Michigan State Makes Seventh Trip To Sweet 16 In Last 11 Seasons
Spartans play No. 1 seed Memphis on Friday night.
March 25, 2008
EAST LANSING, Mich. -
No. 5 Michigan State (27-8, 12-6) vs. No. 1 Memphis (35-1, 16-0)
March 28, 2008 - Approx. 9:57 p.m. EDT
Houston, Texas - Reliant Stadium
Radio: Spartan Sports Network - Will Tieman (Play by Play),
Gus Ganakas (Color). Flagship - WJIM 1240 AM/WMMQ 94.9 FM
TV: CBS - Jim Nantz (Play by Play), Billy Packer (Color)
The Opening Tip
Michigan State is making its seventh trip to the Sweet 16 in the last 11 seasons. The Spartans will face the Memphis Tigers, the No. 1 seed in the South Region. This will be the just the second meeting ever between the Spartans and the Tigers, and the first one in the NCAA Tournament. The winner of the MSU/Memphis game will face the winner of the Stanford/Texas game on Sunday for the right to move on to the 2008 Final Four in San Antonio.
The Starting Five (And A Sixth Man)
1. Seven Sweet 16s In 11 Seasons - Since Michigan State's first trip to the NCAA Tournament under Tom Izzo in 1998, the Spartans have advanced to the Sweet 16 seven times in the last 11 years. During that same stretch, only Duke has more Sweet 16 appearances (9), while UCLA also has seven trips. Connecticut, Kansas and Kentucky have appeared in six of the last 11 Sweet 16s.
2. Spartans In The Sweet 16 - This is MSU's ninth trip to the Sweet 16 since the NCAA Tournament field expanded to 64 teams in 1985. Michigan State is 5-3 in Sweet 16 games, having won its last five.
3. Spartans Crank Up The Tournament Defense - Michigan State's defense played a large part in the Spartans advancing to the Sweet 16. Through two games, MSU is holding opponents to 57.5 points per game, and allowing opponents to shoot just 35.2 percent from the field, including 20.0 percent from behind the arc. The Spartans held Temple's leading scorer Dionte Christmas to three points, after he entered the game averaging 20.2 points. Against Pittsburgh, MSU held Ronald Ramon and Levance Fields to a combined 1-of-9 from 3-point range.
4. MSU's NCAA Streak - Michigan State is making its 11th straight NCAA Tournament appearance in 2008. It is the longest current streak among Big Ten schools and fifth longest in the nation. Only Arizona (24), Kansas (19), Kentucky (17) and Duke (13) 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.
5. MSU In The NCAA Tournament - Michigan State is making its 22nd appearance in the NCAA Tournament with a record of 43-20. MSU has made six trips to the Final Four (1957, 1979, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005) and captured the NCAA Championship in 1979 and 2000.
6. At His Best When It Counts - Tom Izzo ranks fourth among active coaches for the best NCAA Tournament winning percentage at .743 (26-9). Duke's Mike Krzyzewski ranks first at .767 (69-21), followed by Florida's Billy Donovan at .759 (22-7) and Louisville's Rick Pitino at .756 (34-11). Of those four, Izzo and Krzyzewski are the only coaches to appear in the last 11 NCAA Tournaments.
MSU vs. Memphis Notes
About Memphis - Memphis enters the Sweet 16 with a 35-1 record and on a nine-game winning streak. The No. 1 seed in the South Region, the Tigers beat No. 16 seed UT-Arlington, 87-63 in the first round and came back with a 77-74 win over No. 8 Mississippi State in round two. Memphis went undefeated (16-0) in Conference USA and went on to win the C-USA tournament title. This is Memphis' 21st NCAA Tournament appearance, owning a 27-20 record. The Tigers have advanced to 10 Sweet 16s, and over the past two seasons they have made it all the way to the Elite Eight.
Memphis vs. The Field - Memphis entered the NCAA Tournament with an 8-1 record against teams in the field. The Tigers had non-conference home wins against Arizona, Austin Peay, Georgetown, Gonzaga and Siena, and neutral court wins over Connecticut, Oklahoma and USC. Their lone loss came at home against Tennessee.
Common Opponents - Michigan State and Memphis did not play any common opponents this season.
Series History - The two schools have only met once, a 73-57 Memphis win on Dec. 30, 1967 in the finals of the Super Bowl Tournament in New Orleans, La.
Coach Calipari - John Calipari (Clarion State `82) is in his eighth season at Memphis with a record of 216-64. Calipari also was the head coach for eight seasons at Massachusetts, bringing his collegiate career record to 409-135. All-time, Calipari has a 20-8 record in NCAA play and has advanced into at least the Sweet 16 in six of his 10 NCAA appearances.
Tiger Notes - Memphis is second in the nation is scoring margin (+18.7) ... The Tigers are one of the best defensive teams in the country, placing seventh in field goal percentage defense (.385), eighth in blocks per game (6.2 bpg) and 37th in steals per game (8.5 spg) ... Memphis forces 16.3 turnovers per game, while committing just 12.0 ... Senior Joey Dorsey leads the team and is 28th in the nation with 9.7 rebounds per game ... Junior Antonio Anderson is 15th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.6-1) ... Junior Chris Douglas-Roberts was selected to the USBWA All-America First Team and is the team leader, averaging 17.3 points per game.
NCAA Tournament Notes
Final Fours For Active Coaches - With four Final Fours to his credit, Tom Izzo ranks fourth among active coaches. Mike Krzyzewski leads all active coaches with 10 Final Four appearances, followed by Rick Pitino and Roy Williams with five Final Fours each. Lute Olson also has made five trips to the Final Four, but is not coaching this season.
Spartan Opponents In NCAA Tournament - Six of Michigan State's regular-season opponents, including three non-conference teams, from the 2007-08 season are in the NCAA Tournament. The list includes BYU, Indiana, Purdue, Texas, UCLA and Wisconsin. The Spartans were a combined 4-5 against the field of 65 during the regular season.
MSU As A No. 5 Seed - This is the fifth time in school history that Michigan State has been the No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament. In 1986, MSU defeated No. 12 Washington (72-70) and No. 4 Georgetown before falling to No. 1 Kansas (96-86, OT). The Spartans were the No. 5 seed in back-to-back seasons in 1991 and 1992. In 1991, MSU defeated No. 12 UW-Green Bay (60-58), but lost to No. 4 Utah in double overtime (85-84). One year later, MSU defeated No. 12 Southwest Missouri State (61-54) before falling to No. 4 Cincinnati (72-65). Most recently, MSU advanced all the way to the Final Four as a No. 5 seed, defeating No. 12 Old Dominion (89-81), No. 13 Vermont (72-61), No. 1 Duke (78-68) and No. 2 Kentucky (94-88, 2OT), before falling to No. 1 North Carolina (87-71).
MSU In The South Region - Michigan State has had some recent success in the South Region, advancing through it to the 2001 and 2005 Final Fours. (It was called the Austin Region in 2005). In 2003, MSU advanced to the Elite Eight through the South. The Spartans were slotted in the South Region in 1990 (Sweet 16), 1994 (Second Round) and 1995 (First Round), although it was called the Southeast Region all three years.
Exclusive Company - Michigan State ranks eighth among all schools in NCAA Tournament winning percentage for teams with at least 20 tournament games. MSU's .683 winning percentage (43-20) trails only Duke (.748, 86-29), UCLA (.740, 91-32), Florida (.722, 26-10), North Carolina (.712, 94-38), Kentucky (.690, 98-44), UNLV (.688, 33-15), and Kansas (.684, 78-36). Also, MSU's 43 tournament wins are 10th most in NCAA history.
Two Titles Not Too Shabby - Michigan State is one of just 14 schools to have won two or more NCAA Championships. Cincinnati, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Louisville, North Carolina State, Oklahoma State and San Francisco join MSU with two titles. Only Duke (3), North Carolina (4), Indiana (5), Kentucky (7) and UCLA (11) have won more titles.
A Quick Turnaround - Under head coach Tom Izzo, Michigan State has a spectacular 12-2 record in the second game of a weekend in NCAA Tournament play. The Spartans' only two losses have come when playing a top seed in an opponent's home state, falling to No. 1 Texas at the 2003 South Region Final in San Antonio and losing to No. 1 North Carolina in the 2007 second round in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Notes From The First And Second Rounds
* Michigan State is holding opponents to 57.5 points, and 35.2 percent shooting, including 20.0 percent from 3-point range.
* The Spartans are shooting 92.6 percent from the foul line (25-of-27).
* Michigan State owns a + 9.5 rebounding margin.
* MSU is shooting 48.1 percent from the field, including 40.0 percent from 3-point range.
* Freshman Kalin Lucas leads the Spartans in scoring at 13.5 points per game.
* Goran Suton leads MSU in rebounding at 9.0 boards per game, followed closely by Drew Naymick at 7.5 boards per contest.
* MSU has shot between 48.0 percent and 48.3 percent from the field in all four halves.
First and Second Round Recaps
First Round No. 5 Michigan State 72 - No. 12 Temple 61
* Michigan State improved to 17-5 in opening games of the NCAA Tournament, including 13-5 in first-round games since 1985. Tom Izzo improved to 8-3 in first-round action.
* Michigan State's defense held Temple's leading scorer, Dionte Christmas, to just three points on 1-of-12 shooting, including 0-of-8 from 3-point range. Christmas entered the game averaging 20.2 points per contest.
* Drew Naymick recorded personal NCAA Tournament highs with 10 points and eight rebounds. In seven prior tournament games, he had tallied 11 points and 15 rebounds.
* With the score tied at 15, Michigan State went on a 15-2 run over the next 6:24.
* Leading 35-26 at the half, the Spartans opened the second half with a dunk and never led by less than 10 after that.
* In the first half, MSU shot 48.3 percent, compared to 29.6 percent for Temple.
* Chris Allen's 12 points marked his most since a 17-point effort against Northwestern on Jan. 24, and was his fourth-best output of the season.
Second Round No. 5 Michigan State 65 - No. 4 Pittsburgh 54
* Fifteen of Drew Neitzel's 21 points came from behind the arc, as he knocked down 5-of-8 3-pointers.
* Neitzel knocked down three straight shots, including two 3-pointers, turning a 47-46 lead into a 55-50 advantage.
* Kalin Lucas and Neitzel scored 21 of MSU's final 25 points over the final 11:31.
* MSU out-rebounded Pittsburgh, 37-26, including holding Sam Young to a season-low one board. The Spartans held a 12-6 advantage in second-chance points.
* The two teams combined to shoot 27-of-28 from the foul line, including 9-of-9 for MSU.
* MSU's defense did not allow a field goal from the 9:41 mark of the second half until just 42 seconds remained in the game, turning a 44-42 deficit into a 63-52 lead.
* Michigan State shot 60 percent from 3-point range (6-of-10), while Pittsburgh shot just 11.8 percent (2-of-17) from behind the arc.
MSU Basketball Notes
Morgan Strong In NCAA Action - In four career NCAA Tournament games, Raymar Morgan is averaging 13.0 points, shooting 53.1 percent (17-32) from the field. Morgan's top-scoring tournament game came against North Carolina in the 2007 second round, scoring 19 against the Tar Heels.
Neitzel In The Post-Season - Over the past two seasons, Drew Neitzel has been a peak performer in the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments, averaging 18.5 ppg in eight tournament games, including five games of 20 or more points. Neitzel made quite a statement in his final Big Ten Tournament, averaging 27.0 points in two contests, shooting 17-of-35 (.486) from the field, 10-of-22 (.455) from 3-point range and 10-of-10 (1.000) from the foul line. His 28 points vs. Ohio State and 26 vs. Wisconsin are the two greatest single-game totals in MSU Big Ten Tournament history.
Freshmen Solid In Tournament Debuts - Michigan State's freshman trio of Chris Allen, Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers provided significant contributions in MSU's first two NCAA Tournament games. The trio is averaging 25.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. Lucas is leading the Spartans in both scoring (13.5 ppg) and assists (4.0 apg) in NCAA Tournament action.
MSU In March - Michigan State is 46-19 in March since the 1998-99 season. For his career, Tom Izzo is 53-26 in March.
1,500 Points, 500 Assists - Drew Neitzel (1,528 points, 575 assists) is one of just three players in Michigan State history with 1,500 points and 500 assists, joining Mateen Cleaves (1,541 pts., 816 ast.) and Scott Skiles (2,145 pts., 645 ast.). In fact, Neitzel is one of just 12 Big Ten players in the 1,500-point, 500-assist club.
Spartans From Behind The Arc - Michigan State does not shoot a lot of 3-pointers, but it takes advantage of its shots, as the Spartans lead the Big Ten in 3-point field-goal percentage (.374). Over the last seven games, MSU is shooting 44.8 percent (47-of-105) from behind the arc.
On A Neutral Court - As everyone knows, the NCAA Tournament is not played on an opponent's home court, but rather at a neutral site. This season, Michigan State is 6-2 on a neutral court, turning in some impressive performances. In addition to the NCAA Tournament, MSU split a pair of games in the Big Ten Tournament, defeating Ohio State and falling to No. 8 Wisconsin by two points. The Spartans played in the CBE Classic in Kansas City in November, defeating Missouri, 86-83, before falling to No. 2 UCLA, 68-63. In December, MSU played No. 20 BYU in Salt Lake City, defeating the Cougars, 68-61. Later that month, the Spartans handed No. 4 Texas its first defeat of the season at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Kalin Lucas and Raymar Morgan each scored 18 points to lead MSU to a 78-72 win.
The Turnover Story - Michigan State has committed 12 or fewer turnovers in eight of its last 10 games, including five games with single-digit turnovers. Over the last 10 games, MSU is averaging 10.6 turnovers per game. For the year, MSU is 13-1 when committing fewer turnovers than its opponent. Michigan State is averaging 13.7 turnovers per game for the season, and 14.0 turnovers in conference play. In four of MSU's six regular-season Big Ten losses, the Spartans recorded 18 or more turnovers, although they committed just 10 in a loss at Penn State and six versus Wisconsin.
20-Win Seasons - With 27 wins, Michigan State has notched its 17th 20-win season in school history. The 27 victories are the fifth most in school history, one out of a tie for third most with the 1990 and 2001 squads. Of the 17 20-win seasons in Spartan history, Izzo has been involved in 14 of them, nine as a head coach and five as an assistant. The 24 regular-season wins were also MSU's third-largest regular-season total, tied with the 2000-01 squad and two behind the 1989-90 and 1998-99 teams.
Stellar Point-Guard Play - Michigan State's guards have taken care of the ball all season, but the trio of Kalin Lucas (41 assists, 13 turnovers), Drew Neitzel (29 ast., 12 to.) and Travis Walton (43 ast., 18 to.) have been especially strong over the last 10 games. As a unit, they have combined for 113 assists and 43 turnovers.
Suton Comes Alive - Goran Suton is averaging 9.9 points and 9.4 rebounds in the last eight contests. He was named the Big Ten Men's Basketball Player of the Week on March 3, after averaging 15.5 points and 12.0 rebounds in a pair of games against ranked opponents. The 15 rebounds against No. 10 Wisconsin and 17 points against No. 12 Indiana marked personal bests against Big Ten opponents. In the previous five games, Suton had averaged just 5.2 points and 4.6 rebounds. For the year, Suton averages 8.7 points and 8.2 rebounds, ranking second in the Big Ten in rebounding.
National Statistics - As of March 24, MSU ranks among the nation's statistical leaders in assists (11th, 17.5 apg), rebound margin (8th, +7.3), assist-to-turnover ratio (17th, 1.28), field-goal percentage (19th, .480) and field-goal percentage defense (25th, .398).
Kalin Raises His Play - Over the last 25 games, Kalin Lucas is averaging 11.6 points and 3.8 assists, scoring in double figures in 14 of the 25 contests, including six games where he led MSU in scoring. In NCAA Tournament games, he leads MSU at 13.5 points per game. He is also at his best against top competition as four of his 16 games of 18 points or more have come against ranked teams. Lucas burst onto the national scene against Texas (Dec. 22) with an 18-point, six-rebound, six-assist effort, leading the team in points and assists. Basketball experts across the nation noticed the performance, as Lucas was named Rivals.com National Freshman of the Week, and earned a spot on Jay Bilas' Honor Roll first team on ESPN.com. In conference games, Lucas averaged 10.6 points, shooting .447 from the field and .379 from 3-point range. With 133 assists, Lucas ranks fourth all-time among Spartan freshmen, 13 behind Mateen Cleaves and Scott Skiles in second place. Over the last 10 games, Lucas has 41 assists and 13 turnovers. Lucas was an Honorable Mention All-Big Ten selection.
MSU's Super Soph - After a solid freshman campaign, Raymar Morgan is having a breakout sophomore season. Morgan leads MSU in scoring (14.2 ppg), field goals made (185), and free throws made (118) and attempted (174), ranks second in rebounding (6.1 rpg) and field goals attempted (329), third in blocks (18) and fourth in steals (32). He is second on the team with three double-doubles. The Canton, Ohio, native ranks fifth in the Big Ten in scoring, eighth in rebounding, and fourth in field-goal percentage (.562). Morgan's play has been recognized nationally, as he was named a Midseason All-American by Rivals.com and a pre-conference All-American by Fran Fraschilla of ESPN.com. He also made Jay Bilas' Honor Roll on Dec. 31 (second team) and Jan. 7 (first team). He is a two-time Big Ten Player of the Week (Nov. 19 and Jan. 7) and a first-team USBWA and NABC All-District honoree. Morgan was also named Second-Team All-Big Ten by the league's media and coaches.
Lending A Helping Hand - MSU leads the Big Ten in assists, averaging 17.51 helpers per contest, ranking 11th in the nation (as of March 24). The Spartans have recorded an assist on 66.6 percent of their baskets. Individually, Travis Walton (2nd, 4.37 apg), Drew Neitzel (4th, 3.94 apg) and Kalin Lucas (5th, 3.80 apg) rank in the top five in the conference in assists. It is the first time that three teammates are ranked in the top 10 in assists since 2005, when Illinois' Deron Williams, Dee Brown and Luther Head all ranked in the top five.
Spartans Shooting Well - Michigan State is shooting a Big Ten-best 48.0 percent from the field this season, ranking 19th in the nation (as of March 24), and having shot better than 50 percent in 13 games. MSU has shot better than its opponent in 28 of 35 games. The Spartans also shot a Big Ten-leading 47.4 percent in league contests, marking the fifth straight season that MSU is the best shooting team in the conference.
All-Big Ten Spartans - Drew Neitzel earned First-Team All-Big Ten honors from the league's coaches, becoming the first Spartan to earn first-team honors in back-to-back seasons since Mateen Cleaves (1998-2000) and Morris Peterson (1999-2000). Neitzel also earned a spot on the media's second team, while Raymar Morgan was a second-team selection for both the coaches and media. Kalin Lucas was an Honorable Mention All-Big Ten selection by the media and coaches, while the league's coaches selected Travis Walton to the All-Defensive Team.
Neitzel Among Career Leaders - Drew Neitzel currently ranks fourth in career assists at Michigan State with 575. He is the all-time leader in MSU career free-throw percentage (.866), and ranks third in 3-point field goals made (271) and 3-point field goals attempted (677). Neitzel also ranks 10th in the Big Ten in career assists.
All-District Selections - Raymar Morgan and Drew Neitzel were named first-team All-District 11 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. The two Spartans were joined on the first team by Marquette's Dominic James, Minnesota's Dan Coleman and Wisconsin's Brian Butch. District 11 is comprised of schools from Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois. Morgan and Neitzel were also named All-District V by the United States Basketball Writers of America.
Neitzel Key To Success - A productive Drew Neitzel is a key to Michigan State's success. In Spartan victories, Neitzel averages 15.0 points, shooting .441 from the field and .428 from 3-point range. In MSU's seven losses, he is averaging 11.4 points, shooting .305 from the field and .300 from behind the arc. Michigan State is 15-2 when Neitzel scores 15 or more points this season.
Neitzel Recognized For Academics - Drew Neitzel has been named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America second team. Neitzel earned a spot on the team by posting a 3.27 grade-point average as an interdisciplinary humanities major. He is the fifth player in Spartan history to earn Academic All-America honors, joining Ralph Simpson (1970), Greg Kelser (1979), Matt Steigenga (1990) and Chris Hill (2003-05).
The 300 Club - Tom Izzo recorded his 300th career victory with Michigan State's 66-52 win over Iowa (Feb. 23). He became just the eighth coach in Big Ten history to win 300 games at the same school, joining his mentor Jud Heathcote (340), Illinois' Harry Combes (316) and Lou Henson (423), Indiana's Branch McCracken (364) and Bob Knight (661), and Purdue's Ward Lambert (371) and Gene Keady (512).
Naymick Breaks Block Record - Drew Naymick owns the MSU career record with 133 blocked shots. He passed Matt Steigenga for the Michigan State career lead with a block at Iowa on Jan. 12. This season, he has blocked 59 shots, second on the MSU single-season chart. He ranks third in the Big Ten this season with 1.69 blocks per contest. Naymick blocked 38 shots in the 18 conference games (2.11 bpg), ranking second in the Big Ten in league play.
Production Off The Bench - Because of its depth, Michigan State usually has a more productive bench than its opponent. The Spartan bench has outscored its opponent in 24 of 35 games. The MSU bench has also out-rebounded the opponent bench in 22 games.
Defense Remains Strong - Michigan State is holding its opponents to 39.8 percent shooting overall, and 31.1 percent shooting from 3-point range. The Spartans rank third in the Big Ten in field-goal percentage defense and second in 3-point field-goal percentage defense. In conference games, Michigan State ranked fourth in field-goal percentage defense (.410) and second in 3-point field-goal percentage defense (.315). The Spartans have held 19 of 35 opponents below 40 percent shooting. In Bloomington, Indiana shot a season-best 54.4 percent for a Spartan opponent. Last year, MSU allowed opponents to shoot just 38.4 percent, the lowest percentage since 1958-59, and MSU held 23 of 35 opponents below 40 percent shooting from the field.
Hitting The Boards - Michigan State has a Big Ten-best +7.3 rebound margin, ranking eighth in the nation (as of March 24). MSU is 25-4 this season when out-rebounding its opponent, but just 2-4 when failing to do so. In MSU's 27 wins, the Spartans have a +9.1 rebound margin, but are 1-3 when they are out-rebounded. In addition, MSU is 1-1 when tying its opponent on the glass. In 2006-07, MSU posted a +7.0 rebounding margin, outrebounding 24 of 35 opponents while tying three other teams.
Assist-To-Turnover Ratio - For the most part, Michigan State's turnovers are not coming from the point guards, as Drew Neitzel, Travis Walton and Kalin Lucas combine to average just 5.2 turnovers per game. Neitzel leads the Big Ten with a 2.82-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, while Walton ranks second at 2.43-to-1, and Lucas is seventh at 1.87-to-1. In fact, Neitzel ranks eighth in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio, while Walton ranks 22nd (as of March 24). As a team, the Spartans rank second in the Big Ten and 17th in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.28) despite ranking tied for eighth in the league in turnovers.
Neitzel Finalist For Senior CLASS Award - Drew Neitzel is one of 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. The four primary areas of criteria include classroom, community, character and competition. Voting for the award ran through March 23. The fan balloting will be combined with votes from coaches, media and sponsors.
Neitzel Moving Up Scoring List - Drew Neitzel ranks 14th in Michigan State career scoring with 1,528 points. He needs 13 points to pass Chris Hill (1,540 points). Neitzel scored his 1,000th-career point against Marquette in the 2007 NCAA Tournament.
Suton On The Glass - Goran Suton ranks second in the Big Ten in rebounding at 8.2 boards per contest, and third in offensive rebounds (2.86 orpg). In conference games, he ranked second in the league at 8.1 rpg. Earlier this season, Suton grabbed 20 caroms against Oakland, becoming the first Spartan since Kevin Willis in 1983 to record 20 boards in a game. Suton has led the team in rebounding in 21 games. He has 10 games with double-figure rebounds and nine more contests with nine boards. Suton leads the team with eight double-doubles.
A Balanced Scoring Attack - Although just three Spartans are averaging double-figures in scoring (Raymar Morgan - 14.2; Drew Neitzel - 14.1; Kalin Lucas 10.2), Michigan State can get scoring contributions from many different sources. Nine Spartans have scored 10 or more points in a single game this season. Six different players have led MSU in scoring in a single game, including all three true freshmen. In conference play, three Spartans averaged double figures (Morgan - 13.2; Neitzel - 12.6; Lucas - 10.6). In 12 games, four or more Spartans have scored in double figures, as MSU is 12-0 in those contests.
MSU's Block Party - Michigan State ranks fourth in the Big Ten with 4.26 blocks per contest (149 total blocks). Against San Jose State, the Spartans blocked a single-game school-record 13 shots. In 2006-07, Michigan State blocked a school single-season record 162 shots. The 149 blocks rank second in the MSU single-season record books.
Attacking The Offensive Glass - Michigan State grabs 39.6 percent of its own missed shots. The best percentage in Tom Izzo's head coaching career was the 2000-01 squad, which grabbed 47.1 percent of its misses. In five games (Chicago State, ULM, Oakland, Bradley and BYU), the Spartans had more offensive rebounds than their opponent had defensive boards. MSU is averaging 12.3 offensive rebounds per game, and has recorded at least 10 offensive boards in 23 of the 35 contests, including four games with 20 or more offensive rebounds.
MSU's X-Factor - Marquise Gray is a real X-factor for the Spartans in the sense that when he is productive, Michigan State will most always win. Gray has scored in double figures 14 times in his career, and the Spartans are 13-1 in those games. The lone loss came against North Carolina in the 2007 NCAA Tournament, where Gray tallied 11 points. In addition, MSU is 4-0 when Gray grabs 10 or more rebounds and 3-0 when he posts a double-double.
Spartan Depth - Nine different Spartans are averaging 10.8 minutes or more. Drew Neitzel leads the Spartans at 31.7 minutes per game, four fewer than he averaged last season (35.7 mpg), when he played more minutes than any Spartan since 1991.
Finding Success At The Foul Line - Michigan State is shooting .739 from the foul line, ranking second in the Big Ten. The Spartans are averaging 18.4 attempts and 13.6 makes per contest. In the Spartans' eight losses, they have totaled 104 free-throw attempts (13.0 pg), including just four against Iowa. Last season, MSU averaged 19.2 attempts and 13.8 makes. Individually, Raymar Morgan has the most trips to the foul line (174).
High-Octane Offense - Michigan State ranks second in the Big Ten in scoring, averaging 71.1 points per game. The Spartan offense has scored more than 80 points in nine games this season, surpassing last year's number of 80-point games. Last season, MSU scored 80 or more points in just five of 35 contests. Michigan State has scored 75 or more points in 17 games.
Freshmen Contributions - Michigan State has played three true scholarship freshmen (Chris Allen, Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers) this season. The trio is averaging 21.0 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 49.6 minutes.
MSU's Homecourt Win Streak - Michigan State has won 21 straight home games at the Breslin Center, dating back to Feb. 3, 2007, a loss to No. 4 Ohio State. This season, the Spartans were a perfect 17-0 at home, averaging 77.9 points and 50.4 percent shooting. The 21-game home win streak is MSU's longest since it won 53 straight between November 1998 and January 2002. During Tom Izzo's career as head coach, the Spartans are 181-22 (.892) at home, including 158-13 (.924) over the last 11 years.
Dickie V's Coach Of The Week - After leading Michigan State to back-to-back victories away from East Lansing against Bradley and BYU, Tom Izzo was named Coach of the Week by Dick Vitale on his web site on Dec. 10. Vitale wrote "It is never easy to win on the road in college basketball and Izzo led the Spartans to victories at two difficult places."
Playing With Team USA - Raymar Morgan and Drew Neitzel had the opportunity to play for Team USA over the summer. Morgan made the 2007 USA U19 World Championship Team, winning a silver medal at the FIBA U19 World Championships. He started six of the nine contests, averaging 9.2 points (sixth most on the team) and 4.3 rebounds (fourth most). Neitzel made the 2007 USA Pan American Games Team, helping the team to a 3-2 mark. He led Team USA in minutes (29.6 mpg) and assists (2.2 apg), while ranking fifth in scoring (8.2 ppg).
Spartan Opponents In The Polls - Five Michigan State opponents are ranked in the latest The Associated Press Top 25, including No. 3 UCLA, No. 6 Wisconsin, No. 7 Texas and No. 20 Purdue. (Based on March 17 rankings.)
MSU Among Decade's Best - In early May 2007, ESPN.com released a ranking of the top 10 programs of the last 10 years. Michigan State was tied for second in the consensus ranking of five college basketball experts. One of the five voters, Andy Katz, ranked MSU as the top program over the last 10 seasons. In ranking the Spartans at the top of the list, Katz used several supporting arguments including: appearing in a nation's best four Final Fours; winning four Big Ten Championships, two Big Ten Tournament Titles and the 2000 NCAA Championship; 10 straight NCAA Tournament appearances; 10 players selected in the NBA Draft; playing 32 ranked regular-season non-conference opponents; 30 graduates; 145 consecutive home sellouts and a .916 winning percentage at Breslin over the last 10 years.
Spartans In The NBA - Eight former Spartans were on opening day NBA rosters, including Maurice Ager (Dallas Mavericks), Charlie Bell (Milwaukee Bucks), Shannon Brown (Cleveland Cavaliers), Paul Davis (Los Angeles Clippers), Morris Peterson (New Orleans Hornets), Zach Randolph (New York Knicks), Jason Richardson (Charlotte Bobcats) and Eric Snow (Cleveland Cavaliers). Since opening day, Ager has been traded to the New Jersey Nets and Brown has been traded to the Chicago Bulls.
About Texas - Texas, the No. 2 seed in the South, advanced to the Sweet 16 with a 74-54 first round win over No. 15 seed Austin Peay and a second-round victory over No. 7 Miami, 75-72. The Longhorns, who are now 30-6 on the season, finished in a tie for the Big 12 regular-season title with a 13-3 record, but fell to Kansas in the conference tournament title game, 84-74. Texas improved to 31-28 in its 26 trips to the NCAA Tournament.
Texas vs. The Field - Entering the NCAA Tournament, the Longhorns had a 12-4 record against teams in the field of 65. They have beaten two No. 1 seeds (UCLA and Kansas) and a No. 2 seed (Tennessee), while also adding wins against Oklahoma (three times), Baylor (twice), Texas A&M, Kansas State, St. Mary's and Oral Roberts. The four Texas losses have come against Kansas, Wisconsin, Texas A&M and the Spartans.
Common Opponents - Michigan State and Texas have both played against Missouri, UCLA and Wisconsin this season. Against the trio, the Spartans are 1-3, while the Longhorns are 1-2. MSU had their lone win against Missouri, while Texas knocked off UCLA early in the season.
Series History - Michigan State and Texas have split their four all-time meetings, with the Spartans winning the last two seasons. Earlier this season, MSU earned a 78-72 win on Dec. 22 at the Palace of Auburn Hills, and last season, topped the Longhorns, 63-61, during the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic (Nov. 16) at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The two Texas wins came on Nov. 27, 1999 (81-74) and March 30, 2003 (85-76), both on a neutral floor.
Coach Barnes - Rick Barnes (Lenoir-Rhyne `77) is in his 10th season as head coach of Texas and has compiled a 246-92 record in Austin. Barnes has a career record of 448-226, having also been a head coach at Clemson, Providence and George Mason. He has guided his teams to a total of 16 NCAA Tournaments, including a current streak of 13 straight.
Longhorn Notes - Texas is one of only three schools to advance to the Sweet 16 in five of the last seven years, joining Duke and Kansas ... The Longhorns lead the nation with only 9.6 turnovers per game, and also rank eighth in the country with a 1.37 assist-to-turnover ratio ... Texas is holding its opponents to 38.8 percent from the field, standing 10th in the nation ... The Longhorns have outscored their opponents by 11.1 points per game ... Sophomore D.J. Augustin, a USBWA First Team All-American, leads the team and is among the nation's top 50 in both scoring (19.2) and assists (5.8) ... Fellow sophomore Damion James is 11th in the country in rebounding (10.7) and is averaging a double-double, adding 13.2 points per game ... Junior A.J. Abrams is one of the top three-point shooters in the nation, leading the team with 111 made from behind the arc.
About Stanford - Stanford, 28-7 overall, moved onto the Sweet 16 with an opening round win over No. 14 seed Cornell, 77-53, then edged No. 6 Marquette in overtime, 82-81 in the second round. The Cardinal, the No. 3 seed, finished second in the Pac-10 with a 13-5 record and fell to UCLA in the conference tournament final. This year marks the 16th NCAA appearance for Stanford.
Stanford vs. The Field - Stanford is 8-6 against 2008 NCAA Tournament teams entering tournament play. All of its wins have come in Pac-10 play, beating Arizona and Washington State three times each, Oregon and USC. The Cardinal has lost to UCLA three times and on the road at Oregon, Siena and USC.
Common Opponents - Michigan State and Stanford have both played Northwestern and UCLA. The Spartans are 2-1 against the pod with two wins against the Wildcats, while the Cardinal is 1-3, also knocking off Northwestern.
Series History - Michigan State holds a 4-2 advantage over Stanford, but has lost two of the three meetings on a neutral court. In their last meeting, MSU beat Stanford, 78-53 on Dec. 11, 2004 at the Palace of Auburn Hills for their lone neutral-court win. The first meeting came on Dec. 27, 1934 in East Lansing, a 25-18 MSU win.
Coach Johnson - Trent Johnson (Boise State `83) is in his ninth season as a collegiate head coach and his fourth at the helm of the Cardinal. Johnson, the Pac-10 Coach of the Year, boasts a career record of 159-121, including five seasons at Nevada. While at Stanford, Johnson is 80-47 and has qualified for postseason play in each of his four seasons, including three NCAA Tournaments. In NCAA play, he has a 4-3 record, but failed to advance out of the first round in his first two appearances with the Cardinal.
Cardinal Notes - Sophomore twins Robin and Brook Lopez have led the Cardinal all season, combining to average 29.3 points, 13.8 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game ... The pair is a big reason why Stanford is fifth in the country in rebound margin (+8.0), 20th in scoring defense (61.0), 13th in field goal percentage defense (.393) and 23rd in blocks per game (5.2) ... Junior Mitch Johnson leads the team with 180 assists and is 25th in the country with a 2.4 assist-to-turnover ratio ... Brook Lopez was a first team All-Pac-10 selection, while his brother Robin, Johnson and junior Anthony Goods were honorable mention choices ... Robin Lopez was also picked to the Pac-10 All-Defensive Team.
The Book On Tom Izzo
Coach Izzo - In his 13th year, Tom Izzo (Northern Michigan, '77) is 305-129 (.703), and 145-69 (.678) in the Big Ten, as the coach of the Michigan State basketball program. In 2005, he passed Benjamin Van Alstyne to become the second-winningest coach in MSU history, trailing only Jud Heathcote (340) in total wins. In his 12 seasons as a head coach, Izzo has won National Coach of the Year honors four times, including the Clair Bee Award in 2005 and NABC honors in 2001. 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.
Among The Big Ten's Best - Tom Izzo's .678 winning percentage in Big Ten games ranks third all-time among league coaches with at least 10 years of service, behind former Indiana coach Bob Knight (.700) and Purdue's Ward Lambert (.685). In all games, Knight ranks first at .734, followed by Wisconsin's Walter Meanwell (.712), Lambert (.709) and Izzo (.703). With 145 conference victories, Izzo ranks 11th all-time.
Izzo Against Ranked Opponents - In his 13 years of coaching, Tom Izzo is 65-63 against ranked opponents.
Izzo Among Best Ever - Through his first 12 seasons, Tom Izzo won 278 games, ranking ninth in college basketball history for most wins by a college coach in his first 12 years.
Graduating Student-Athletes - In Tom Izzo's 12 full years directing the Spartan program, 82 percent of his players who completed their eligibility also left with a degree. In the last eight years, 27 Spartans have received their undergraduate degrees, including five each in 2001, 2003 and 2007.
Izzo's Coaching Tree - Six current Division I head coaches all served as assistants to Tom Izzo, including Jim Boylen (Utah), Tom Crean (Marquette), Brian Gregory (Dayton), Stan Heath (South Florida), Stan Joplin (Toledo) and Doug Wojcik (Tulsa). Gregory is in his fifth year as head coach, after leaving MSU in the spring of 2003. Crean directed Marquette to the 2003 Final Four, while Heath directed Kent State to the Elite Eight in the 2002 NCAA Tournament. Wojcik is in his third season at Tulsa. Mike Garland served as head coach at Cleveland State for three seasons after leaving Izzo's staff in 2003. He is now back as an assistant coach at MSU. Most recently, Jim Boylen left MSU following the 2007 season, and is in his first season with Utah.