EAST LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — As the Michigan State men’s basketball team prepares for their Big Ten Tournament opener, some eyes are already on the NCAA Tournament.
No. 5 Michigan State (18-13) will play their first Big Ten Tournament game on Thursday against whoever wins a Wednesday matchup between No. 12 Nebraska and No. 13 Penn State.
The Spartans appear to be firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble. Their streak of 19 consecutive tournament appearances could end if they don’t win Thursday.
Head coach Tom Izzo said he thinks his team has done enough to get an invitation to the dance, but he understands the situation and thinks the Spartans are built to handle the pressure.
“My favorite time of year. It’s one and done time. And some people embrace it and some people fear it, and I think that’s the difference with who wins and who loses. Right now, this team has faced a lot of challenges all year, so we’re about as able to embrace it as any team I’ve had,” said Izzo, now in his 22nd season as head coach at MSU.
“When I do see some of these teams in because they played in a conference who had some teams ranked high but their non-conference schedule might not be anything, it just blows me away. The eye test, does it put us as one of the 64? In my humble opinion, the answer is yes. But there are probably 300 coaches who think that about their teams, too,” he continued.
No. 8 Michigan’s first Big Ten Tournament game is Thursday against No. 9 Illinois at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.