East Lansing, MI
About 6:30 PM on Friday night Tom Izzo and his (as of right now) #2 Michigan State Spartans will tip off at the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis. For years the regular season in many other conferences hasn’t mattered. That may shock some of you but even in the ACC, teams like Duke and North Carolina celebrate the tournament title with far more veracity than the regular season.
Just ask yourself how many times you have seen a Izzo led team head into the post season like last year (in mid-February some questioned if they would make the tournament) only to garner post season accolades, over regular season glory? So as the post season dominance of Tom Izzo continues to be what has grown to legendary status, has the regular season started to lose its glitter in East Lansing? Forget about it according to Izzo.
“Well it’s still the same to me, because I guess I’ve been here through the times when it really did matter. I still think of my first couple meetings when Bob (Knight) and Gene (Keady) and Clem (Haskins) and those guys, you know, wanted to make sure that we never lost (Importance of regular season). Didn’t like the Big Ten tournament because don’t want to lose. There’s still something about the 18-game grind. The problem is, the 18-game grind has been altered because of who you play once, who you play twice, where you play them and all those things. And so it’s hard to feel quite the same about it. But it’s still (Regular season title) a heck of an accomplishment. I mean for Indiana to be, are they one or two games up on everybody? Two games up on everybody, that’s still a hell of an accomplishment. And has some of the lust been taken away? I don’t think so, because I still would rather accomplish something over 18 games than over three. So I still think it’s bigger. If you look at the ACC, if you look at what the Big East used to be, it seems the tournament became bigger than the regular season. I’m not sure I’ll ever feel that way, just because you’ve got to be on your game so many games to accomplish that.”
So the Spartan may not have the championship hardware of a regular season title, but they begin a quest Friday for another Big Ten Tournament title, a NCAA #1 seed and Tom Izzo’s second national title.
The Spartans will be facing either Penn State or Ohio State. In both cases they have blown out each team twice this season. The game will tip on BTN. The Spartans last won the Big Ten Tournament in 2014 versus arch rival Michigan.