this season. Ben Carter (left knee) and Gavin Schilling (right knee) sustained their injuries prior to the first game of the season. Those three seniors have played in 311 combined games and scored a combined 2,173 points during their collegiate careers.
MSU’s Freshman Class
Michigan State’s freshman class of Miles Bridges, Joshua Langford, Nick Ward and Cassius Winston is the most productive freshman class of the Tom Izzo era, as the quartet averages a combined 43.7 points, 19.0 rebounds and 92.4 minutes, with each one starting at least five contests. Over the last six games, the quartet is averaging a combined 50.9 points, 23.0 rebounds and 97.5 minutes. Against Iowa, they each scored in double figures, marking the first time four Spartan freshmen scored in double figures in the same game under Tom Izzo. Against Nebraska, the quartet combined for a season-high 64 points, as Bridges (20 points) and Ward (20 points) became the first freshman duo to score 20 or more points at MSU since Jay Vincent and Magic Johnson did it on Jan. 5, 1978 against Minnesota. Bridges and Langford were McDonald’s All-Americans, Winston joined Bridges as Jordan Brand All-Americans and all four players were ranked in the Top 40 in the nation. The 2001-02 Spartan freshmen of Alan Anderson, Chris Hill, Kelvin Torbert and Aaron Alexander combined to average 77.4 minutes and 26.5 points, both of which previously ranked first in the Izzo era.
Bridges Makes An Immediate Impact
Miles Bridges is having one of the most productive freshman seasons in Michigan State history. Bridges’ scoring average of 16.7 points per game trails only Magic Johnson’s 17.0 ppg in 1977-78 as the best ever for a Spartan freshman. Only Greg Kelser (9.6 rpg, 1975-76) posted a better rebounding average than Bridges’ current 8.3 average.
Freshman Block Party
Despite standing just 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-7 respectively, freshmen Nick Ward and Miles Bridges are among the best shot blockers in the Big Ten as they are tied for fifth in the Big Ten with 1.6 blocks per contest. Ward ranks third in the Big Ten in total blocks (52), good for the second-best total by a freshman behind only Deyonta Davis’ total of 64 established last season. Despite missing seven games, Bridges ranks third all-time among Spartan freshman with 42 rejections. Against Northeastern, Ward blocked six shots, tying the Spartan freshman single-game record and matching the second most ever by a Spartan in a single game.
The least heralded member of Michigan State’s freshman class, Nick Ward is proving to be an impact player. He ranks second on the team in scoring (13.7 ppg) and second in rebounding (6.5), while ranking fifth in the conference in field-goal percentage overall (.583) and third in conference games (.572). Ward has scored 20 or more points in six games, as MSU is 5-1 in those contests. He’s lost 30-plus pounds since arriving on MSU’s campus in June. His per 40-minute averages of 28.0 points and 13.3 rebounds lead the Spartans among members of the core playing group. He’s scored six or more points in every game this season and has posted double-figure points in 23 of the last 27 games, averaging 14.6 ppg over that same span. In the seven games that Miles Bridges missed, Ward averaged 17.1 points and 8.3 rebounds. He’s a four-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week honoree, earning the accolade on Dec. 5, Dec. 26, Jan. 2 and Feb. 27, while also earning Player of the Week honors on Feb. 27, becoming the only conference freshman to accomplish that feat this season. According to KenPom.com, Ward leads the nation in fouls drawn per 40 minutes (9.1). Ward’s scoring average (13.7) is the fourth-best ever for a Spartan freshman, while his 6.5 rebounding average is fifth best.
Big Ten Freshmen Of The Week
Michigan State captured the Big Ten Freshman of the Week honor nine times in the 17 weeks it was presented. Miles Bridges (Nov. 14, Nov. 28, Jan. 16, Jan. 30, Feb. 20) led the conference with five weekly honors. Nick Ward (Dec. 5, Dec. 26, Jan. 2, Feb. 27) was honored four times, while also earning Player of the Week honors on Feb. 27. Bridges also was honored as the Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Week by the USBWA and CBS Sports on Jan. 30.
Izzo Second In Wins At A Big Ten School
With 543 career wins, Tom Izzo has passed Gene Keady (512 wins) for second-most victories at a Big Ten school, trailing only Bob Knight (661 wins). Izzo is also third all-time with 256 Big Ten wins, trailing just Knight (353 wins) and Keady (265 wins).
Spartans Share The Ball
Unselfishness is a trademark of all Tom Izzo teams. That has been especially true over the last three seasons as MSU has established a school record for assists in each of the last three years. Last season, MSU tallied a school record 719 assists, good for the 22nd-best total in NCAA history. MSU’s nation’s-best assist average of 20.5 was the 23rd-best average in NCAA history. The Spartans recorded an assist on a nation’s-best 71.3 percent of their field goals. This year, the Spartans are averaging 17.0 assists in 2016-17, ranking 13th in the nation, recording an assist on 65.9 percent of their field goals, which is the second-best mark in the nation.
A Senior Steps Up
Senior Alvin Ellis III has played the best basketball of his career as a senior in conference play. In Big Ten play, Ellis averaged 8.6 points and 3.6 rebounds, ranking third on the team in scoring and fourth in rebounding. The Spartans are 4-2 in Big Ten games this season in which he scores in double figures. He scored a career-best 20 points, including two game-winning free throws, in a one-point overtime victory at Minnesota. He followed with a team-best 16 points at Northwestern, adding a career-best eight rebounds. It marked the first time in his career that Ellis has led MSU in scoring, and the first time in his career that he’s scored in double figures in back-to-back contests. Ellis led the team in scoring in a win over Ohio State, as he hit a career-best six 3-pointers, five of which came in the first half.
Big Ten Success
Michigan State has won 13 regular-season Big Ten Championships since joining the league prior to the 1950-51 season. The Spartans’ first-ever league game was at Northwestern, where MSU claimed a 67-62 victory on Jan. 6, 1951. All-time, MSU is 614-480 (.561) in league play, including 256-120 (.681) under Tom Izzo, who ranks third in league history with 256 conference wins. Izzo has guided MSU to seven of its 13 league crowns. Since Izzo’s first season (1995-96), MSU has a Big Ten-best record of 256-120, 12 games better than second-place Wisconsin (244-132).
Nairn’s Homecoming Provides A Spark
Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr. ranks second in the Big Ten with a 3.4 assist-to-turnover ratio, while ranking tied for ninth in the conference in assists (3.7). The junior point guard had a very productive homecoming during MSU’s play in the Battle 4 Atlantis. A native of Nassau, Nairn had arguably his best three-game stretch as a Spartan, matching or setting a career high in each game. He tied a career high in points with 13 points vs. St. John’s, and set new career highs in rebounding (6) vs. Baylor and assists (12) vs. Wichita State. He also hit 4-of-6 3-pointers, after entering the tournament with seven threes in his first 71 career games. He matched his career high with 13 points in a comeback win at Minnesota, including 11 in the second half and overtime, while also scoring 13 points vs. Penn State.
It’s All About Boardwork
According to KenPom.com, Michigan State ranks 291st in the nation in average height. As a result, rebounding has not been the staple it normally is for Michigan State. MSU has a +3.6 rebound margin, out-rebounding the opponent in 21 contests. In the Tom Izzo era, MSU has out-rebounded 585 of 762 opponents (.768), posting a 460-125 (.786) mark in those games. The Spartans have led the nation in rebounding in five of the last 17 seasons (2000, 2001, 2009, 2010, 2016), ranking in the Top 10 10 times and the Top 25 on 13 occasions. MSU has led the Big Ten in rebounding margin in conference games in 13 of the last 20 years and in 14 of 22 seasons under Izzo.
From Beyond the Arc
Michigan State is shooting .376 from behind the arc this year, ranking fourth in the Big Ten, as Miles Bridges (.388, 52-134), Eron Harris (.387, 43-111), Alvin Ellis III (.390, 41-105) and Matt McQuaid (.345, 38-110) lead the team in made 3-pointers. Joshua Langford (.413, 12th) ranks among the Big Ten leaders in 3-point field-goal percentage. In Big Ten play, the Spartans shot .387 from 3-point range, ranking second in the conference.
Playing The Best
Since the 1997-98 season, the year of Michigan State’s first of 19 straight trips to the NCAA Tournament, the Spartans have played 213 games against ranked opponents. That total ranks first among teams that have appeared in a Final Four since then. The Spartans are followed by North Carolina (203), Texas (193), Duke (193), Kentucky (182), Illinois (180) and Michigan (179).
Hall of Famer Tom Izzo
Now in his 22nd season at Michigan State, Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo has built the Spartans into one of the elite programs in the nation. MSU is the only school in the country to win 27 or more games in each of the last five seasons. The Spartans’ 19 straight NCAA Tournaments are a Big Ten record, the third-longest active streak in the nation and the fourth-longest active streak of all time. He’s been able to accomplish this while playing more ranked teams than anyone else since 1998. Michigan State has appeared in a nation’s best seven Final Fours in the last 18 seasons. Izzo’s seven Final Four trips are tied for fifth most in NCAA history. Izzo was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame on Sept. 9.
The Nation’s Toughest November
MSU’s game at Duke (11/29) marked the final game in what was arguably the toughest opening month in college basketball history, certainly Spartan history. With games against No. 2 Kentucky, No. 10 Arizona and No. 20 Baylor (rankings at date of game), No. 5 Duke was the fourth ranked opponent MSU played in November alone. The Spartans had never faced three Top 10 opponents in November until this season, and had never played four Top 20 non-conference opponents in a single month during the regular season. Not only did the Spartans play a diabolical slate of opponents, they faced a brutal travel schedule to open the season. Beginning with a flight to Hawaii on November 8 and ending with the return flight from Duke on Nov. 29, the Spartans traveled more than 13,600 miles in 22 days, including additional trips to New York City and the Bahamas. Six opponents from November earned a bid in the 2017 NCAA Tournament, including No. 2 seed Arizona, No. 2 Kentucky, No. 2 Duke, No. 3 Baylor, No. 10 Wichita State and No. 14 Florida Gulf Coast.
Draymond Green was a reserve on the NBA All-Star West team for the second-straight season. The 2012 NABC National Player of the Year is the seventh Spartan to make an All-Star Team, joining Johnny Green, Ralph Simpson (ABA), Magic Johnson, Kevin Willis, Steve Smith and Zach Randolph. Through March 11, Green is averaging 10.2 points, 8.0 rebounds and 7.1 assists for the Golden State Warriors. In a Feb. 10 contest vs. Memphis, Green became the first player in NBA history to record a triple-double while scoring fewer than 10 points. In 2015, Green donated $3.1 million to MSU Athletics, which will be used in the construction of the Draymond Green Strength and Conditioning Center in the ongoing Breslin Center renovations, and towards an endowment for the basketball program.
Izzo Receives Dean Smith Award
As announced by the USBWA in October, Tom Izzo is the recipient of the 2016 Dean Smith Award. The award goes to an individual in college basketball who embodies the spirit and values of the late North Carolina coaching great. Izzo is the second person to receive the Dean Smith Award. The USBWA established the award last year and selected former Georgetown coach John Thompson as the first recipient. Among the qualities in a coach that the award is based on are honesty and integrity, being a part of players’ lives during and after college, abiding by NCAA rules, involvement in charities and the community, standing up for social issues and causes and having a reputation for treating people with respect.
Spartans In The NBA
Michigan State had a Big Ten-best eight players on NBA opening day rosters, including Denzel Valentine (Bulls), Gary Harris (Nuggets), Deyonta Davis (Grizzlies), Bryn Forbes (Spurs), Draymond Green (Warriors), Adreian Payne (Timberwolves), Zach Randolph (Grizzlies) and Alan Anderson (Clippers).
2017 Recruiting Class
Michigan State signed a pair of forwards on the first day of the early signing period on Nov. 9. Jaren Jackson Jr. is a 5-star 6-11, 220-pound forward from Indianapolis. Playing as a senior at La Lumiere, which has been ranked the No. 1 high school team in America for most of the season, Jackson Jr. has been named a 2017 McDonald’s All-American and was a preseason pick to the All-USA Preseason Boys Basketball Team as selected by USA TODAY Sports. He is the son of Jaren Jackson Sr., a former star at Georgetown and 1999 NBA Champion with the San Antonio Spurs. Despite his 6-11 frame, he shot .442 from 3-point range as a junior. He was a member of the 2016 USA Basketball U17 team that won a gold medal in Spain. Xavier Tillman is a 4-star 6-8, 270-pound forward from Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is a three-time MLIVE Grand Rapids Press Dream Team honoree. He averaged 16 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists as a junior, shooting 62% from the field while playing for Grand Rapids Christian, earning 2016 Associated Press Class A All-State honors.
Michigan State has had just two basketball coaches in the last 41 seasons and three in the last 48. Tom Izzo is in his 22nd season, having taking over from his mentor Jud Heathcote, who spent 19 years as head coach (1976-95). Before Heathcote, Gus Ganakas spent seven seasons as head coach. Ganakas is currently in his 31st-straight season providing commentary on Spartan radio broadcasts.
MSU vs. Kansas Notes
Overall, Kansas is making its 46th NCAA Tournament appearance as an at-large/automatic qualifier out of the Big 12 Conference. The Jayhawks have advanced to the NCAA Tournament 28-straight seasons, which is the longest active streak in the nation and the most all time.
MSU leads the all-time series against Kansas, 7-5, including a 1-1 record in the NCAA Tournament. The Spartans won the last NCAA Tournament meeting, defeating the Jayhawks in 2009 in the Regional Semifinal in Indianapolis, 67-62. The teams met last season in the Champions Classic in Chicago with MSU edging out KU, 79-73.
Bill Self (Oklahoma State, ’85) is 620-192 in his 24th season as a collegiate head coach, including 413-87 in his 14th season at Kansas. Self has taken three different schools to the NCAA Tournament, including Tulsa, Illinois and Kansas. Overall, Self has taken Kansas to the NCAA Tournament 14 times, including advancing to two Final Fours and capturing the 2008 National Championship.
Kansas Against The Field of 68
Kansas played seven teams in the 2017 NCAA Tournament field, posting a 10-2 record against Baylor, Duke, Iowa State, Kansas State, Kentucky, Oklahoma State and West Virginia.
Michigan State and Kansas share five common opponents this season: Baylor, Duke, Indiana, Kentucky and Nebraska. The Spartans were 2-4 against the group, while the Jayhawks had a 5-1 mark against those teams.
Senior Frank Mason III was named Big 12 Player of the Year, while Josh Jackson was the Big 12 Freshman of the Year. Mason leads the team and the Big 12 in scoring, averaging 20.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. Jackson is second on the team in scoring with 16.4 ppg. Devonte’ Graham is the third Jayhawk that averages in double figures, scoring 13.1 ppg. Kansas leads the conference in field goal percentage (.487) and 3-point field goal percentage (.405). KU head coach Bill Self will be heading to familiar territory, playing in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Self coached at the University of Tulsa from 1997-00, guiding the Golden Hurricane to the Elite Eight in 2000.
MSU vs. NCCU
About NC Central
North Carolina Central is making its second NCAA Tournament appearance following its inaugural trip in 2014. The Eagles won the 2017 MEAC Tournament Championship for the second time in their Division I era. NCCU is 25-8 overall and finished 13-3 in the MEAC.
If Michigan State and North Carolina Central meet it will be the first time the two teams have met in either the regular season or the NCAA Tournament.
LeVelle Moton (North Carolina Central, ’96) is 152-102 in his eighth season as a collegiate head coach, with all seven years coming at his alma mater, NCCU. Moton has coached two NCAA Tournament teams, the last in 2014 as the No.14 seed.
NC Central Against the Field of 68
North Carolina Central defeated Northern Kentucky 82-74 on the road on Nov. 26, and the Norse are the No. 15 seed in the South Region.
Michigan State and NC Central share one common opponent this season, Ohio State. NC Central’s one matchup with the Buckeyes resulted in a 69-63 loss on Nov. 14 in Columbus, Ohio. MSU met up with Ohio State twice this year splitting the games. The Spartans dropped the first decision 72-67 in Columbus on Jan. 15, but returned to the Breslin Center to defeat the Buckeyes 74-66 on Feb. 14.
NCCU has two players averaging double-digits. Patrick Cole leads the Eagles with a season-average of 19.5 points per game and also bringing down 7.0 rebounds per game, while Dajuan Graf is second on the team with 14.3 ppg. NC Central became an NCAA Division I school starting the academic year of 2011-12, previously serving as an NCAA Divsion II school. Patrick Cole was named MEAC Player of the Year as well as First Team All-MEAC and head coach LeVelle Moton earned his second MEAC Coach of the Year. Dejuan Graf was voted Second Team All-MEAC. NC Central is averaging 75.1 points per game, while holding its opponents to 63.4 ppg.
MSU vs. UC Davis Notes
About UC Davis
UC Davis is making its first ever NCAA Tournament appearance. The Aggies earned the automatic bid into the tournament after claiming the Big West Tournament title. UC Davis is 22-12 overall and finished 11-5 in conference play.
If Michigan State and UC Davis meet it will be the first time the two teams have met in either the regular season or the NCAA Tournament.
Jim Less (Bradley ’86) is 240-243 in his 14th season as a collegiate head coach and is 86-103 in his fifth season at the helm of the UC Davis program.
UC Davis Against The Field of 68
UC Davis has not matched up against any teams in the 2017 NCAA Tournament field.
MSU and UC Davis share one common opponent this season, Oakland. Michigan State defeated Oakland 77-65 in the final non-conference matchup of the season on Dec. 21. The Aggies lost their decision to the Golden Grizzlies, 79-66, at the Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage, Alaska on Nov. 26.
UC Davis, the Big West Tournament’s No. 2 seed, defeated UC Irvine 50-47 in the Big West Tournament Championship game to earn the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. Brynton Lemar was named to the All-Tournament Team and Chima Moneke was named the event’s Most Valuable Player. UC Davis has three players averaging in double-figures, led by Brynton Lemar who posts 16.0 points per game. Chima Moneke adds 14.5, while Siler Schneider chips in 10.6 points per game. Moneke is close to averaging a double-double, bringing in 9.5 rebounds per game.
The Book On Tom Izzo
In his 22nd year, Tom Izzo (Northern Michigan, ’77) is 543-219 (.713), and 256-120 (.681) in the Big Ten, as the head coach of the Michigan State basketball program. He ranks as the winningest coach in Michigan State history, having passed his mentor Jud Heathcote with his 341st career victory on Nov. 28, 2009. In his 21 seasons as a head coach, Izzo has captured eight National Coach of the Year awards, including the Clair Bee Award in 2005 and NABC honors in 2001 and 2012. In 1999, Izzo was named National Coach of the Year by Basketball Times, while earning similar honors from The Associated Press, Basketball News and the USBWA in ’98. He also earned National Coach of the Year accolades from CBSSports.com in 2012. He earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors in 1998, 2009 and 2012. Izzo was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on September 9, 2016, cementing his status as one of the game’s all-time greats.
Among The Big Ten’s Best
Tom Izzo’s .681 winning percentage in Big Ten games ranks fourth all-time among league coaches with at least 10 years of service, behind former Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan (.717), former Indiana coach Bob Knight (.700) and former Purdue coach Ward Lambert (.685). In all games, Ryan ranks first at .737, followed by Ohio State’s Thad Matta (.735), Knight (.734), Izzo (.713), Wisconsin’s Walter Meanwell (.712), and Lambert (.709). With 256 conference victories, Izzo ranks third all time.
Izzo Among Best Ever
Through his first 21 seasons, Tom Izzo won 524 games, ranking fifth in college basketball history for most wins by a college coach in his first 21 years.
Tom Izzo led MSU to seven Final Four appearances between 1999 and 2015, becoming just the fourth school in college basketball history to do it in any 17-year span, including just the third since the tournament field expanded to 64 teams in 1985. Izzo’s seven Final Fours are the most by any coach since his first season in 1996 and he ranks fifth all-time, including tied for fifth among active coaches. The seven Final Fours are also the most by any Big Ten coach.
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