Shockingly, people have big opinions on Tom Izzo, and that includes opposing players.
After the Elite Eight, the Athletic published the results of an anonymous survey of NCAA college basketball players. Among other things, the players were asked who they believe is the best player in the nation, the most overrated; who they would most like to play for, and least like to play for.
In a bit of perfection, Izzo ended up on a pair of lists. The Michigan State head coach received the second most votes when players were asked “which coach other than your own would you most like to play for?” Izzo received 6.4 percent of the 110 players questioned. It was a distant second to Mike Krzyzewski.
“Tom Izzo. That guy is awesome,” one player responded. “The way he gets fired up. He has that kind of swagger, fire, you like.”
Oddly enough, the exact same amount of players want nothing to do with Izzo. The MSU head coach again finished second, this time tied with two other coaches, for the head coach players would least like to play for.
Izzo wasn’t alone in being featured on both lists. Kentucky head coach John Calipari, who finished percentage points behind Izzo on the most desired list, was among those tied at 6.4 percent for least desirable coach. Krzyzewski also received votes on the negative list.
Just to further confuse things, Rick Pitino was among the coaches receiving votes for coaches players least wanted to play for. The former Louisville head coach hasn’t been employed in a year and-a-half.
Of course, the timing of this poll may have had something to do with Izzo being featured so highly on the negative list.
“The Michigan State coach,” one player said. “Just because I saw on [sic] video on him.”
Izzo wasn’t the only member of the Michigan State program to be mentioned in the survey. Cassius Winston received the second most votes for “most underrated player in college basketball” within two percentage points of top choice Corey Davis Jr.
“[Winston] does so many things for his team.” one voter said. “They need a bucket, he gets it for them. Underrated defensively. Super quick. Good penetrator.”
Winston had a teammate on the same list. In the “also receiving multiple votes” category was senior Matt McQuaid.
The survey revealed a number of interesting results. Most notably was how players felt about receiving more benefits for playing. When asked which rule change they would most like to see implemented, over 49 percent responded that players should be paid. That number rises even higher when combined with other responses, including owning their own likeness and paying for families to travel during the NCAA Tournament.
And before anyone can say that the players are getting paid, 96 players responded that neither they nor their family has ever been offered money by a coach, agent or runner. Only three players responded that they had and 11 didn’t respond to the question.