Michigan State Spartans head men's basketball coach Tom Izzo earned his seventh trip to the Final Four with a 76-70 overtime win over the Louisville Cardinals in the Elite Eight on March 29.
Tom Izzo is going to the Final Four. Again.
Buy Now: Sony PlaysStation VR In Stock Here
According USA Today's Chris Chase, this is Izzo's seventh Final Four appearance since 1999, the most of any college basketball coach during that span. Izzo accomplished the feat after his Michigan State Spartans beat the Louisville Cardinals in overtime, 76-70, in their Elite Eight matchup on March 29.
Chase notes Izzo earned his seventh trip to the Final Four despite a lineup that does not feature superstars, although swingman Branden Dawson wound up in the Big Ten All-Second Team while guards Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine made the Third Team.
Izzo's closest pursuer is the North Carolina Tar Heels' Roy Williams with five Final Four appearances. The Florida Gators' Billy Donovan has four, including two consecutive national titles, per USA Today.
Chase stresses the Spartans were hardly the team they are now when they sported a 13-7 record with a 4-3 mark in the Big Ten several months ago. Now, they have turned things around, beating the top teams in the country.
With the win over Louisville, Michigan State now has won eight of its last nine games to improve to 27-11 overall, per MLive.com's Mike Griffith.
For Izzo, "March is like a night with Cinderella (the real one, not the NCAA tourney underdogs), except the carriage doesn't turn back into a pumpking after one night. It waits until the Final Four," says Chase.
The Spartans had to climb out of a 40-32 hole at halftime against the Cardinals on Sunday. Griffith says Gavin Schilling's two free throws sparked a 10-0 spurt which was eventually punctuated by a Bryn Forbes triple to put Michigan State in the lead. He hit another three-pointer at the beginning of overtime to put his team ahead to stay.
Izzo spoke with Griffith about his latest Final Four berth, giving credit to his staff and making references to his past successful Spartans teams:
"If I said it was the best (Final Four run) ever, I'd have Mateen Cleaves calling and threatening me tonight. If I say it was the most surprising I'll have Kalin (Lucas) and them (2009 team) call me, and if I say it was my favorite, Day Day (Draymond Green, 2010 Final Four) will be mad at me for no longer than life.
"Alan Anderson just texted me last night and he was part of '05 (Final Four), and if he wouldn't have gotten hurt we had a chance to win it that year, so they were all kind of different in a lot of ways. I think this was the most improbable because the team had lost some games, and they've gone through some things.
"But unlike 2010, where maybe the route to the Final Four was a little easier because some teams got upset, this team played the 2, the 3, the 4 seed, and to me (the) Georgia (Bulldogs) was a very good team just as worthy as those other three I just mentioned.
"I think we have had to make more adjustments than any team I've ever been with. We've had to re-invent ourselves a little bit, and that's where I give my staff credit, because they've done a helluva job."
Izzo now gets his chance to redeem his past shortcomings in the Final Four. With the exception of the Spartans' national title in 2000, they are just 1-6 in the Final Four with Izzo at the Helm, per Chase.
Michigan State has been to nine Elite Eight appearances and 13 Sweet 16s since 1998, per USA Today.
Izzo has amassed a 494-198 (.714) head-coaching record in his 20 seasons as Michigan State Spartans head men's basketball coach, per Sports-Reference.com.
Don't Miss: See the first leaked Black Friday 2016 Ad
Make sure to log on to I4U News for the latest trends and developments for the geek mind.