'It doesn't get any better than this': Izzo says MSU excited for Sweet 16 at the Garden vs. K-State
NEW YORK (FOX 2) - Tom Izzo has led the Michigan State Spartans to the Sweet 16 for the 15th time in his career. He'll be playing at the World's Most Famous arena against the top seed in the bracket in the Kansas State Wildcats.
Since Izzo first took the head coaching job at MSU in 1998, the Spartans have made it out of the first weekend 15 times. This year, they're the underdog as the No. 7 seed facing the No. 3 Wildcats in the East Region semifinal. The winner in the land grant battle on the hardwood goes to the Elite 8, the loser goes home.
Last week, MSU outlasted Marquette with a 69-60 win by forcing 16 turnovers to make it to the sweet 16.
With a chance at another Elite 8, Izzo says the team is ready for the big stage at the Garden.
"Madison Square Garden in the Sweet 16, it doesn't get better than that unless you can play next week (in the Final Four)". Izzo said.
The last time the Spartans were in New York, they lost to Rutgers 61-55. Izzo says they're not looking back at that loss as anything more than a loss.
COLUMBUS, OHIO - MARCH 17: Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans reacts against the USC Trojans during the second half in the first round game of the NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament at Nationwide Arena on March 17, 2023 in Columbus, Ohio
"Those things don't bother me, I'm not superstitious, I don't wear the same shirt, ties, whatever else. I'm not a superstitious guy – we didn't play as well but that's because we didn't play well. There's other games where we didn't play well at home. I don't think it had anything to do with the arena. We love the arena. We'll be happy to be here."
As for K-State, who has two stars in guard Markquis Nowell and forward Keyontae Johnson, Izzo says going in against a team with talented guards isn't new for the Spartans in this tournament.
"He's your size but he's dynamite. He's a very good player but we have the guards to cover him. THat's been the difference in the tournament. Each one of these games (vs Marquette and USC), they've had great guards," he said. "HOpefully we can meet the challenge."
MSU's defense has been the highlight of the season and first two games of the tournament. Izzo says the offense has been good too and a game where both the offense and the defense shine would be huge for the Spartans.
"Our offense has been good a lot of the year, especially the past month. I got a feeling our offense - we're gonna put it together one of these games and if we do, then we'll be pretty good," Izzo said.
Michigan State vs. K-State is set for 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 23.