March 19, 2013
|No. 3 Michigan State (25-8, 13-5) vs. No. 14 Valparaiso (26-7, 13-3)
||Thursday, March 21, 2013
||12:15 p.m. ET
||Auburn Hills, Mich. | The Palace of Auburn Hills
||CBS (Verne Lundquist, Bill Raftery, Rachel Nichols)
||Spartan Sports Network (Will Tieman, Gus Ganakas, Matt Steigenga)
|| Available at Ticketmaster.com
| Game Notes
||Michigan State | Valparaiso
|| Michigan State | Valparaiso
| Internet Coverage
| Social Media
||@MSU_Basketball | Facebook
THE OPENING TIP
Michigan State enters the 2013 NCAA Tournament as the No. 3 seed in the Midwest Region. The Spartans open against No. 14 Valparaiso, the same team MSU met in the first game of its run to an NCAA Championship in 2000. For the Spartans, this is their 16th consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament.
THE STARTING FIVE
1. MSU's NCAA Streak
Michigan State is making its 16th straight NCAA Tournament appearance in 2013. It is the longest current streak among Big Ten schools and third longest in the nation. Only Kansas (24) and Duke (18) have longer current streaks. It is also the second-longest streak in Big Ten history. Indiana appeared in 18 consecutive tournaments between 1986 and 2003.
2. MSU In The NCAA Tournament
Michigan State is making its 27th appearance in the NCAA Tournament with a record of 54-25 in its previous 26 tournaments. MSU has made eight trips to the Final Four (1957, 1979, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2009, 2010) and captured the NCAA Championship in 1979 and 2000.
3.Spartan NCAA Magic In Auburn Hills
In 2000, Michigan State played in the Midwest Regional at The Palace of Auburn Hills, coming from behind to win games against Syracuse and Iowa State. In the Sweet 16, MSU trailed the Orange by 10 at the half, and by 11 (49-38) with 15:14 left. For the rest of the game, MSU would outscore Syracuse, 37-9. With the score tied at 58 with 5:55 remaining, MSU closed the game on a 17-0 run to win 75-58. In the Elite Eight, the Spartans trailed the Cyclones, 59-52, with 5:49 remaining. But once again, MSU went on an amazing run, outscoring ISU, 23-5, in the final 5:17. MSU sealed the win by making 11-of-12 free throws in the final 1:07. Just as it would be the case this year if MSU were to win two games, the Spartans advanced to Indianapolis with two wins at The Palace, eventually going on to win the NCAA Championship in the RCA Dome.
4. At His Best When It Counts
Tom Izzo ranks seventh among active coaches for the best NCAA Tournament winning percentage at .725 (37-14). Duke's Mike Krzyzewski ranks first at .767 (79-24), followed by North Carolina's Roy Williams (.753, 61-20), SMU's Larry Brown (.737, 14-5), Florida's Billy Donovan (.737, 28-10), Butler's Brad Stevens (.733, 11-4), and Kentucky's John Calipari (.725, 29-11). Of those seven, Izzo and Krzyzewski are the only coaches to appear in the last 16 NCAA Tournaments. In NCAA Tournament wins, Izzo (37) ranks fifth among active coaches, trailing just Krzyzewski (79), Williams (61), Syracuse's Jim Boeheim (48) and Louisville's Rick Pitino (42).
5. Izzo's NCAA Streak
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo is making his 16th straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. It's the second-longest active streak in the nation, trailing only Mike Krzyzewski, who is making his 18th straight trip this season. By making the tournament this season, Izzo passes former Indiana coach Bob Knight's 15-straight appearances (1986-2000) as the longest streak in Big Ten history.
NCAA TOURNAMENT NOTES
MSU At the Palace
Michigan State is 10-2 all-time at The Palace of Auburn Hills, including 2-0 in the NCAA Tournament. On Dec. 15, 1990, No. 1 UNLV defeated MSU, 95-75. MSU's first victory at the Palace was a 75-72 win over Arkansas in the 1995 Great Eight. The Spartans returned to The Palace for the 2000 Midwest Regional semifinals and finals, using second-half comebacks to defeat Syracuse and Iowa State. One year later, MSU brought a No. 1 ranking into The Palace and defeated Bowling Green, 85-69. Michigan State hosted the Spartan Clash from 2003-07. After falling to Oklahoma, 80-77 in overtime, in the 2003 Clash, MSU posted consecutive victories against Stanford (78-53) in 2004, Wichita State (83-64) in 2005, BYU (76-61) in 2006 and Texas (78-72) in 2007. In December of 2008 and 2010, the Spartans defeated Oakland.
MSU In Opening Games
In its 26 NCAA Tournaments, Michigan State has a record of 20-6 in its first game of the tournament. Since the field expanded in 1985, the Spartans are 16-6 in the round of 64. Tom Izzo is 11-4 in the round of 64. (Note: The round of 64 which used to be the first round is now the second round.)
Spartan Opponents In NCAA Tournament
Nine Michigan State opponents are in the field of 68 for the 2013 NCAA Tournament, including Big Ten foes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State, and Wisconsin, and non-conference opponents Boise State, Kansas, and Miami (Fla.). The Spartans are a combined 8-7 against the nine teams, playing 15 of their 33 games against tournament teams. What's more impressive is that six of those nine opponents earned a Top 5 seed, as MSU played a combined 11 games against the Top 5 seeds, posting a 5-6 record.
Big Ten Conference In The NCAA Tournament
The Big Ten Conference has seven of its 12 schools in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Joining the Spartans are No. 1 Indiana, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 4 Michigan, No. 5 Wisconsin, No. 7 Illinois, and No. 11 Minnesota. The Big Ten leads all conferences with 58.3 (7-of-12) percent of its teams making the tournament, followed by the Mountain West (.556, 5-of-9) and Big East (.533, 8-of-15). The Big Ten and Big East lead the way with four Top 4 seeds. Only the Big East (8) has more teams in the tournament than the Big Ten.
Michigan State ranks seventh among all schools in NCAA Tournament winning percentage for teams with at least 20 tournament games. MSU's .684 winning percentage (54-25) trails only Duke (.750, 96-32), UCLA (.731, 95-35), North Carolina (.725, 108-41), Florida (.711, 32-13), Kentucky (.707, 111-46), and Kansas (.699, 93-40). MSU's 54 tournament wins rank ninth in NCAA history and second among Big Ten schools, behind Indiana (62).
MSU In The Second Round
Since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, Michigan State has advanced to the round of 32 (new third round) 16 times. MSU has a 12-4 record in round of 32 games since 1985, including winning 10 of its last 11.
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 17-3 in the second game of an NCAA Tournament weekend. What's even more impressive is that all three losses have all come to No. 1 seeds.
Two Titles Not Too Shabby
Michigan State is one of just 14 schools to have won two or more NCAA Championships. Cincinnati, Florida, Louisville, North Carolina State, Oklahoma State and San Francisco join MSU with two titles. Only UCLA (11), Kentucky (8), Indiana (5), North Carolina (5), Duke (4), Connecticut (3) and Kansas (3) have won more titles.
MSU VS. VALPARAISO NOTES
The Crusaders won the Horizon League regular season (13-3) and conference tournament to earn their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2004. Valparaiso enters the NCAA Tournament with a 26-7 record. Ryan Broekhoff, a first-team All-Horizon League selection, leads the team in points (15.9) and rebounds (7.3), ranking third in the conference in points and second in rebounds.
Valparaiso vs. The Field of 68
The Crusaders are 0-2 against teams in this year's NCAA Tournament. Valparaiso lost on the road to Saint Louis, 49-62, on Dec. 2, and to New Mexico, 52-65, on Dec. 8.
The Spartans and Crusaders each played Oakland, Loyola and Nebraska this season. MSU was 4-0 against that group, while Valparaiso was 1-3. The Spartans beat Oakland at home (70-52, Nov. 23) and Loyola at Breslin (73-61, Dec. 8), and swept the season series with Nebraska, winning at home (66-56, Jan. 13) and in Lincoln (73-64, Feb. 16). Meanwhile, Valparaiso lost at Nebraska (50-48, Nov. 15) and at Oakland (70-68, Dec. 17). The Crusaders and Loyola split the conference series, with each team winning on the opponent's home floor - 63-54 loss on Jan. 2 and an 85-76 win on Feb. 19.
Michigan State leads the all-time series with Valparaiso, 4-1. The Spartans have won the last three meetings, with the lone MSU loss coming in 1922. The two schools last met in Breslin Center on Nov. 22, 2009, a 90-60 Spartan win. The Crusaders were the Spartans' opponent in the first round of the 2000 NCAA Tournament. MSU won 65-38 in the No. 1/16 matchup, behind 15 points and eight assists from Mateen Cleaves, en route to its second national championship. The Spartan defense was the story of the game, holding Valparaiso to a .250 field-goal percentage. Derrick Nix is the only current Spartan to have faced Valparaiso (2 points, 1 rebound in 2009).
Bryce Drew (Valparaiso, '98) is 48-18 in his second season as head coach of his alma mater. Drew has led the Crusaders to back-to-back regular season Horizon League titles and two postseason berths. Last season, he earned Horizon League Coach of the Year honors. Prior to being named head coach, he spent six seasons as an assistant to his dad, Homer, at Valpo. As a player, Drew is the career leader in points (2,142), three-point field goals (364) and assists (626) at Valpo, and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2003.
Valparaiso is making its eighth NCAA Tournament appearance ... The Crusaders are 2-7 all-time in the tournament, picking up both wins in their 1998 run to the Sweet 16 ... Valparaiso set a new program record for victories in a single season with 26 ... The Crusaders are sixth in the nation, shooting 48.9% from the field ... Ryan Broekhoff is 18th in the country (and first in the league) in free throw percentage (87.8%) and 20th in 3-point field goal percentage (43.2) ... Kevin Van Wijk, who was second-team All-Horizon League, leads the conference in field goal percentage (65.0%).
MSU BIG TEN TOURNAMENT NOTES
* Adreian Payne led MSU in both scoring (15.0 ppg) and rebounding (9.0 rpg).
* Keith Appling (14.5 ppg) and Derrick Nix (12.0 ppg) also averaged double-figures in scoring.
* The Spartans held a +6.0 rebounding margin, including averaging 14.0 offensive rebounds.
* MSU shot .774 from the foul line, but just .393 from the field.
MSU BASKETBALL NOTES
All-Big Ten Spartans
Four Spartans were honored when the All-Big Ten Teams were announced on March 11. Gary Harris became the first Spartan to ever win Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors since the award's inception in 1986. Harris, Adreian Payne and Keith Appling all earned Second-Team All-Big Ten honors from the league's coaches, while the media picked Harris and Payne for the second team and Appling for the third team. Derrick Nix earned honorable mention accolades from the coaches, and Payne was the MSU recipient of the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.
As the lone senior on the Spartan squad, Derrick Nix is a prime example of what maturation and perseverance can do in a student-athlete's career. He currently averages 9.5 points and 6.2 rebounds, after averaging just 2.3 points and 2.1 boards as a freshman. Through his first three years, he had one career double-double, one career double-figure rebounding game and 16 career double-figure scoring games. This year alone he has three double-doubles, five double-figure rebounding games, and 13 double-figure scoring games. He's also shown dramatic improvement at the foul line, shooting .724 this season, after having shot just .271 as a freshman. Over the course of his career, MSU is 101-40, and Nix has been a part of Spartan Big Ten Championship teams in 2010 and 2012, and three NCAA Tournament squads, including starting as a freshman at the 2010 Final Four.
Harris Paces Big Ten Freshmen
Gary Harris is the first player in Michigan State history to earn Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors, since it was first awarded in 1986. He was one of eight finalists, and the only Big Ten finalist, for the 2013 Integris Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year Award, presented by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. In Big Ten games, he led conference freshmen in scoring, averaging 13.7 points per contest. Harris led Big Ten freshmen in 3-point percentage in conference games at .472 (42-of-89), ranking second among all players, and 3-point field goals made (2.3), which ranked tied for fifth among all players. Defensively, he led Big Ten freshmen with 1.6 steals per game, ranking fourth among all players. He also leads conference freshmen in overall scoring at 12.9 ppg. He was a three-time recipient of Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors (Nov. 19, Dec. 10, Feb. 18).
Payne's Improved Play
Over the last 16 games, Adreian Payne is averaging 12.4 points, shooting 80-of-142 (.563) from the field, including 15-of-32 (.469) from 3-point range. In the last eight games, he's averaging 13.9 points and 10.1 rebounds, including grabbing 14 boards at Nebraska and a career-high 15 at Ohio State, while recording four double-doubles. A look at the Big Ten stats shows that Payne is one of the premier big men in the Big Ten, ranking third in the conference in rebounding (7.5 rpg), fourth in field-goal percentage (.563) and ninth in blocks (1.2 bpg). He also ranks third on the Spartans in scoring at 10.4 points per contest. Early in the season, he was limited by foul trouble, averaging just 20.1 minutes in the first 18 games, playing 30 or more minutes just once. However, he is averaging 30.9 minutes over the last 15 games, recording 11 of the 12 30-minute games of his career.
MSU In March
Michigan State is 71-29 (.710) in March since the 1998-99 season. For his career, Tom Izzo is 78-36 (.684) in March. Over the last four-plus years (2009-present), MSU is 25-9 (.735) in what Coach Izzo calls his favorite month of the year.
Harris Ranks Among Best MSU Freshmen Ever
Gary Harris is on his way to turning in one of the best freshman campaigns in Michigan State history. His 12.9 ppg overall scoring average ranks third in school history behind just Earvin Johnson (17.0) and Shawn Respert (15.8). With 59 made three-pointers he also ranks third, trailing Chris Hill (66) and Shawn Respert (60), while ranking second with 143 3-point attempts. He also ranks among the top five in 3-point field-goal percentage (fifth, .413) and steals (third, 42).
Michigan State presents a balanced scoring attack with all five Spartan starters averaging 9.4 points or better. Keith Appling, Branden Dawson, Gary Harris, Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne have all led the Spartans in scoring during Big Ten play, and all five have scored 20 points in at least one game this season, including four of them doing it in Big Ten games.
Playing The Best
Since the 1997-98 season, the year of Michigan State's first of 15 straight trips to the NCAA Tournament, the Spartans have played 174 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 (157), Kentucky (150), Duke (148) and Connecticut (142). (Through March 17)
Appling Joins 1,000-Point Club
With his 16 points at Nebraska, Keith Appling became the 43rd player in Michigan State history to record 1,000 career points, and just the 29th player to reach the milestone in three seasons. With 1,085 career points, he is 15 points away from passing Bill Kilgore (1,099 points) for 37th place in Michigan State history, and 25 away from passing Al Ferrari (1,109 points) for 36th place.
Improved 3-Point Shooting
Since the start of Big Ten play, Michigan State has been shooting better from 3-point range. Over the last 20 games, the Spartans are shooting .361 (105-of-291). In conference games, the Spartans shot .366 (96-of-262), ranking third in the Big Ten. The high percentage can be directly attributed to prolific shooting from Adreian Payne (.469; 15-of-32) and Gary Harris (.458; 44-of-96) in the last 20 games.
Limiting Turnovers In Conference Play
One area of concern for Michigan State is the number of turnovers, as the Spartans are averaging 13.4 per game, including five games with 19 or more. In Big Ten play, however, MSU did a much better job, averaging 11.9 per conference game, including six games with 10 or fewer. On the season, MSU is 14-1 when committing the same number or fewer turnovers than its opponent.
MSU Against Ranked Opponents
Michigan State is 5-6 this season against teams that were ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 at the time of the contest. The Spartans have played 15 of their 33 games against teams that have been ranked at some point this season, posting a 7-8 mark in those contests. In fact, MSU has played 12 games against teams that have been ranked in the Top 10 at some point this season, going 5-7.
Assists From The Post
One of the reasons Michigan State has been shooting better from the perimeter in recent games has been the inside-outside combination, and many well placed passes from the post hitting the Spartan shooters at the right time. Among the best at it is senior center Derrick Nix. In conference games, he ranked third on the team with 36 assists. He's been especially effective lately, totaling 40 assists in the last 16 games, including collecting a career-best six assists at Indiana and on Senior Day against Northwestern.
Coming From Behind
Michigan State leads the Big Ten with eight wins when trailing at the half. In fact, the Spartans have a .667 (8-4) winning percentage when behind at halftime.
Winning the Close Ones
Michigan State is 8-5 in games decided by five points or less, including 3-3 in conference games. MSU has avoided the blowout loss this season, as seven of the eight losses have been by eight points or less, and the other loss (at Minnesota) was a two-point game with three minutes left. In fact, in seven of MSU's losses, MSU has been within a basket in the final three minutes.
It's All About Boardwork
Michigan State has led the nation in rebounding in four of the last 13 seasons (2000, 2001, 2009, 2010), ranking in the Top 10 eight times and the Top 25 on 11 occasions. MSU has led the Big Ten in rebounding in 12 of the last 15 years. In the Tom Izzo era, MSU has out-rebounded 474 of 614 opponents (.772), posting a 375-99 (.791) mark in those games. The Spartans have out-rebounded 29 of 33 opponents this season, having been out-rebounded just three times (Minnesota (twice), Northwestern). They rank third in the Big Ten and 14th in the nation with a +6.7 rebounding margin. In conference games, the Spartans ranked second at +4.3.
Given the fact that Branden Dawson had ACL surgery just last March (two days after suffering the injury in the regular-season finale vs. Ohio State), it's remarkable that he has not missed even a single practice this season. On the season, he ranks fifth on the team in scoring (9.4 ppg), third in rebounding (6.0 rpg), and fourth in minutes played (26.8 mpg).
Dawson Gets Defensive
Branden Dawson has recorded a team-best 53 steals (1.6 spg), ranking tied for fifth in the Big Ten, and 31 blocks (0.9 bpg), ranking second on the team and 13th in the Big Ten. He is the only player 6-foot-6 or taller to rank in the Top 15 in steals, and the only one 6-foot-6 or shorter in the Top 15 in blocks. As a freshman, Dawson collected 29 steals in 31 games. Keith Appling ranks second on the team and 11th in the Big Ten with 45 steals (1.4 spg), while Adreian Payne leads the team and ranks ninth in the Big Ten with 39 blocks (1.2 bpg).
In The Paint
Michigan State has out-scored its opponents in the paint by an average of +9.1 points (33.8-24.7), out-scoring 27 of its 33 opponents. At times, MSU has dominated the paint, including out-scoring Texas Southern (46-10), Oakland (40-16), Miami (30-14), Nicholls State (52-20), Tuskegee (42-26), Bowling Green (42-24), Texas (30-16), Ohio State (34-14), Michigan (36-22) and Wisconsin (32-12). On the season, the Spartans have scored 49.5 percent of their points in the paint (1114 of 2252).
Spartans Pass Tough Stretch
Beginning with the home game vs. Ohio State and concluding with the home game against Wisconsin, Michigan State played eight games against opponents currently ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 (March 11) in a span of 12 games. Ten of the 12 games were against teams expected to make the NCAA Tournament. The run finished with MSU playing four straight Big Ten games against ranked opponents for the first time since 1993. In fact, MSU is the only team in the nation to play four straight ranked opponents in conference play this season.
There's An App For That
Keith Appling leads the Spartans in scoring (13.6 ppg - t-11th Big Ten) and assists (3.5 apg - 8th Big Ten), having led MSU in scoring in 15 games, and scoring 20 or more points four times, all coming in Spartan wins. He's also shown a knack to elevate his play in the final minutes of games. In addition, he's establishing himself as one of the premier defenders in the nation. He was named captain on Jan. 20. Following his 24-point, 8-rebound, 7-assist game against Illinois, he was named Co-Big Ten Player of the Week on Feb. 4.
Michigan State led the Big Ten in steals in conference games (7.9 spg) for just the second time since the Big Ten first started crowning a steals champion in 1986 (conference games only), having also led the conference in 1998 (8.3 spg). The Spartans also pace the conference in all games at 8.1 spg. Against Wisconsin, the Spartans recorded a season-high 16 steals, matching the second-highest total ever by MSU in a Big Ten game.
Big Ten Win No. 200
Tom Izzo recorded his 200th Big Ten victory with MSU's 81-72 win at Penn State. He joins Mike Krzyzewski (Duke) and Jim Boeheim (Syracuse) as the only coaches in a power six conference with 200 conference wins at their current school. Mike Montgomery (California) has more than 200 Pac 12 wins, but a majority of those came in a previous stint with Stanford. With 209 Big Ten wins, Izzo trails Bob Knight (353), Gene Keady (265), Ward Lambert (228), Lou Henson (214), and Branch McCracken (210).
Big Ten Success
Michigan State has won 13 Big Ten Championships, including three of the last five, 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 567-455 (.555) in league play, including 209-95 (.688) under Tom Izzo, who ranks sixth in league history with 209 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 209-95, 17 games better than second-place Wisconsin (192-112).
With its victory at Purdue, Michigan State recorded its 13th 20-win season in the last 16 years, all under head coach Tom Izzo. Of the 21 20-win seasons in Spartan history, Izzo has been involved in 18 of them, 13 as a head coach and five as an assistant.
Payne's Block Party
Junior center Adreian Payne is tied with Delvon Roe for third place in Michigan State history with 106 career blocks. Draymond Green ranks second with 117. Earlier this season, Payne equaled his career high with four blocks against Kansas.
Harris' Immediate Impact
Gary Harris ranks second on the Spartans and leads Big Ten freshmen in scoring at 12.9 points per contest. If you only consider games in which he played more than a minute, he's averaging 13.3 ppg. He opened his Spartan career by becoming just the third freshman in MSU history to score in double figures in each of his first three games. He suffered a shoulder sprain in the first defensive possession of the fourth game of the season against Boise State, and missed the two games following that one. He is a three-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week, earning the honor on Nov. 19, Dec. 10 and Feb. 18. He's averaged a team-best 13.7 ppg in Big Ten play, leading conference freshmen. Harris leads MSU in 3-pointers made (59) and attempted (143), and made 47.2 percent (42-of-89) of his shots from behind the arc in conference action.
MSU's Center Tandem
Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne combine to give Michigan State a steady inside presence. Although they often will take the floor together, at least one of them is usually in the game. Combined, they average 19.9 ppg and 13.7 rpg. Both of them are also shooting better than 50 percent from the field.
Four different Spartans have posted a double-double this season. Adreian Payne (Nicholls State, Loyola, Tuskegee, Nebraska, Ohio State, Michigan, Iowa) leads the way with seven, while Derrick Nix (Tuskegee, Texas and Nebraska) and Branden Dawson (Connecticut, Purdue, Wisconsin) each have three. Denzel Valentine (Oakland) has one.
The 2011-12 season was one of Michigan State's best defensive efforts on record. The Spartans ranked second in the nation, allowing opponents to shoot .379 from the field, the lowest percentage by Spartan opponents since 1957-58 (.343). In addition, MSU ranked No. 15 in the nation in scoring defense (59.3 ppg) and 3-point field-goal percentage defense (.299). This season, MSU is allowing opponents to shoot .394 from the field, ranking fourth in the Big Ten, including .301 from 3-point range, ranking third. MSU also ranks third in the conference in scoring defense, allowing just 59.3 points per contest.
Michigan State got off to a cold shooting start this season, failing to shoot better than 39 percent in either half in the opener against Connecticut. In the 64 halves of basketball that have followed, the Spartans have shot 50 percent or better 24 times. On the season, MSU is shooting .460 from the field, ranking third in the Big Ten. In conference games, the Spartans ranked third, shooting .454.
Nix Attacks The Glass
Derrick Nix grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds in his Spartan debut three seasons ago, but did not record double figures in rebounds again until the 2012-13 season opener when he collected 11 boards against Connecticut. He has five double-figure rebounding games this season, and has recorded three double-doubles. They were his first double-doubles since his Spartan debut. Following a career-high 25-point, 11-rebound effort against Texas, he was named Big Ten Player of the Week on Dec. 24.
Searching For A Rotation
Michigan State has used five different starting lineups this year. Eight current Spartans are averaging 8.0 minutes or more per game, and 10 are averaging 6.1 minutes or more. Finding a rotation was difficult early in the season due to injuries to Travis Trice, Matt Costello and Gary Harris. In fact, the game at Miami (No. 7 of the season) was the first game in which all non-redshirting scholarship players saw action, and even then, Trice and Harris were just coming off injuries.
Freshmen Gary Harris and Denzel Valentine have made key contributions early in their Spartan careers. Harris ranks second on the squad in scoring (12.9 ppg) and minutes (29.6 mpg). Valentine also has made his mark, ranking second in assists (2.4 apg), fourth in rebounds (4.1 rpg) and sixth in minutes (20.9 mpg). Matt Costello has seen limited action, averaging 6.1 minutes in the 27 games in which he's played, although he's averaging 2.0 points and 8.4 minutes in his last 10 games.
Appling At Winning Time
In several of Michigan State's wins, Keith Appling has made key plays down the stretch to secure a Spartan victory. Against Kansas, Appling scored five points in the final 1:36, first hitting a 3-pointer to give MSU a four-point lead, and then connecting on an acrobatic driving layup with 14 seconds left to give MSU a 67-64 win. He scored 16 of his 19 points in the second half against the Jayhawks. Against Boise State, with MSU leading by two points in the final minute, Appling hit another driving layup with 14 seconds left, this time converting on a three-point play to give MSU a 73-68 advantage. Against Oakland, with the Golden Grizzlies having cut the lead to four points with under seven minutes left, Appling knocked down a 3-pointer to spark a 15-1 run to close the game. At Iowa, he scored six of his 12 points in the final 1:49, including hitting all four free throw attempts in the final 20 seconds of a three-point Spartan win. Against Ohio State, he had a direct hand in MSU's final nine points, including scoring the Spartans' final six points in the last 41 seconds; assisting on Adreian Payne's three-point play, driving past Aaron Craft for a go-ahead layup, scoring on a breakaway dunk and sealing the game with two free throws with 7.9 seconds left. After the OSU victory, Coach Tom Izzo remarked "Appling at winning time has been as good as anybody." Against Illinois, Appling scored 19 of his game-high 24 points in the second half, scoring or assisting on 11 of MSU's 14 second-half field goals. He scored nine points in the game's final 4:22.
Michigan State is outscoring opponents, 370-288, in second-chance points for the season. That's an average of +2.2 points per game (11.2-8.7). The Spartans are averaging 11.5 offensive boards per game, with an offensive rebound percentage of .358.
Another Izzo Milestone
Tom Izzo became the third-winningest coach in Big Ten history with Michigan State's win vs. Purdue on Jan. 5. The victory was win No. 424, passing Lou Henson (423 wins; 1975-96). Izzo (437 wins) now trails just Bob Knight (662; 1971-2000) and Gene Keady (512; 1980-2005).
Senior Derrick Nix and red-shirt sophomore Russell Byrd will serve as team captains during the 2012-13 season. They were chosen by a vote of their teammates, and Tom Izzo made the announcement at MSU Men's Basketball Media Day on October 9. On Jan. 20, Izzo announced that Keith Appling was added as a team captain.
Michigan State has a reputation for being a strong, physical team and the numbers back it up. Twelve players on MSU's roster can leg press over 700 pounds, with Derrick Nix leading the way with 1100 pounds. Since his arrival on campus, Keith Appling has increased his leg press by 315 pounds under the direction of Strength and Conditioning Coach Mike Vorkapich. Collectively, the Spartans can leg press 6 tons - the equivalent of three cars or one African elephant. In terms of upper body strength, Nix leads the way once again, bench pressing the NBA testing standard of 185 pounds 22 times. Gary Harris is the strongest of the guards, ranking tied with Alex Gauna for second on the team with 19 repetitions.
In addition to their strength, the Spartans have also proven to be incredibly athletic, leading to the up-tempo pace Michigan State desires to play this season. When Coach Izzo recruited Adreian Payne, he called Payne the most athletic big man he's ever coached. He wasn't exaggerating as Payne holds the Izzo-era record for a standing vertical jump (no step) at 38 inches. Given a running start, three players can elevate greater than 40 inches: Keith Appling (42"), Adreian Payne (41"), and Travis Trice (40.5").
MSU VS. MEMPHIS NOTES
Memphis (30-4) clinched its sixth outright Conference USA regular-season title this season with a perfect 16-0 league record. It marked the fourth time that the Tigers have gone undefeated in Conference USA, and the fifth time overall in school history during conference play. The Tigers won their seventh Conference USA Tournament title in eight years, and third in a row, with a 91-79 double overtime victory over Southern Miss in the championship game.
Memphis vs. The Field of 68
The Tigers went 1-3 against teams in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Memphis defeated Ivy League Champion Harvard on Jan. 19, 60-50. The Tigers fell to both VCU (78-65) and Minnesota (84-75) at the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament in The Bahamas. Memphis also lost to Big East Champion Louisville on Dec. 15, 87-78. Memphis is the only team from Conference USA in the field of 68 this year.
The Spartans and Tigers both played Minnesota this season. MSU split the season series against the Gophers, while Memphis lost, 84-75, in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament on Nov. 23.
Memphis has won both meetings against MSU. In the last matchup between the two schools, which came in the 2008 NCAA South Regional semifinal in Houston, Texas, the top-seeded Tigers defeated the fifth-seeded Spartans, 92-74. In the first meeting, Memphis topped MSU, 73-57, on Dec. 30, 1967, at the Sugar Bowl Tournament in New Orleans.
Josh Pastner (Arizona, 1998) is 105-33 in his fourth season as head coach at Memphis. He is the first Memphis coach to win at least three conference tournament championships in his first four years. Pastner spent six seasons (2002-08) as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Arizona, and was an assistant coach at Memphis for one season (2008-09) before being named head coach. Pastner was a member of Arizona's 1997 National Championship team and played four seasons for the Wildcats (1996-2000). This marks Pastner's third appearance in the NCAA Tournament as a head coach.
Memphis is making its 25th appearance in the NCAA Tournament, including nine out of the last 11 seasons ... The Tigers are 32-24 all-time in NCAA Tournament play, including three Final Four appearances (1973, 1985, 2008), six Elite Eights and 11 Sweet Sixteens ... Junior guard Joe Jackson leads the Tigers in scoring at 13.6 ppg and was a first-team All-Conference USA selection ... The Tigers placed three players on the All-C-USA Third Team: junior guard Geron Johnson, senior forward D.J. Stephens and sophomore forward Adonis Thomas ... Stephens was named the C-USA Defensive Player of the Year, as he leads the team in both blocks (83; 2.4 bpg) and rebounds (6.7 rpg) ... Junior guard Chris Crawford (10.7 ppg) was named the C-USA Sixth Man of the Year and also the Conference USA Tournament MVP after setting a C-USA Tournament record with 19 3-pointers ... Memphis ranks among the NCAA leaders in blocked shots (fourth at 6.3 bpg), assists (fourth at 17.2 apg), field-goal percentage (16th at .479) and steals (18th at 9.0 spg).
MSU VS. SAINT MARY'S NOTES
About Saint Mary's
The Gaels own a 27-6 record after falling to Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference championship game on March 11. Saint Mary's has played in the WCC title game in seven of the last 10 years. It is the second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament for Saint Mary's, and the Gaels' third in four years. The Gaels went 14-2 in West Coast Conference play, the same conference record as the 2012 team that won the outright regular season and conference tournament titles. That figure included two wins over BYU, as well as season sweeps against Santa Clara and San Francisco.
Saint Mary's vs. The Field of 68
The Gaels are 3-4 against teams that were selected for the 2013 NCAA Tournament, including three losses to conference foe Gonzaga. Creighton, Harvard and Pacific - three teams the Gaels defeated - made the tournament as automatic qualifiers. Saint Mary's suffered a season sweep to Gonzaga, losing on the road on Jan. 10 (83-78) and falling at home on Feb. 14 (77-60) before the loss in the conference championship on March 11 (65-51). The Gaels fell to Big West Champion Pacific 76-66 in the Direct TV Classic on Nov. 23, but bounced back to earn a win against the Tigers, 74-46, at home on Dec. 19. Saint Mary's defeated Ivy League Champion Harvard (70-69) on Dec. 31, before earning a victory over the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season and tournament champion Creighton at home, 74-66, on Feb. 23.
Michigan State and Saint Mary's did not share any common opponents during the 2013 season.
The Spartans and Gaels have never met.
Head coach Randy Bennett (UC San Diego, 1986) is 262-123 (.681) in his 12th season at Saint Mary's. He is a two-time WCC Coach of the Year and is making his fifth appearance in the NCAA Tournament, all with the Gaels. In 2012, seventh-seeded SMC fell to No. 10 Purdue in the second round, 72-69. In 2010, Bennett led the 10th-seeded Gaels to the Sweet 16 with wins over Richmond and Villanova, marking the program's first NCAA Tournament wins in 51 years. The Gaels also went to the NIT in 2009 and 2011. Bennett served as an assistant coach for 16 years before taking the Saint Mary's job, including stints at UC San Diego (1985-96), Pepperdine (1996-99) and Saint Louis (1999-01). He played at UC San Diego from 1983-85 and served as team captain.
Saint Mary's is making its eighth appearance in the NCAA Tournament ... The Gaels own a 3-7 record in the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Sweet 16 for the only time in school history in 2010 ... Senior guard Matthew Dellavedova, who is one of five finalists for the Bob Cousy Award given to the nation's top point guard, is a three-time All-West Coast Conference selection and was named the 2012 WCC Player of the Year ... Dellavedova is Saint Mary's all-time leader in career points with 1,901, breaking Daniel Kickert's (2002-06) record of 1,874 ... He is also the school's all-time leader in assists (757), 3-pointers (282) and 3-point attempts (750) ... Saint Mary's is one of four programs to have won at least 25 games in the each of the previous six seasons ... SMC ranks sixth in the NCAA in rebound margin (+8.7).
MSU VS. MIDDLE TENNESSEE NOTES
About Middle Tennessee
Middle Tennessee won its second straight Sun Belt regular-season championship and third in four years with a 19-1 league mark. The Blue Raiders have won a school-record 28 games and also set a school record by reeling off a 17-game winning streak during one stretch. The 19 conference wins are a school and league record. The Blue Raiders fell in the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament to Florida International. MTSU went 27-7 last season and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NIT.
Middle Tennessee vs. The Field of 68
The Blue Raiders were 3-2 against teams in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. In the non-conference season, Middle Tennessee fell to Florida on Nov. 18 in Tampa, 66-45, topped Mississippi at home on Dec. 8, 65-62, and dropped a 64-49 contest at Belmont on Dec. 13. MTSU went 2-0 against Western Kentucky during Sun Belt Conference play; but the Hilltoppers won the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
The Spartans and Blue Raiders both played Texas Southern and Louisiana this season. MSU was 2-0 against those schools, while MTSU was 4-0. The Blue Raiders defeated Louisiana, a fellow member of the Sun Belt Conference, three times - twice in the regular season, and also in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament.
Michigan State defeated Middle Tennessee on Dec. 19, 1977, at Jenison Field House, 72-51, in the only previous matchup between the two schools.
Kermit Davis (Mississippi State, 1992) is 208-138 (.601) in his 11th season as head coach at Middle Tennessee. Davis, who was named the Sun Belt Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season, is the winningest coach in school history and owns the most league victories (117) of any coach in Sun Belt Conference history. He owns a career Division I record of 279-188 (.597) in 15 seasons and is 345-213 (.618) in 18 years overall as a head coach. Davis is making his third trip to the dance as a head coach; in 1989 and 1990, he took the Idaho Vandals to the tournament after winning the Big Sky regular season and tournament championships both years.
Blue Raider Notes
Middle Tennessee is making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1989 and seventh in program history ... MTSU is 2-6 all-time in the NCAA Tournament ... The No. 11 seed matches the best seed in school history (1982), when the Blue Raiders upset sixth-seeded Kentucky for their first-ever NCAA Tournament victory ... As a No. 13 seed in 1989, MTSU rallied from a 17-point deficit to upset fourth-seeded Florida State, 97-83 ... Senior guard Marcos Knight leads the team in scoring at 12.5 ppg and was named first-team All-Sun Belt ... Senior guard Bruce Massey, who leads the team in assists (3.3 pg) and steals (1.5 pg), was named the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year ... Senior guard Raymond Cintron (8.7 ppg) was a third-team All-Sun Belt selection ... MTSU ranks among the NCAA leaders in scoring defense (15th at 57.8 ppg), 3-point field-goal defense (19th at .296) and rebound margin (23rd at +6.0).
THE BOOK ON TOM IZZO
In his 18th year, Tom Izzo (Northern Michigan, '77) is 437-177 (.712), and 209-95 (.688) in the Big Ten, as the 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 17 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.
Among The Big Ten's Best
Tom Izzo's .688 winning percentage in Big Ten games ranks third all-time among league coaches with at least 10 years of service, behind Wisconsin's Bo Ryan (.706), and former Indiana coach Bob Knight (.700), and ahead of former Purdue coach Ward Lambert (.685). In all games, Knight ranks first at .734, followed by Ryan (.722), Izzo (.712), Wisconsin's Walter Meanwell (.712), and Lambert (.709). With 209 conference victories, Izzo ranks sixth all-time.
Izzo Among Best Ever
Through his first 17 seasons, Tom Izzo won 412 games, ranking tied for second in college basketball history for most wins by a college coach in his first 17 years.
Izzo's Coaching Tree
Five current Division I head coaches all served as assistants to Tom Izzo, including Tom Crean (Indiana), Brian Gregory (Georgia Tech), Stan Heath (South Florida), Mark Montgomery (Northern Illinois) and Doug Wojcik (College of Charleston). Mike Garland served as head coach at Cleveland State for three seasons and Stan Joplin, an assistant during Izzo's first season, spent 12 seasons as head coach at Toledo. Jim Boylen was head coach at Utah for four years.