Sunday, March 15, 2015

Playing with house money

It was the most satisfying basketball victory of the least so far.

MSU's 62-58 comeback win over Maryland reminded this fan of the great Tom Izzo-coached teams of the past. The game that immediately came to mind was the 1999 Elite Eight win over heavily favored Kentucky. The Spartans overcame a 17-4 deficit, fought and clawed back, and beat the Wildcats 73-66.  Against the Terrapins yesterday, the Spartans overcame deficits of 12-1 and 23-7 to come back, repeatedly punch Maryland in the mouth, and render the Terps wounded and defeated. It was a script followed by many great Izzo teams in the past.

There was a resilience and resolve in yesterday's performance that I've rarely seen this season. It's a testament to the greatness of Tom Izzo and his uncanny ability to mold and shape a basketball team through the course of a season.

As a fan who has endured more nailbiting close games than I can even count this season, I decided to simply turn off my emotions as much as possible yesterday and simply let the game unfold. It made for a less harrowing experience.

Now the Spartans are playing with house money. I don't expect MSU to beat Wisconsin in today's tournament championship, but neither would I be shocked if it happened. As we've come to expect, Izzo has the team playing its best basketball when it matters most and almost anything seems possible.

Beating Wisconsin will be a tall order, as they are clearly the class of the Big Ten. Frank Kaminsky should be national player of the year. The guy can beat you in so many ways: great post player with nimble moves who can also shoot from the perimeter. The Badgers also have a great supporting cast in Koenig, Dekker, Hayes, and Gasser.

Still, I love how MSU is coming around in March. They may not have enough to knock off Wisconsin, but the game should certainly be interesting.

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