Nobody is as good as Tom Izzo at getting to the Sweet Sixteen. He usually finds a way to win as well, being one of the best coaches in the month of March. However, Michigan State did not find themselves advancing to the Elite Eight on Thursday, losing to Kansas State at Madison Square Garden.
In what has been a dream season in the Little Apple, the Wildcats had a magical night on the back of point guard Markquis Nowell. Izzo does not view it the same way, though. He thinks Kansas State got lucky at times, particularly as the shot clock was winding down.
“Give [Kansas State] credit,” Izzo said. “They banked in two shot clock 3s. They made some big plays, but some of those big plays weren’t big plays, they were lucky plays.”
One of the plays Izzo is referencing likely involves Nowell. Shortly after coming off the court due to an ankle injury, the Wildcats were scrambling. Nowell picked the ball up on the left side before collecting himself and putting up a prayer. The shot banked in for a three, sending the Kansas State faithful into a frenzy.
As for the overall performance of Nowell, luck would not be the way to describe it. He set the NCAA Tournament record for assists in a game, dishing out 19. A remarkable 20 points — two of which came from a layup as the buzzer sounded in overtime — made the hometown reunion special for Nowell.
Izzo will likely remember the plays he considered lucky for some time. But the loss on Thursday capped what was a solid run from Michigan State given the circumstances. Nobody expected them in the second weekend and they put up a great performance against a tough Big 12 squad.
Tom Izzo coaching performance leads Michigan State to second weekend
Michigan State was an early out in the Big Ten Tournament, losing to Ohio State in their first game. Selection Sunday saw the Spartans hear their name called as a seven-seed, something nobody at the bottom of the bracket was looking forward to.
USC was first up, making an easy win. Marquette and Shaka Smart then fell to the coach they have named the month of March after, ending their dream season. It’s hard to say Michigan State made the second weekend as an underdog given their status as a program. This year was different though, being a great coaching performance from Izzo.