On Friday night, in case you were under a rock, MSU played North Carolina on an aircraft carrier in San Diego. Tom Izzo stood majestically behind the President and First Lady during the national anthem. North Carolina won the game 67-55 in a game that seemed both closer and much farther apart than that. MSU outrebounded UNC 41-29 and had all the hustle you could possibly want out of young squad of whippersnappers. This team, it looked vintage Izzo. They were crashing the boards, having fun playing the game, it's the team I feel like I haven't seen in a few years.
Tonight MSU plays Duke at 7p in the 24 hours of hoops. This morning Seth Davis tweeted: "Mich St better than people think. Got their feet wet vs tough UNC team. Plus, they have NO pressure on them. Just a hunch, folks." To which Dan Wetzel replied: "@SethDavisHoops Good theory on Duke, but when was last time Michigan State won a major, early season non-conf game?" To which several people replied that when MSU beat Washington in Maui last year they were ranked 11th and that MSU knocked off number 6 Texas in 2008.
The point Wetzel makes is a legitimate one, MSU has struggled in major non-conference games in the pre-season. It'd be nice to win some big games in November and December and it's been a concern of mine that when Izzo leaves too much value will be placed on finding someone who wins early season games. To be honest though, it's never bothered me a bit. You don't win the NCAA championship in November, you win it in March and April. That's what Tom Izzo does best.
Michigan State will probably not beat Duke tonight. The best Izzo squads have had a hard time getting the better of Duke and with Coach K going for the all-time win record tonight and our squad being the youngest I can remember in a long time, the odds are not on our side. See for the write-up that features game theory, etc. However, as I said, I think this'll be the Izzo-iest Izzo squad in a while and they'll be there in March when it matters. This is going to be a fun season of basketball.