The Michigan State Spartans are one of college basketball’s elite programs. The Spartans have been to the NCAA Tournament 29 times. They have been to the Sweet Sixteen 19 times, including 13 since 1998. The have been to the Elite Eight 13 times, including the last two and nine since 1999. Michigan State has been to the Final Four nine times, seven of those since 1999. The Spartans have won the NCAA Tournament twice (1979 and 2000) and played in the National Championship Game three times.
Some of the great players to play for Michigan State include Magic Johnson, Scott Skiles, Mateen Cleaves, Steve Smith, Jay Vincent, Morris Peterson, Sam Vincent, Kevin Willis, Greg Kelser, Eric Snow, Zach Randolph, Draymond Green and many, many more.
The Spartans are led by legendary head coach Tom Izzo, who took over in 1995 for another legend in Jud Heathcote. The Spartans have had only two coaches since 1976. When Heathcote took over, the Spartans had made only two NCAA Tournament appearances. When Izzo took over the Spartans had won one NCAA Tournament, but had made the Final Four only twice and the Sweet Sixteen only six times. So while Heathcote got things started, Izzo has been one of the all-time great coaches in college basketball history.
The 1979 NCAA Championship was one of the most important in the history of basketball, not just college basketball. It pitted Magic Johnson and the Spartans against Larry Bird and the unbeaten Indiana State Sycamores. This is still one of the most watched games in NCAA history and set the stage for one of sport’s greatest rivalries that would carry over into the NBA for the next decade between Johnson’s Los Angeles Lakers and Bird’s Boston Celtics. Those two teams won eight NBA Championships and put the NBA into the top of American sports.
The 2000 NCAA Championship won with Mateen Cleaves, Morris Peterson and the “Flint Stones” was one of the tournament’s greatest teams. The Spartans dominated that NCAA Tournament, winning all six games by double digits, including the Championship Game over the Florida Gators with future NBA players such as Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller and Matt Bonner 89-76.
Since then, the Spartans have gone to the Final Four five times, many times as a low seed that gets on a great run through the tournament. Other high seeds hate to see the Spartans in their brackets now, because no matter how low they are seeded, they are a Final Four contender.
The Breslin Center is the home of the Spartans since 1989. The Breslin Center seats nearly 15,000 Spartans basketball fans each home game. The student section, known as the “Izzone” makes up much of the lower level seating and creates one of the best atmospheres in the sport. The pep band is also one of the best in college basketball and helps create the perfect tone for the games.
Michigan State plays in the Big Ten, which might be the best conference in all of college basketball. Teams such as Maryland, Ohio State, Indiana, Michigan, Purdue, Wisconsin, Illinois, Rutgers, Nebraska and more make up this great basketball conference. Many of these teams will appear in the NCAA Tournament.
With these great games in one of college basketball’s best venues in the Breslin Center, you will not want to miss out on any of the fantastic college basketball action.
image courtesy of msuspartans.com