Final Four Season in Review: Michigan State Spartans
MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS
RECORD: 27-11 (12-6 in Conference)
COACH: Tom Izzo
2014-2015 SEASON: Michigan State and coach Tom Izzo have had an up and down season to say the least. A Final Four appearance is one of the greatest highs a college program can achieve in a season, but on December 20th 2014, this same program suffered a home loss to Texas Southern 64-71 in overtime that could have derailed any and all plans for March. However the team regrouped and went 13-6 in their remaining 19 games prior to the BIG 10 Tournament. In the BIG 10 Tournament, Sparty defeated Ohio State and Maryland to advance to the championship game, only to fall in overtime 80-69 to the Wisconsin Badgers, who are also in this year’s Final Four.
NCAA TOURNAMENT: The Spartans drew the 7th seed in the East region of the NCAA Tournament and thats where this team began to excel. A 70-63 win over Georgia set up a clash with the top defense in the nation, 2nd seeded Virginia Cavaliers. Michigan St. beat Virginia and put up 60 points on a team that only allowed 51 ppg all season. Next up was 3rd seeded Oklahoma in the Sweet Sixteen. A back and forth struggle ensued, ending with MSU fighting back and pulling out a 62-58 victory. Awaiting Coach Izzo and his team in the Elite 8, were Coach Rick Pitino and his Louisville Cardinals. In another nail biter that saw the Spartans trailing by 8 points at halftime, the grit of Travis Trice and his teammates shined through lifting them to a 76-70 overtime win, advancing them to the Final Four in Indianapolis.
STANDOUT PLAYER: Travis Trice is a 6 foot, 170 pound senior point guard that has improved over his 4 years in East Lansing and is the embodiment of this Spartan team. During the 2014-2015 season, Trice averaged 15.3 PPG but in his 4 NCAA tournament games, he’s upped his play like everyone on the team, averaging 19.7 PPG. Trice has been clutch for Coach Izzo all tournament making 13 3 PT FGs and missing only 2 FTs. Trice and Coach Izzo are leading this Michigan State team into Indianapolis to take on the Duke Blue Devils in the Final Four.
OUTLOOK: The shooting of Travis Trice and junior guard Bryn Forbes, coupled with the recent emergence of forward Branden Dawson, gives Michigan State a fighting chance vs Duke and their outstanding freshman Jahlil Okafor.