Why the Spartans Will Win It All…

Posted by rtmsf on March 31st, 2010

We asked writers from each of the four Final Four schools to provide us with a persuasive article on why their team will win it all this coming weekend.  Joey Nowak of the State News tells us that Michigan State has one x-factor that no other school can claim: Tom Izzo. 

In picking a national champion, you can crunch every number and compare every statistic you can find. You can weigh records, odds, matchups and the history books. Champs have been chosen from everything — jerseys, mascots, school colors, height and weight, birthdays and signs of the zodiac. But the reason Michigan State will be the team cutting down the nets at Lucas Oil Stadium on Monday night can be spelled out in four letters.


Izzo Approaching Some Rarefied Air

The Michigan State head coach’s middle name is March. No one prepares like Izzo and his staff, no one is better on a two-day tournament turnaround and, thus, no team is ever more prepared for the NCAA Tournament than an Izzo-coached squad.  Players buy into his philosophies (defense, toughness and rebounding produce the No. 1 rebounding and No. 58 field-goal defense in the nation) and his promise of “You get me through the first game, I’ll get you through the second” rings true on a perennial basis.

Speaking of crunching stats, let’s do these: Izzo has led the Spartans to a remarkable 16-3 record in the second game of an NCAA Tournament weekend. (For those keeping score at home, that national title game everyone is talking about? That’s the second game of an NCAA Tournament weekend.)  It’s a well-known fact in the college basketball community that no other program has reached six Final Fours in the last 12 years, but it’s also crucial to note that only Izzo, UCLA’s John Wooden and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski have led any team on such a run in history.

Izzo is 35-11 in the Big Dance, good for second in winning percentage among active coaches (he passed Roy Williams with two wins this weekend) and he’s nipping on Krzyzewski’s heels for the number one spot. Should the Spartans win the title, Izzo will be the top dog.  There’s a phrase that is thrown around East Lansing that the “players play the game” and it comes down to nothing else. But with Izzo at their back, these players turn their hopes and dreams over to the man in green and he works his magic.

More Hardware Coming Back to East Lansing (LSJ/R. Sanford)

Some are calling this Izzo’s greatest coaching performance — reaching the Final Four without MSU’s leading scorer and point guard (Kalin Lucas), with their best perimeter defender (Chris Allen) hobbling with a torn ligament in his right foot and an explosive forward (Delvon Roe) playing through “ridiculous” pain with a torn meniscus in his right knee.  No question it’s up there. And with a Final Four field that has been as open as any in recent memory and a national title up for grabs, why not side with the man who continues to prove doubters wrong?


rtmsf (3954 Posts)

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7 responses to “Why the Spartans Will Win It All…”

  1. tallguy says:

    “he’s nipping on Krzyzewski’s heels for the number one spot. ”

    Need to clarify that you’re talking about winning %, because Izzo has quite a far ways to go to catch K (or Roy) in wins (75-22 vs 35-11).

  2. rtmsf says:

    Clarified. Good catch there.

  3. David says:

    It’s odd that you (and pretty much every sports writer) give so much to Izzo and sort of discount Coach K in this final four. Coach Izzo is a fantastic coach in March, but the stats you gave for why he is so great also apply to Coach K. The only other active coach to reach 6 final fours in 12 years: Coach K. The only active coach with a better winning percentage in the tournament than Izzo: Coach K. Coach K has more final fours, more championships and a more talented team this year (with Michigan State sans Lucas) so I’m not sure why Izzo is the trump card in this final four when there is a decent chance he will have to go against Coach K.

  4. jstevrtc says:

    1) This was a piece about why Michigan State will win the championship. The introductory paragraph states that each team will have something written about them by one of the local sportswriters. When it comes Duke’s turn, I’m pretty sure the greatness of Krzyzewski will be noted. But what Coach K has or has not done is not necessarily relevant to the discussion as to why MSU can win the title. Just because he’s not mentioned doesn’t mean he’s being disrespected. No disrespect intended toward you or our pro-Duke readers, but not all college basketball discussion is filtered through a “What does this have to do with Duke?” lens.

    2) I don’t feel that this writer discounted Coach K anywhere in this article. He even mentions him and gives him credit in the middle of it for the six-in-twelve achievement. Don’t understand the problem, there.

    I hope Mr. Nowak, as the writer of the article, will return to respond to any comments or questions. What I’ve written above is my opinion, not his, so I don’t mean to speak for him.

    Thanks for the comment, and for reading. We appreciate all input.

    John Stevens

  5. David says:

    I wanted to wait until the Duke post was put up to respond. Literally the only mention of Coach K is ” I’m pretty sure Mike Krzyzewski has been here before, though.” You had an entire article on how great Izzo is (using statistics that Coach K wins anyway) and sort of discount Coach K. I’m not saying that you are disrespecting Coach K, just that I think it’s interesting that so many sportswriters have focused on how impressive Izzo has been recently (which he has been) and how that is going to be such an advantage in this tournament while kind of putting Coach K in the background. I guess I was wondering if this is just a case of what have you done for me lately or what?

  6. rtmsf says:

    David – I think that’s part of it. K has had a period of relative down years for him, but there’s no question that his run from about 1986-1994 was pure dominance, as close to Wooden as we’ve seen. Izzo is now putting together a run that approaches K’s from that period, but it’s not quite there yet. That said, Duke is the favorite, and if K cuts down the nets for the 4th time to equal Rupp for second all-time, there will be more glowing praise thrown his way than we’ve ever seen. There’s no disrespect around here for Coach K, though. He’s clearly one of the top 3-5 coaches of all-time, and could end up #2 before he’s done.

  7. David says:

    Fair enough. I just thought that the coverage around this final four for Izzo and Coach K was interesting, especially in light of the perceived Duke bias in the media. I appreciate your response. Keep up the great work, I love the site

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