March 15, 2009
VIDEO: Friday in Minneapolis perfect says Izzo
EAST LANSING - Michigan State players, coaches, and everybody else involved with the Spartan basketball program expressed excitement about the No. 2 seed they received from the NCAA tournament selection committee and the location of their first round game in Minneapolis.
The Spartans are excited to be playing basketball in Big Ten Country this Friday. They are even more excited to not be playing a Big Ten opponent.
"I think the Friday for us is perfect," said Izzo. "Minneapolis is a good town. We've had some success there and I am pleased with where we are."
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said he has film of each of the games played by the Spartans' first-round opponent Robert Morris. The Colonials finished the season with a 24-10 record and a 15-2 record in the NEC.
"I am happy with where we are and who we play," said Izzo. "I don't know a whole lot about Robert Morris right now other than I watched them play the other day. I will know a lot more in a couple of hours. I have seen the other teams in our bracket, especially Boston College. I have seen USC a little bit. When you start seeing some of those 7, 8, and 9's and 10's, there are a lot of great teams there two.
Michigan State junior Raymar Morgan knows more about Robert Morris than most of his Spartan teammates as one of Morgan's former AAU basketball teammates Jimmy Langhurst plays for the Colonials. Lanhurst is one over three players to average double figures for the Colonials this season.
With their selection to the 2009 NCAA tournament, Michigan State extended its streak of consecutive tournament appearances to 12. The Spartans' streak ranks fourth among college basketball programs. Only Arizona (25), Kansas (20), and Duke (14) have made more consecutive tournament appearances than Michigan State.
Michigan State is the highest seeded team from the Big Ten in the tournament field.
The Spartans are one of teams from the conference in the field of 64. Penn State was snubbed by tournament selection committee. Purdue, Illinois, Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota join the Spartans in the NCAA tournament field. Michigan is making their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1998.
The Big Ten, Big East, and the ACC each had 7 teams selected to the tournament field. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening was the selection of Arizona, which most felt would miss the tournament altogether.
"I am happy the Big Ten got seven teams in," said Izzo. "I feel for Penn State. And yet I understand some of the things that have happened and there are some pretty good teams that didn't make it. I still thought that Florida would be one to get in. But all in all, I am just happy we are in, we are where we are. Get up there with there with Brian Gregory and see what we can do."
Gregory's Dayton team is the No. 11 seed in the Midwest Regional. Gregory is one of two former Spartan assistant coaches with a team in the Big Dance. Second-year Utah coach Jimmy Boylen is also in the Midwest Regional. Boylen's No. 5 seed Utah faces Arizona in Miami, Fla.
Prior to their loss in the semifinal of the Big Ten tournament, Michigan State was thought to be one of the teams that would be under consideration for a No. 1 seed.
The Spartans' loss to Ohio State last Saturday tarnished the Spartans' resume slightly. But Izzo believes that his team not only can but will rebound from their semifinal exit.
"It is hard to look past the next game to anything if you come off not playing quite as well in the last two games," said Izzo. "But I think the good thing will be for our young guys and everybody else that when you start preaching one-and-done time it is easy to preach it but you have to go through it. After watching the tape, we didn't not play great defensively against them when you look at how many points they scored. But there is no question when I watched tape today, we had good shots. We really did. We missed some shots. From what I hear and I didn't see it, Purdue had some good shots against them in the first half and missed them. They made them in the second half. That is kind of the way it goes. All in all, I know where we are, and we still have some work to do," explained Izzo. "We have a good three or four days. I think the Friday and Sunday will be good for us."
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