Tom Izzo: “We Went From The Ugly Ducking To The Prom Queen”

Lauren Walson/College Spun

Lauren Walson/College Spun

It’s been a long season for Tom Izzo and Michigan State. The Spartans, widely considered one of the elite programs in the country before the 2013-2014 campaign began, got off to a great start, knocking off then-No. 1 Kentucky back in November. They ran their record up to 18-1 at one point, with the lone loss coming to a dangerous North Carolina squad. On January 25th, MSU was ranked No. 3 in the nation with a 7-0 record in the Big Ten. 

But the wheels soon fell off, mostly due to injuries. Spartans stars Adreian Payne, Keith Appling, Branden Dawson and Gary Harris all suffered different ailments. Izzo had to shuffle lineups on seemingly a nightly basis. The result was a 5-6 record down the stretch of Big Ten play, including two losses to hated rival Michigan.

But as the NCAA Tournament approaches, morale has never been higher in East Lansing. Izzo’s squad is back healthy (mostly), and after a Big Ten Tournament title run, analysts are once again picking the Spartans as a favorite for the national title. During Izzo’s press conference before their second round matchup with Delaware later this week, the head coach summed it up about as efficiently as possible.

It remains to be seen whether Michigan State will live up to its new (old) expectations. Either way, I think we can all agree that Izzo has done a great job keeping his squad in the conversation.

Unis

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Matt is a Co-Founder at College Spun. He can be reached at matt@collegespun.com.