Let's soak this one in for all it's worth, my friends. Here's a selection of what writers from various corners of the internet are saying about our Spartans today.
You've probably heard that Tom Izzo has been to a Final Four or two in his day (six in 12 seasons), and also that the Spartans are listed as early (and slight) underdogs to Butler in their national semifinal. This may not be the scariest group of Spartans that Izzo has brought to one of these deals, but they have certainly become adept at winning shootouts. In this NCAA tournament MSU has scored 284 points in 253 possessions, achieving a level of prowess on offense that they didn't display in the regular season. Then again the Spartans' tournament opponents have scored 271 points over that same stretch of possessions. I draw two conclusions: Michigan State is headed to Indy, and their games are really fun to watch.
A log5 updatePre-tourney
Final4 Champ Final Champ
1S Duke 51.2 24.5 69.6 56.0
2E West Virginia 20.0 3.8 30.4 19.5
5W Butler 5.3 0.5 57.7 15.4
5MW Michigan St. 3.6 0.5 42.3 9.0
This is a log5 table. It's explained here. The "Pre-tourney" columns indicate a team's chances of reaching the Final Four and winning the title as estimated before the tournament began.
If you had this Final Four in your bracket, then you have my sincere congratulations because it had about a 1-in-5000 chance of happening. It’s no surprise that Butler and Michigan State are responsible for the rare figure here. Butler will play the Cinderella card, but the Spartans are the true long shot, surviving the brutal Midwest region without Kalin Lucas for two and a half games.
The Final Four is now set. Here is how each participant has performed in the NCAA tournament:
Adj Off - Adj Def - Team
127.7 - 83.0 - Duke
116.1 - 77.5 - West Virginia
114.5 - 80.6 - Butler
121.8 - 96.4 - Michigan St.
Virtually every stat is better than in the regular season. Again, this isn’t a surprise because these teams have been playing good teams and winning. (When Duke puts up those kind of points against a stout Baylor defense, or when Butler holds an impressive Kansas St. offense to that few points, the adjusted stats are going to look great.)
The one notable exception is Michigan St.’s defense which is much worse than in the regular season. Perhaps this is explained by the loss of Kalin Lucas or the injuries to Chris Allen and Delvon Roe. Regardless, if you believe in picking the hot team, don’t be afraid to choose West Virginia and Butler next weekend.
I've now watched this replay at good 12 times, and I think the referees absolutely made the right call. We can debate all day about whether or not Prince made contact, but Brian Williams absolutely did. If Prince wasn't there and Morgan had been able to go straight up, I bet Williams would have been called for a foul anyway.
The fact of the matter is that he came down full force with his left arm from the peak of his jump and knocked the ball loose with his elbow. Whether there actually was any contact (which I believe there was), the play just looked funny. It looked like it should be a foul. I'm not defending it, and I'm not saying that it is right, but 99 percent of the time a foul is going to be called in that situation.
The Spartans' 70-69 win in the Midwest Regional final against Tennessee will mark Izzo's sixth trip to the NCAA tournament's final weekend. Only John Wooden, Mike Krzyzewski and Dean Smith have more.
Even better, only Wooden and Coach K got to six in a shorter span of time. Wooden's Bruins went to nine straight and 12 between 1962 and 1975 (Gene Bartow also took UCLA there in 1976). Krzyzewski's Devils were in six during a seven-year span and eight between 1986 and 1994.
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo is now tied with Adolph Rupp, Roy Williams and Denny Crum for fourth. They've all been six times.
Advantage: Izzo. Seriously now, can we start to push Izzo's Hall of Fame campaign? What he has done with this squad is simply amazing. The Midwest was supposed to be the most brutal bracket, and to get through you needed a tough squad and a determined coach. Who else but Izzo and the Spartans? This is his sixth Final Four and easily his most rewarding with a depleted crew. Watch Izzo at the end of these NCAA games and he's almost in disbelief that his team has advanced yet another round. Two more and the Spartans will reach their intended preseason goal all along, a path hardly expected by anyone in the program for most of the season.
"[Izzo told me to] be more aggressive and it starts on the defensive end," Summers said. "I think throughout the whole tournament my defense has been on a different level than it was in the beginning of the year, and that's just been able to translate to my offense."
He and the rest of the Spartans discovered just enough offense to subdue the Vols and book a second straight trip to the Final Four. With Lucas yelling encouragement and providing the overt leadership that the Spartans have been searching for most of the year, they persevered -- through close games and through injuries that many thought would derail them. It all made their head coach extremely proud.
"We lost our focus today at times, and I think it was mostly because of fatigue," Izzo said. "We were tired. All in all, it's a hell of an accomplishment for some guys that are just sucking it up."
“I get way too much credit,” Izzo said. “It’s my players.”
Sure, guys like walk-on Mike Kebler, who was on the floor in crunch time having to guard Tennessee’s athletic point guard Bobby Maze.
When a New Mexico State reserve checked into the game in the first round of the tourney and saw Kebler, he laughed and then yelled “iso” at coach Marvin Menzies in an effort to get him the ball in a one-on-one situation.
“The only time I would have guessed I’d have played in an Elite Eight game is if we were up or down 20,” Kebler admitted after the win over the Vols.
Michigan State won 70-69, completing a four-game run to Indy that came by a total of 13 points. It wasn't a miracle so much as something pulled out of Izzo's backside at times.
And not without kickback from players like Green who, at times, can talk better than they can play.
"Towards the beginning of the game, everything I did wrong he yelled at me," Green said. "And I looked at him like, 'Am I allowed to make a mistake?'"
"Not at this time of year," Izzo shot back.
A few more links, sans blockquoting:
Newsflash: Tom Izzo is really, really good - College Basketball Nation Blog - ESPN
Izzo on Oregon rumors: No one's contacted him. Solid response with no hint of interest. (Video at bottom.)
Manny Harris Will Enter NBA Draft | UM Hoops.com
Maybe the best thing for Beilein in the long run. Gives him a pure rebuilding year with reduced expectations.
Latimer takes Jefferson for a ride to the championship
Adreian Payne is a state champ. Shoulder surgery today.
Butler: Newcomer to late-night revelry | freep.com | Detroit Free Press
Jud is going to Indy. (HT: robb)
U-D coach Ray McCallum: Butler will beat MSU | detnews.com | The Detroit News
Says key for MSU is to attack Matt Howard inside.
A Sunday Morning Special: The Butler Bulldogs and Lucas Oil Stadium - Stampede Blue
Lucas Oil just 6 miles from Hinkle Fieldhouse.
The Mid-Majority : The Way Back Home
Kyle Whelliston on the Butler Way.