The Opening Tip
Michigan State is making its 10th straight NCAA Tournament appearance, earning an at-large selection as the No. 9 seed in the East Region. MSU's NCAA Tournament streak is the fifth-longest active streak in the nation, and the second-longest in Big Ten history. The Spartans will face Marquette, an at-large selection out of the BIG EAST. The MSU/MU winner will face the winner of the North Carolina/Eastern Kentucky game on Saturday.
The Starting Five (And A Sixth Man)
1. A Perfect 10 - Michigan State is making its school-record 10th-straight NCAA Tournament appearance. It is the longest current streak among Big Ten schools and fifth longest in the nation. Only Arizona (23), Kansas (18), Kentucky (16) and Duke (12) have longer current streaks. It is also the second longest streak in Big Ten history. Indiana appeared in 18 consecutive tournaments between 1986 and 2003.
2. MSU In The NCAA Tournament - Michigan State is making its 21st appearance in the NCAA Tournament with a record of 40-19 in its previous 20 tournaments. MSU has made six trips to the Final Four (1957, 1979, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005) and captured the NCAA Championship in 1979 and 2000.
3. At His Best When It Counts - Tom Izzo ranks third among active coaches for the best NCAA Tournament winning percentage at .742 (23-8). Duke's Mike Krzyzewski ranks first at .782 (68-19) followed by Louisville's Rick Pitino at .756 (31-10).
4. MSU In Opening Games - In its 20 NCAA Tournaments, Michigan State has a record of 15-5 in its first game of the tournament. Since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985, the Spartans are 11-5 in the first round. Tom Izzo is 6-3 in first-round games.
5. Spartan Defense Is Big Ten's Best - Michigan State has established itself as the top defensive team in the Big Ten. The Spartans lead the league in field-goal percentage defense (.383) and scoring defense (56.7 ppg), and rank third in 3-point field-goal percentage defense (.319) and fourth in blocked shots (4.82 bpg). Maryland (54.8%) and Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament (51.1%) are the only two of MSU's 33 opponents to shoot better than 47 percent from the field, as 22 opponents have shot below 40 percent and 24 below 42 percent. The Spartans have held four opponents (Brown, The Citadel, Bradley and IPFW) below 30 percent shooting. Michigan State has also held eight of its 33 opponents under 50 points. MSU's defense is also among the nation's best, ranking third in scoring defense (56.3 ppg), fifth in field-goal percentage defense (38.0%) and 32nd in blocked shots (4.9 bpg), according to the most recent NCAA stats (March 9).
6. Closing In On 1,000 - With 995 career points, Drew Neitzel needs five points to become the 37th player in Michigan State history to score 1,000 points in his career. Neitzel entered the season with just 398 points through two seasons, but has scored 597 so far this year.
MSU vs. Marquette Notes
About Marquette - Marquette finished 24-9 overall and 10-6 in the BIG EAST Conference, which was tied for fifth place in the league. This is Marquette's 25th NCAA Tournament appearance, making the trip as an at-large selection. The Golden Eagles have a 32-25 all-time record in the tournament. Marquette has advanced to the championship game twice, and won the NCAA Championship in 1977 against North Carolina.
Series History - Michigan State leads the all-time series with Marquette, 30-23. In the only previous meeting in the NCAA Tournament, Michigan State defeated Marquette, 74-69, in the first round in 1959. That game was also held in North Carolina (Raleigh). Tom Izzo has never coached against Marquette. This will be the first meeting between the two schools since the 1959 NCAA Tournament.
Marquette Vs. The Field - Marquette is 6-5 against teams in this year's NCAA Tournament. The Golden Eagles took two of three against Pittsburgh, split against Louisville, beat Texas Tech, Duke and Villanova, and lost to Wisconsin, Georgetown and Notre Dame.
Common Opponents - Michigan State and Marquette have played two common opponents this season - Oakland and Wisconsin. MSU was 2-2 against those teams compared to 1-1 for Marquette. MSU defeated Oakland, 71-53, while Marquette also beat the Grizzlies, 80-62. The Spartans went 1-2 against Wisconsin and the Golden Eagles fell to the Badgers in their only meeting, 70-66, on Dec. 9 in Milwaukee.
Coach Crean - Tom Crean (Central Michigan, '89) is 165-85 in his eighth season at Marquette. This marks the fourth time in his tenure at Marquette that he has led the Golden Eagles to the NCAA Tournament. In 2002-03, he guided Marquette to a 27-6 record, a Conference USA regular-season championship and a Final Four appearance. Prior to becoming the head coach at Marquette, Crean was an assistant for four years (1995-99) under Coach Tom Izzo at Michigan State. While Crean was at MSU under Izzo, the Spartans went 88-41, won two Big Ten regular-season titles and appeared in the 1999 Final Four. Before working for Coach Izzo, Crean coached one season at Pittsburgh (1994-95) and four seasons at Western Kentucky (1990-94) as an assistant. Crean's first assistant position came at MSU in 1989-90, when he worked under Jud Heathcote as the Spartans won the Big Ten Championship and advanced to the Sweet 16.
Golden Eagle Notes - Sophomore guards Dominic James and Jerel McNeal both earned NABC All-District honors, with James being named to the first team and McNeal garnering second-team accolades ... McNeal has missed the last four games due to injury ... James, one of 30 finalists for the men's Naismith Trophy, leads the team in scoring (14.8 ppg) and assists (5.0 pg) ... Three players average in double-figures (James - 14.8 ppg; McNeal - 14.7 ppg; Wesley Matthews - 12.7 ppg) ... With a 10-6 record in conference play this season, Marquette joined Georgetown and Pittsburgh as the only league schools to win at least 10 BIG EAST games the past two seasons.
The Last Meeting - The two schools have not met since clashing in the 1959 NCAA Tournament in Raleigh, N.C. Although it was a first-round game, it was also the Mideast Regional semifinal. The Spartans jumped out to a 29-4 lead over Marquette and managed to hold the lead down the stretch to advance to the Regional Finals, 74-69. Bob Anderegg led the Spartans with 23 points on 10-of-19 shooting, while Horace Walker scored 20 points. Johnny Green had a team-high 18 rebounds for MSU and scored 14 points.
NCAA Tournament Notes
Spartan Opponents In NCAA Tournament - Ten of Michigan State's opponents, including five non-conference teams, from the 2006-07 season are in the NCAA Tournament. The list includes Belmont, Boston College, BYU, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio State, Purdue, Texas and Wisconsin. The Spartans were a combined 6-9 against the field of 65.
MSU As A No. 9 Seed - Since the NCAA Tournament began seeding the field in 1979, Michigan State has never been the No. 9 seed.
Exclusive Company - Michigan State ranks eighth among all schools in NCAA Tournament winning percentage for teams with at least 20 tournament games. MSU's .678 winning percentage (40-19) trails only Duke (.759, 85-27), UCLA (.733, 85-31), North Carolina (.706, 89-37), Kentucky (.698, 97-42), UNLV (.698, 30-13), Michigan (.680, 34-16) and Indiana (.678, 59-28).
MSU In Second Round - Since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, Michigan State has advanced to the second round 11 times. MSU has an 8-3 record in second-round games, including six straight wins.
Two Titles Not Too Shabby - Michigan State is one of just 13 schools to have won two or more NCAA Championships. Cincinnati, Connecticut, Kansas, Louisville, North Carolina State, Oklahoma State and San Francisco join MSU with two titles. Only Duke (3), North Carolina (4), Indiana (5), Kentucky (7) and UCLA (11) have won more titles.
Izzo Assistants In The East Region - Former Michigan State assistants Stan Heath and Tom Crean are now head coaches with teams in the East Region. Crean will lead Marquette against MSUin the first round. Heath has his Arkansas team in the tournament as the No. 12 seed and could possibly meet the Spartans in the Sweet 16.
Game #33 Notes - Wisconsin 70 - Michigan State 57
* Wisconsin became just the second MSU opponent this season to shoot better than 50 percent from the field (51.1%) and the second to score at least 70 points.
* Wisconsin opened the game on a 10-0 run and closed the first half on a 16-6 spurt.
* Goran Suton led MSU with 14 points, but scored just two in the second half.
* Wisconsin was 16-of-27 from the foul line, compared to just 5-of-11 for MSU.
* MSU's starting guards (Drew Neitzel and Travis Walton) combined to record 15 assists and one turnover.
* Marquise Gray contributed nine points and seven rebounds, his greatest point total since Jan. 20, and his best rebounding effort since Jan. 27.
* It marked the third game against Wisconsin in MSU's last six contests.
Big Ten Tournament Leftovers
* Drew Neitzel recorded 14 assists and no turnovers in two games.
* Michigan State averaged just 13.5 turnovers, 1.5 less than its season average.
* Goran Suton nearly averaged a double-double with 10.5 points and 9.0 rebounds.
* Michigan State shot 50.0 percent from the field, but allowed opponents to shoot 47.2 percent from the field, nearly nine percent better than its 38.3 season field-goal percentage defense. Both Northwestern and Wisconsin shot better than 40 percent from the field, marking just the second time this season that back-to-back opponents topped the 40-percent mark.
Michigan State Notes
D.J. At Marquette - Current Michigan State assistant Dwayne Stephens spent four seasons as an assistant at Marquette (1999-2003) under Tom Crean, helping the Golden Eagles to the 2003 Final Four.
Defense Among Best Ever - Not only is this year's Michigan State defense the best in the Big Ten, it ranks among the best in Spartan history. The Spartans allow opponents just 56.7 points per game, the lowest total since the 1951-52 squad allowed 56.0 points. Opponents are also shooting just 38.0 percent, the lowest percentage since 1958-59 (.379).
MSU In March - Michigan State is 40-16 in March since the 1998-99 season. For his career, Tom Izzo is 47-23 in March.
On A Neutral Court - This season, Michigan State is 3-2 on a neutral court, turning in some impressive performances. MSU defeated Texas, 63-61, in Madison Square Garden in the Coaches Vs. Cancer Classic. One day later, the Spartans lost by two points to Maryland. In early December, MSU defeated BYU, 76-61, at The Palace of Auburn Hills, Mich., despite Raymar Morgan missing the game and Maurice Joseph missing one half with injuries. In the Big Ten Tournament in the United Center, MSU defeated Northwestern and lost to No. 3 Wisconsin.
All-Big Ten Spartans - Three different Spartans were recognized when the All-Big Ten teams were announced on March 6. Drew Neitzel became the first Spartan to earn first-team honors since 2004. Travis Walton earned a spot on the All-Defensive Team and Raymar Morgan was selected to the All-Freshman Team.
An Impressive List Of Accolades - As different organizations and media outlets are handing out their yearly awards, junior Drew Neitzel is collecting an impressive list of honors. On March 8, he was named second-team All-American by CBS SportsLine.com. He is also an all-district selection by both the USBWA and NABC, a First-Team All-Big Ten honoree, and one of 22 finalists for the Wooden Award.
Nitro Leads Spartan Attack - Last season, Drew Neitzel ranked among the Big Ten leaders in assists, but averaged just 8.3 points per game and attempted just 7.1 shots per game as he distributed the ball to three future NBA players. This year, Neitzel is averaging a team-best 18.1 points per game. He has scored 20 or more points 16 times, and 17 or more points in 22 games. On the season, he is averaging 13.0 shots and 4.1 free-throw attempts per game. Despite taking more shots, he is shooting a career-best 43.4 percent from the field. Meanwhile, he has continued to be a distributor of the ball, averaging 4.2 assists per contest. For his efforts, Neitzel has been named Big Ten Player of the Week three times (Nov. 20, Nov. 27 and Feb. 26).
Morgan Beginning To Excel - Freshman Raymar Morgan has emerged as Michigan State's number-two scoring option. Over the last eight games, Morgan is averaging 13.4 points and 4.6 rebounds in 27.8 minutes, despite playing just eight minutes at Wisconsin before fouling out. He missed seven games in December and January with a stress reaction in his right shin. He came off the bench in the first three games back from injury, before returning to the starting lineup against Penn State. He has started the last 14 games, averaging 12.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 29.0 minutes. He opened his freshman season with six straight double-figure efforts, becoming the first Spartan freshman to open his career with six games scoring in double figures. In fact, no other Spartan freshman had scored double figures in more than their first three games. Previously, Sam Vincent (1981-82) was the only Spartan freshman to score 10 or more in his first three games. Morgan is currently the team's second-leading scorer at 11.3 ppg, and has scored in double figures in 20 of his 26 contests. He has scored 18 points in four games, including against Indiana (2/24), Michigan (2/13), Bradley and No. 19 Texas.
Hitting The Boards - Michigan State has made a commitment to rebounding in 2006-07, as the Spartans boast a Big Ten-best +7.8 rebounding margin, out-rebounding 24 of their 33 opponents, while tying three other teams. MSU is 19-5 when out-rebounding its opponent, but 3-6 when failing to do so. According to the most recent NCAA statistics (March 9), the Spartans rank fifth in the nation (+8.1). MSU's greatest margin came against Northwestern (+24, 37-13), while only six teams have been able to out-rebound the Spartans. MSU's rebound margin has been at least +13 in 11 games. Three different Spartans have grabbed 10 or more rebounds in a game, including Marquise Gray (12 vs. Oakland & BYU, 11 vs. Chicago State & Loyola), Drew Naymick (10 vs. Bradley) and Goran Suton (15 vs. UW-Green Bay, 12 vs. Youngstown State, 11 vs. BYU, 10 vs. Ohio State, Michigan & Northwestern).
For Starters - Due to a variety of factors, including injuries, Michigan State has used 10 different starting lineups this season. The lineup of Drew Neitzel, Travis Walton, Raymar Morgan, Drew Naymick and Marquise Gray has started seven of the last eight games. Walton is the only Spartan to start all 33 games.
Crashing The Offensive Glass - Michigan State is averaging 11.48 offensive rebounds per game. In fact, MSU has grabbed the rebound on 39.7 percent of its missed shots. In five games, the Spartans have grabbed more offensive rebounds than their opponents totaled defensive boards. MSU accomplished this feat against Youngstown State (MSU - 15 off. reb.; YSU - 9 def. reb.), Maryland (MSU - 17 off. reb.; UMD - 16 def. reb.), Northwestern (MSU - 16 off. reb.; NU - 7 def. reb.), Penn State (MSU - 10 off. reb.; PSU - 7 def. reb.) and Iowa (MSU - 15 off. reb.; UI - 10 def. reb.).
Neitzel For Three - Over the last eight games, Drew Neitzel is shooting 48.2 percent (32-of-66) from 3-point range. On the season, Neitzel is shooting 106-of-254 (41.7%) from behind the arc. The 106 made 3-pointers rank second on the MSU single-season chart, trailing only Shawn Respert (119 - 1994-95). The 254 attempts are a new MSU single-season record. Neitzel's 106 made 3-pointers rank sixth on the Big Ten single-season list, one behind Indiana's Steve Alford (107 - 1986-87) and two behind Joe Crispin (108 - 2000-01). For his career, Neitzel ranks fifth in MSU history in 3-point field goals (168) and sixth in 3-point field-goal attempts (417).
Neitzel Earns Weekly Honors - Drew Neitzel was named the national Player of the Week by ESPN.com's Andy Katz and the co-Big Ten Player of the Week on Feb. 26. In two games, he averaged 22.5 points, shooting 55.6 percent from the field, including 52.9 percent from 3-point range. As a team, Michigan State also earned some national recognition, earning Team of the Week honors from Dick Vitale, Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News and Fox Sports.com's Jeff Goodman after wins over No. 1 Wisconsin and Indiana.
Spartan Injuries - Entering the season with five recruited scholarship players on the perimeter, the Spartans knew they could not afford many injuries. Yet, three players have been forced to miss significant stretches. Raymar Morgan missed seven games, as did Isaiah Dahlman, while Maurice Joseph missed four contests. MSU was 6-1 in Morgan's absence, but the one loss was a two-point defeat at Iowa. The Spartans were 3-4 with Dahlman sidelined. In addition, Drew Neitzel was unable to start the game at Michigan due to illness, snapping a string of 69 straight starts.
Close Losses - Michigan State has lost four games by a single basket (vs. Maryland, at Iowa, at #5 Ohio State, at #4 Wisconsin). Of Michigan State's 11 losses, six have been by seven points or fewer.
An Increase In Scoring - Drew Neitzel is averaging 18.1 points this season after averaging 8.3 points in 2005-06, while starting every contest. His increase of +9.8 points per game ranks as the third-largest increase from one season to the next by a Spartan starter. In 1956-57, Julius McCoy averaged 27.3 points, after averaging 16.7 the year before, an increase of +10.6. Greg Kelser raised his scoring average from 11.7 as a freshman (1975-76) to 21.7 as a sophomore (1976-77), an increase of +10.0.
Neitzel In Big Ten Statistics - Drew Neitzel leads the Big Ten in free-throw percentage (.881) and 3-point field goals made (3.21 pg), ranks second in minutes played (35.52 mpg), fourth in scoring (18.1 ppg), fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.86), sixth in assists (4.27 apg) and eighth in 3-point field-goal percentage (.417). Nationally, Neitzel ranks 18th in free-throw percentage and 15th in 3-point field goals made (March 9).
Neitzel At The Charity Stripe - Drew Neitzel is one of the most prolific foul shooters in Michigan State history. For his career, he has made 86.5 percent of his free throws (173-of-200), ranking first in MSU history. This season, he is shooting 88.1 percent (119-of-135), leading the Big Ten and ranking as the fifth-best single-season percentage at MSU. According to the most recent NCAA statistics (March 9), he ranks 18th in the nation (.880).
A Lot Of Minutes - Drew Neitzel ranks second in the Big Ten Conference in minutes played overall (35.52 mpg) and third in league games (36.19 mpg). These are the highest averages by a Spartan since 1990-91 when Steve Smith averaged 37.8 mpg overall and 38.4 mpg in conference action.
MSU's Block Party - Michigan State has blocked 159 shots, establishing a single-season school record. The Spartans average 4.82 blocks per contest, ranking fourth in the Big Ten. Blocked shots were first kept as an official statistic in 1977-78, with the previous record being set in 2001 (133 blocks). According to the most recent NCAA stats (March 9), MSU ranks 32nd in the nation (4.9 bpg).
The Last Line Of Defense - The Spartans are led in blocks by Drew Naymick with 54, followed by Idong Ibok with 33 and Goran Suton with 26. Naymick's 54 blocks rank him second in the Spartan single-season record book. Naymick ranks fifth in the Big Ten in blocked shots (1.64 bpg) and has blocked at least one shot in 27 of 33 games this season and has eight games with three or more blocks, including a career-high tying four rejections at Michigan. With 73 blocks for his career, Naymick ranks tied for sixth in MSU history with Adam Ballinger (73 - 1998-2003), two behind Andre Hutson (75 - 1997-2001).
Naymick In The Starting Lineup - After coming off the bench for the season's first 24 games, Drew Naymick has started the last nine games. He is averaging 25.8 minutes per game, recording 4.9 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per contest.
A Special Freshman - Raymar Morgan is having one of the most productive freshman campaigns in the Big Ten. He ranks fourth among league freshmen in scoring (11.3 ppg) and third in rebounding (5.0 rpg). In conference games, his 10.9 ppg scoring average ranked fourth.
Tops In Offense And Defense - Michigan State finished the conference season leading the Big Ten in field-goal percentage (.470) and field-goal percentage defense (.390), becoming just the 10th team to accomplish this feat since 1974. The last team to do it was Illinois in 2003 (FG% - .474; FG% Def. - .384).
20-Win Seasons - With its victory over Wisconsin on Feb. 20, Michigan State recorded its eighth 20-win season in the last 10 years, all under head coach Tom Izzo. Of the 16 20-win seasons in Spartan history, Izzo has been involved in 13 of them, eight as a head coach and five as an assistant.
Balanced Scoring Is Key - Michigan State is 15-4 when three or more Spartans score in double figures, but just 7-7 when two or fewer players score 10 or more points.
Lending A Helping Hand - Michigan State leads the Big Ten in assists with 16.00 per contest. In fact, MSU has recorded an assist on 528 of its 762 baskets (69.3%). That percentage ranks third in the nation, behind Sam Houston State (73.0%) and Northwestern (71.7%). Individually, Travis Walton (2nd, 5.48 apg) and Drew Neitzel (6th, 4.27 apg) rank among the league leaders in assists.
On Target - Michigan State ranks second in the Big Ten in field-goal percentage (.471). In conference games, the Spartans shot a league-best 47.0 percent from the field.
From Way Downtown - Michigan State ranks second in the Big Ten Conference in 3-point field-goal percentage, connecting on 37.3 percent of its attempts from behind the arc. Coach Tom Izzo credits the success in large part to the right players attempting the shots, as just five Spartans have made more than one. Drew Neitzel (106-254, .417) and Maurice Joseph (39-111, .351) are MSU's two most prolific long-range shooters.
Walton's Improved Play - Sophomore co-captain Travis Walton has been asked to carry a lot of the point guard duties this season. He has responded by posting a 2.21 assist-to-turnover ratio, ranking third in the Big Ten, while ranking second in the league in assists (5.48 apg). He has 12 games with seven or more assists, including three of 10 or more, and eight games scoring in double-figures, after not scoring more than seven in a game last season. In addition, Walton usually draws the opponent's top perimeter player as a defensive assignment.
Neitzel On Wooden List - Drew Neitzel is one of 22 players on the national ballot for the John R. Wooden Award and 10-member All-America team. Earlier this season, he was one of 30 players named to the John R. Wooden Award Midseason All-American Team. He joins Ohio State's Greg Oden and Wisconsin's Alando Tucker as the three Big Ten players on the list.
Leading Scorers - Although Drew Neitzel is unquestionably Michigan State's number one scoring threat, his teammates have also contributed to the attack as six different Spartans have led MSU in scoring in a game this season. Neitzel has been the leading scorer on 22 occassions, followed by Raymar Morgan (5 games), Goran Suton (3), Maurice Joseph (2), Travis Walton (2) and Marquise Gray (1).
Neitzel Among All-Time Assists Leaders - Drew Neitzel ranks eighth in MSU history with 427 career assists. Next on the list is Chris Hill, who recorded 452 assists.
Neitzel's Second Halves - As a general rule, Drew Neitzel has been a more explosive scorer in the second half. Through 33 games, Neitzel is averaging 7.1 points in the first half and 11.0 after halftime. His most dramatic performance came at Ohio State where he scored 24 second-half points after five in the first half, nearly leading MSU back from a 20-point halftime deficit. In fact, he scored one more point in the second half (24) than did the Buckeyes (23). In the second game vs. OSU, he scored 21 of his 24 points after the break. In nine games this season, Neitzel has scored at least 10 more points in the second half than he did in the first. On the flip side, however, he has also shown a knack for some quick starts. He knocked down four first-half 3-pointers against Northwestern, Michigan, Youngstown State and Vermont and three in the first against IPFW, Chicago State, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Too Many Turnovers - Michigan State has struggled with turnovers this season, averaging 15.0 per game. For the most part, the turnover problem has not been due to poor guard play as MSU's starting backcourt of Drew Neitzel and Travis Walton are averaging a combined 4.8 per game, while both rank in the top five in the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover ratio. MSU is 9-0 when committing fewer turnovers than its opponent.
Dahlman Back To Action - Isaiah Dahlman has played in six of the last seven games after missing seven straight games with an injury in his right foot. In those six games, he is averaging 8.2 minutes, adding to MSU's perimeter depth. He had started the eight games before his injury, averaging 6.1 points, 2.3 rebounds and 25.6 minutes. He played an important role during that stretch as Raymar Morgan was out with an injury for all but one of those eight games and Maurice Joseph missed four of the games with an injury. MSU was 3-4 with Dahlman out of the lineup.
What A Difference A Year Makes - Maurice Joseph is averaging 6.0 points and 16.8 minutes. He missed the last four games of December with a stress reaction in his right foot. Joseph returned to action in the Big Ten opener. In 2005-06, Joseph scored 16 points for the entire season, playing just 54 minutes. Joseph is just one example of a player having made giant strides for the Spartans since last year. Drew Naymick (14 vs. YSU), Drew Neitzel (32 vs. Chicago State), Travis Walton (15 vs. Bradley), Marquise Gray (19 vs. Loyola), Goran Suton (27 vs. Loyola) and Idong Ibok (7 vs. Belmont & Indiana) are returning players who have also posted career highs in scoring this season.
Ibok On Offense - Idong Ibok has scored 60 points in the last 24 contests after scoring just seven points through the first nine games. During the last 24 games, Ibok is shooting 24-of-30 from the field.
Non-Conference Victories - Michigan State won 13 non-conference games, establishing a school record for regular-season non-conference victories since joining the Big Ten in 1950-51. Last year's squad won 12 non-conference games. The 1989-90, 1998-99 and 2000-01 squads won 11 non-conference games during the regular season.
College Hoops Classic Recap - Michigan State finished second in the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic benefiting Coaches Vs. Cancer. MSU defeated Brown, 45-34, and Youngstown State, 86-61, to advance to the Championship Rounds in New York's Madison Square Garden. In the semifinals, MSU upset No. 19 Texas, 63-61, when Drew Neitzel made a driving layup with 2.4 seconds remaining. The next day, the Spartans lost a close 62-60 decision to Maryland. Neitzel was named the East Lansing Regional MVP and earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team in New York.
Spartans In The NBA - Nine former Spartans were on NBA rosters on opening day of the 2006-07 season. They included Maurice Ager (Dallas Mavericks), Alan Anderson (Charlotte Bobcats), Charlie Bell (Milwaukee Bucks), Shannon Brown (Cleveland Cavaliers), Paul Davis (Los Angeles Clippers), Morris Peterson (Toronto Raptors), Zach Randolph (Portland Trail Blazers), Jason Richardson (Golden State Warriors) and Eric Snow (Cleveland Cavaliers). The nine players on opening day rosters gave MSU the most of any Big Ten school and ranked sixth in the nation behind UConn (14), Duke (13), North Carolina (12), Arizona (10) and UCLA (10).
Backcourt Leadership - Michigan State is led in 2006-07 by the backcourt duo of Drew Neitzel and Travis Walton, having been voted co-captains by their teammates. Walton is the third sophomore captain under head coach Tom Izzo, joining Antonio Smith in 1996-97 and Mateen Cleaves in 1997-98.
Spartans In The NBA Draft - With three Spartans selected in the 2006 NBA Draft, Michigan State has had 10 players drafted in the last seven drafts, ranking behind only Connecticut (11) and Duke (11). With Maurice Ager and Shannon Brown being selected in the first round, the Spartans have produced six first rounders in the last seven years, ranking behind only Connecticut (8) and Duke (7) and tied with North Carolina.
The Book On Tom Izzo
Coach Izzo - In his 12th year, Tom Izzo (Northern Michigan, '77) is 277-120 (.698), and 133-63 (.679) in the Big Ten, as the coach of the Michigan State basketball program. In 2005, he passed Benjamin Van Alstyne to become the second-winningest coach in MSU history, trailing only Jud Heathcote (340) in total wins. In his 10 seasons as a head coach, Izzo has won National Coach of the Year honors four times, including the Clair Bee Award in 2005 and NABC honors in 2001. In 1999, Izzo was named National Coach of the year by Basketball Times, while earning similar honors from Associated Press, Basketball News and the USBWA in '98.
Among The Big Ten's Best - Tom Izzo's .679 winning percentage in Big Ten games ranks third all-time among league coaches with at least 10 years of service, behind former Indiana coach Bob Knight (.700) and Purdue's Ward Lambert (.685). In all games, Knight ranks first at .734, followed by Wisconsin's Walter Meanwell (.712), Lambert (.709) and Izzo (.698). With 133 conference victories, Izzo currently ranks 13th all-time.
Izzo Among Best Ever - Through his first 11 seasons, Tom Izzo won 255 games, ranking ninth in college basketball history for most wins by a college coach in his first 11 years.
Graduating Student-Athletes - In Tom Izzo's 11 full years directing the Spartan program, 82 percent of his players who completed their eligibility also left with a degree. In the last seven years, 21 Spartans have received their undergraduate degrees, including five each in 2001 and 2003.
Izzo's Coaching Tree - Five current Division I head coaches all served as assistants to Tom Izzo, including Tom Crean (Marquette), Brian Gregory (Dayton), Stan Heath (Arkansas), Stan Joplin (Toledo) and Doug Wojcik (Tulsa). Gregory is in his fourth year as head coach, after leaving MSU in the spring of 2003. Crean directed Marquette to the 2003 Final Four, while Heath directed Kent State to the Elite Eight in the 2002 NCAA Tournament. Wojcik is in his second season at Tulsa. Former assistant Mike Garland served as head coach at Cleveland State for three seasons after leaving Izzo's staff in 2003. He is currently an assistant coach at SMU.
Vs. Ranked Opponents - Tom Izzo has a career record of 61-58 against teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25. This includes a 54-47 record since 1997-98.
North Carolina Notes
About North Carolina - North Carolina finished 28-6 overall and 11-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference to enter the ACC Championship Tournament as the No. 1 seed. The Tar Heels went on to win their first ACC Tournament Championship since the 1998 season with an 89-80 victory over N.C. State on March 11. UNC is making its 39th NCAA Tournament appearance, tied with UCLA for second-most all-time. The Tar Heels are 89-37 in tournament play, winning four national titles.
UNC Vs. The Field - UNC is 11-5 vs. teams in this year's NCAA Tournament. The Tar Heels split with Georgia Tech, defeated both Boston College and Duke twice, beat Winthrop, Tennessee, Ohio State, Kentucky, Virginia, and Arizona, and lost to Virginia Tech twice, while also losing to Gonzaga and Maryland.
Common Opponents - Michigan State and UNC have played three common opponents this season - Boston College, Maryland and Ohio State. MSU was 0-4 against those teams compared to 3-1 for UNC.
Series History - UNC leads the all-time series with MSU, 6-3. The teams last met in the 2005 NCAA Tournament, where UNC defeated State, 87-71, in the National Semifinals. The Tar Heels also defeated the Spartans in the 1957 Final Four and the 1998 Sweet Sixteen.
Coach Williams - Roy Williams (North Carolina, '72) is 521-130 in his 19th season as a collegiate head coach, including 103-29 in his fourth year at North Carolina. Prior to his arrival in Chapel Hill, Williams coached at Kansas for 15 years (1988-2003), where he finished his Jayhawk career with a 418-101 overall record.
Tar Heel Notes - With UNC's victory over N.C. State to win the ACC Tournament on March 11, Roy Williams won his first ACC Tournament title as a head coach... Sophomore Tyler Hansbrough was named First-Team All-American by the NABC, and was also named First-Team All-ACC for the second consecutive season... UNC is making its 11th appearance as a No. 1 seed ... UNC leads the nation in scoring margin (+18.6) and ranks in the top five nationally in scoring offense (2nd, 87.1 ppg), rebound margin (3rd, +8.4), assists per game (3rd, 19.0) and field-goal percentage (50.2) (as of March 9).
The Last Meeting - UNC defeated MSU, 87-71, in the 2005 National Semifinals. The Spartans led by as many as eight points in the first half and held a 38-33 halftime edge, but the Tar Heels broke up a 49-49 second-half tie with a 12-0 run. Maurice Ager led MSU with 24 points, and Paul Davis added 14 points and 15 rebounds, but Alan Anderson did not score in 20 minutes, suffering from a knee injury. Sean May led UNC with 22 points. MSU shot a season-low 33.8 percent in the contest.
Eastern Kentucky Notes
About Eastern Kentucky - Eastern Kentucky finished 21-11 overall and 13-7 in the Ohio Valley Conference, good for second place in the league. The Colonels captured the OVC Tournament title with a 63-62 victory over top-seeded Austin Peay. This is the seventh NCAA Tournament appearance for EKU.
Eastern Kentucky Vs. The Field - Eastern Kentucky is 0-2 vs. teams in this year's NCAA Tournament, losing to Ohio State and Kentucky.
Common Opponents - Michigan State and Eastern Kentucky have played two common opponents this season - Ohio State and Youngstown State. MSU was 1-2 against those teams compared to 0-2 for Eastern Kentucky.
Series History - Michigan State leads the all-time series with Eastern Kentucky, 1-0, defeating the Colonels, 89-85, on Dec. 1, 1969, in East Lansing.
Coach Neubauer - Jeff Neubauer (La Salle University, '93) is 34-27 in his second season as a collegiate head coach, and at 36 is the Ohio Valley Conference's youngest coach. Neubauer graduated from La Salle University in 1993, helping the Explorers earn two NCAA Tournament bids and an NIT appearance.
Colonel Notes - Eastern Kentucky made its way into the NCAA Tournament with a last-second shot by freshman Josh Taylor in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament final against regular-season champion Austin Peay ... The Colonels lead the Ohio Valley in field-goal percentage (.462) and rank second in the Ohio Valley in 3-point field goals made per game (8.1), assists per game (14.5), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.1), steals per game (7.8) and turnover margin (+1.9).