Michigan State Builds Resume Late, Back in NCAA Tournament Field

Tom Izzo has Michigan State playing inspired basketball at the exact right time, and for the 23rd consecutive year, MSU is going dancing.
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EAST LANSING – Michigan State has officially extended its NCAA Tournament streak to 23 straight years. 

Okay, so maybe it's not official – Selection Sunday is still six days away, but there's simply no way the committee can overlook three top-5 victories in less than three weeks.

We're talking about two wins over NCAA Tournament 1-seeds in Michigan and Illinois, plus a victory against Ohio State, who is likely a 2-seed.

The Spartans 9-11 conference record will suffice, regardless of what happens at the Big Ten Tournament. Of course, a win can only help Michigan State, but at this point, MSU has done more than enough to get in.

"Well, it's been a hell of a 16 days," MSU coach Tom Izzo told reporters in the postgame. "I told my guys probably six games ago; you're looking at definitely playing four top-five teams. 

"I don't know if anybody has ever done that at the end of a conference season. I said it will be a memory-making experience if you can do your job. To win three out of four of those games, with the schedule we had, I just think, speaks a lot about the character of our guys."

Michigan State rode the likes of Aaron Henry and Rocket Watts, gained big shots from Joey Hauser and Joshua Langford, relied on Marcus Bingham Jr. and Julius Marble down low, and received clutch free-throws from Gabe Brown.

It all came together at the right time; in reality, it's what many people imagined MSU could be before the season started. But in typical Izzo fashion, he has his guys playing inspired basketball in March.

And they aren't done yet.

"That's what it comes down to," Henry said. "We got a lot more basketball to play, we got a lot more to do, and we are not satisfied. Michigan State wins championships, and we didn't win a Big Ten Championship this year, but there are still championships to be won."

There's no denying MSU dug themselves a sizable hole this season, but the Spartans did enough. 

Maybe it was just enough; maybe it wasn't, you be the judge, but this team is going dancing. Michigan State didn't always play with poise, they didn't always play together, and more often than not, self-induced errors seemingly cost them games.

Either way, here we are. Izzo tightened the screws at the right time, Henry dragged the Spartans to the finish line on more than one occasion, and when it mattered most, the rest of MSU came through.

"It was a celebration … to be able to end the season in conference play like this; it's not much more you could ask for," Langford said. "Our work is not finished, but we do want to cherish this win because this is a memory … we will remember forever."

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