Connect with us


Does Tom Izzo need second national title to cement legacy?

Second title or not, Tom Izzo is a legend.



Tom Izzo

Tom Izzo is a Hall of Famer and one of the best college basketball coaches in the nation, but does he need that second title?

Tom Izzo’s second national title… he wants it, the fans want it, the players want it, basically everyone involved in MSU athletics wants it. It has been a talking point for as long as I can remember; when will Izzo get his second title to cement himself as one of the best college coaches of all time?

Izzo boasts a career record of 678-271, good for a .714 win percentage. He may not be in the top 20 in career wins, but the thing that stands out for Izzo is that he has done it all at Michigan State. He was thrown into the gauntlet from day one as a head coach with no prior head coaching experience at any mid-majors to help boost his win percentage.

Career records and accomplishments speak for themselves, but there has always been an argument saying he needs another national title to cement himself as one of the best to ever do it.

I disagree, however. Izzo has already done plenty to prove he is one of the best of all time.

First off, Izzo has the most career wins at one single Big Ten school of all time. He trails Bob Knight in career conference wins, but I would dare say he breaks that record as well before it’s all said and done. Izzo also holds one national title, eight Final Fours, 10 regular-season Big Ten titles, six conference tournament championships, and a current streak of 24 straight NCAA tournament appearances. While these are just the team accolades, Izzo has also been awarded national coach of the year twice, and Big Ten coach of the year three times.

I think all of those accolades are enough to cement Izzo as an all-time great, but there is still that nagging second national championship. I believe that is an invalid argument due to the fact that winning a national title is statistically so challenging to do.

Let me break this down.

Hypothetically, imagine the Spartans are the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament, meaning they would be “favored” in every game they play. The first game is against the 16 seed, giving the team about a 99 percent chance to win. The second game will be against the 8-9 seed, being generous I’ll say an 80 percent chance to win that one. Reaching the Sweet 16, things get significantly harder. Going strictly chalk, the next game would be against a No. 4 seed, and being generous I would pin that at a 65 percent chance to win. The Elite Eight would be against the No. 2 seed, so let’s say it’ll be a 55 percent chance to win. Following that is the Final Four against another No. 1 seed — maybe a 52 percent chance to win. Finally, the national title game against the second-best No. 1 seed, probably a 51 percent chance to win to keep things clean.

Looking at this from a purely mathematical perspective, this would give the hypothetical best team in college basketball a 7.5 percent chance of winning the whole thing, and I feel as if the percentages I gave were quite generous. Adding on to this, it is not very often that Michigan State receives a No. 1 seed, with their last one post-2001 coming in 2012, so the mathematical odds are generally much worse.

Stepping away from a mathematical perspective, basketball is also such a strange game. The NCAA tournament’s win-and-advance format promotes chaos. Any given player on any given team can get the hot hand one night and carry their team to a win. I won’t point out specific games to avoid negative feelings, but Spartan fans know this to be true more than any other collegiate fanbase. We’ve also had our moments as well, most recently the Final Four run as a No. 7 seed fueled by the elite play of Travis Trice.

With all of this being said, the NCAA tournament is incredibly difficult to win and that’s why you don’t see the same schools and the same coaches winning it time and time again. Success can be measured by things other than national titles (i.e. everything I’ve pointed out in recent paragraphs).

Let’s not forget that the players we are dealing with aren’t professionals. These are kids who are trying to figure out more than just how to win basketball games in college.

Something also needs to be said about the relationships with current and former players. Yes, a coach’s job is to win games, but Izzo will be the first to tell you that coaching goes much further than the results on a basketball court. The long-lasting relationships that Tom Izzo has created with his players and the fact that Spartan fans always see former players showing love for Izzo and constantly coming back to campus should speak volumes in cementing Izzo as one of the best and most influential coaches in college basketball history.


Has Michigan State basketball had the “perfect” offseason so far?

The MSU basketball offseason has felt so much better than football’s.



Michigan State basketball
© Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Unlike the football program so far, Michigan State basketball has had an impressive, almost perfect offseason.

Anything is possible in today’s college basketball world. We have seen some crazy things with the one-time transfer rule and NIL in full effect. Star players like Hunter Dickinson are transferring to powerhouse programs like Kansas and some players are leaving the schools they love just to chase money. We are even seeing incoming freshman reopening their recruitments in June.

I’ll say it again, anything is possible in college basketball today. It seems nearly impossible for a program to have a perfect offseason nowadays. Whether they want their players to stay or they need to get a high-profile transfer to join their team, no program gets everything they want. However, I would argue that Michigan State basketball has had the perfect offseason, or as close to it as reasonably possible.

No key players transferring to new programs

As I mentioned before, star players in a great positions at their programs are still deciding to transfer. Almost every program has someone significant decide to leave the program. Thankfully for Michigan State, that did not happen this season.

Pierre Brooks is the only player to transfer to a new program when he decided to take his talents to Butler. I never like seeing players leave the program, but I think everyone saw this coming. Brooks would have struggled to make the rotation again this year, so it makes sense for him to find a better fit somewhere else.

The transfer portal can be a scary thing, but the Spartans survived it this year.

Players deciding early to return

Whether it be deciding to enter the transfer portal or go pro, some athletes take a long time to make their final decision. Michigan State, on the other hand, got a lot of good news early this offseason. Both Malik Hall and Tyson Walker announced they were returning to Michigan State early on in the offseason.

Both could have attempted to go the pro route. However, both didn’t even tempt those waters. Arguably Michigan State’s best player and this past season’s sixth man are coming back for another year and that’s massive.

Players withdrawing from the NBA draft

Jaden Akins and AJ Hoggard both entered their name into the NBA Draft. I thought it was possible for Akins to keep his name in the draft, but nobody ever knows what a player will decide to do. All it takes is one team to promise they will draft them and that player could be gone. Thankfully for Michigan State, that did not happen to either player. Both Akins and Hoggard announced their return to Michigan State on May 31 much to all Spartan fans’ delight.

Incoming freshmen class

To round out the perfect offseason, Michigan State’s elite freshmen class has stayed intact. This class is No. 5 in the country and is bringing in four players who can contribute from day one.

Once players sign, usually that means the drama is over. That, however, is not the case anymore. A decent amount of players have asked to be released from their commitments to their program, including one top player who decommitted from Kansas on June 3. With all of Michigan State’s returning production, this could have been possible for one of our incoming freshmen. Thankfully again, this did not occur to the Spartans, and the class has remained committed.

The one negative you could argue

There is one negative thing you could argue that happened to Michigan State this offseason. That is Joey Hauser deciding to go pro and not return to Michigan State basketball for a final season.

Like Brooks, I think most expected this, but I can’t deny how amazing it would have been to have him back again next year. However, who knows what could have happened if he did return. Maybe another player decides to transfer because there aren’t enough minutes to go around. Maybe an incoming freshman decides he’d be better off somewhere else. Nobody knows what would have happened if Joey came back. With all the positives that occurred this offseason, I am fine with Hauser deciding to leave the program.

Michigan State has everything to play for next season. A conference title, Final Four, and national championship are all very realistic. Michigan State will likely be a top-five team in the country to start the season, and that is thanks to a near-perfect offseason for the program.

Continue Reading


Michigan State basketball: AJ Hoggard earns high praise from Malik Hall (Video)

Malik Hall had nothing but good things to say about AJ Hoggard.



Michigan State basketball
© Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Michigan State basketball got some good news this week and Malik Hall is more than happy to have AJ Hoggard back.

In a recent interview with Justin Spiro, Malik Hall spoke in detail about AJ Hoggard. He discussed how great of a person he is on and off the court and how there are a lot of misconceptions about him from Michigan State basketball fans.

Here is a two-minute clip from that interview where Hall talks about AJ.

The star point guard AJ Hoggard dealt with a lot of criticism from the Spartan fanbase this season. Nobody plays great every game, and I think our fans mostly understand that.

The thing that bothered some of our fans however was Hoggard’s body language in the games in which he was struggling. Instead of staying positive, some fans criticized him for seemingly not trying or caring during his struggles.

AJ Hoggard: The leader

Malik Hall is here to tell you that none of that is true. Hall explained how this opinion from fans is the furthest thing from the truth. Malik mentioned that even though AJ’s face looks like he doesn’t care, that is not how he feels at all. That’s great to hear about your starting point guard and one of the leaders of the team. Guys look to AJ for leadership and motivation, so if they see negative body language from him they are likely to mirror that. So even though AJ sometimes looks like he is checked out on the court, it’s nice to know that the rest of the team doesn’t feel that way.

Malik also went on to share that AJ is one of the nicest and most genuine guys he knows. He considers Hoggard to be one of his best friends not just on the team, but in his life. Hall mentioned that AJ is the first guy to text you when you are struggling with something outside of basketball.

That’s the best type of leader in my opinion. Someone who pushes you to be great on the court but always makes sure you are okay off the court.

Sophomore guard Tre Holloman responded to this tweet on Twitter agreeing with what Hall said.

The next time you think AJ looks out of it in a game, remember this interview. Remember that Malik Hall mentioned that nobody on the team feels this way and they all know that how AJ truly feels doesn’t match the “AJ face.”

Continue Reading


Writer says there’s a huge gap between Purdue and Michigan State basketball

This seems like a wild claim.



Michigan State basketball
© Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Gregg Doyel of the Indy Star claims that Purdue is “historically loaded” and there’s a huge gap between them and Michigan State basketball.

With the news of Jaden Akins and AJ Hoggard returning along with Tyson Walker and Malik Hall to go along with the No. 4 recruiting class in the country, Michigan State basketball went from a conference title contender to a national title contender.

Essentially everyone who follows college basketball has Michigan State as a top-five team and right there in the Big Ten as 1B to Purdue’s 1A — some even have it the other way around.

The Spartans bring back everyone but Joey Hauser to a team that went to the Sweet 16 and Purdue returns national player of the year Zach Edey to a Big Ten title team. Both teams are loaded and should be at the top of everyone’s list when it comes to national title contention.

But one Indy Star writer believes that Purdue is “historically loaded” and the talent-and-depth gap between the Boilermakers and “everyone else” is as large as he’s seen in years. Just a wild claim.

Gregg Doyel cites a solid incoming class to go along with Edey returning and the two freshmen guards with another year in the system. But he fails to recognize that Michigan State got even better. The Spartans are bringing in an even better recruiting class and they return their 2-3 most talented players from a year ago. The only loss is Hauser.

Saying that this year’s Purdue team is far-and-away the most talented and deepest team in the Big Ten and the gap is the biggest it’s been in years is asinine. There was a much larger gap last year.

Michigan State will go toe-to-toe with the Boilermakers and as long as Edey can be neutralized, the Spartans will have a chance to take them down for the Big Ten crown.

It’s tough to say a team like Michigan State basketball that’s 11-12 guys deep is not nearly as talented or deep as Purdue, but hey, let’s put that early chip on the shoulder.

Continue Reading