Saturday, April 4, 2009

Saturday Studmuffins: Michigan State's Tom Izzo (Fo' Shizzo)

This is one of those deals where I'm left with no choice but to praise someone who's responsible for the demise of one of my teams, but I'm okay with it. Really. Reasons you're dying for, after the jump.

I'm not gonna lie: I pretty much despise Michigan athletics. Period. The Tigers typically do better than the Royals. The Red Wings manhandle the Blues. Michigan football has gotten the better of Notre Dame football in recent years, and now Michigan State has eliminated my Jayhawks. It's true that I boasted about KU hoops early in the season, and then had nothing to say last Friday night when the Spartans eliminated them, but after a great first half by the crimson and blue, I kind of figured it was in the bag.

Not so much.

But hey -- it was a rebuilding year for the defending champs, and they nearly made the Elite Eight, which is pretty cool.

Know what else is pretty cool? The Izzo.

He's some 335-136 in his collegiate coaching career, which translates to a heady .711 in the old winning-percentage column, which translates to one more guy that's a lot better than Herman Edwards when it comes to playing to win the game.

Now knocking off the 15th-seed Robert Morris Colonials in the first round doesn't get him many cool points. Eliminating a 10th-seed USC team that only won 22 games doesn't say much more. Beating KU -- did I mention that the Jayhawks were the defending champs -- by five, however, is nice work, and handling a Louisville club that looked like they were gonna steamroll everyone in the Eight is pretty good, too.

Tonight the Spartans made fairly easy work of #1 seed UConn, and will play for the title on Monday night. Their foe, by the way, looks to be Roy Williams and the Tarheels as they currently lead Villanova 70-57 with five minutes to go.

Mr. Izzo has twice been named Big X Coach of the Year, and once the AP National coach of the year. He's been a part of March Madness 12 times, and in those dozen seasons, his teams have managed eight Sweet Sixteens, six Elite Eights, five Final Fours -- including a streak of three in a row, and now two championship games. They're also five-time Big X champions.

It's safe to say that Izzo qualifies as a Saturday Studmuffin. I gotta admit I wasn't pleased to see them keep winning, but I'll quietly root for them to get 'er done come Monday.

Has anyone ever quoted Jimmy Buffet and Larry the Cable Guy in the same sentence? I'm pretty sure that no, that has never happened, and I don't care who you are, that right there is funny.