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Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

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Goodbye, MSU | Adam Steinhauer
Goodbye, MSU | Adam Steinhauer
Adam Steinhauer, Marketing Director • May 10, 2024
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Goodbye, MSU | Adam Steinhauer
Goodbye, MSU | Adam Steinhauer
Adam Steinhauer, Marketing Director • May 10, 2024
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Eagle Spirit dancer Migizii Kwe dances with the audience at this years East Lansing Art Festival. Photo credit: Samantha Ku/WDBM
2024 East Lansing Art Festival Q&A
Samantha Ku, Writer/Volunteer • May 18, 2024

Heather Majano is the Art Festival & Arts Initiative Coordinator under the East Lansing Parks, Recreation & Arts department, she...

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Goodbye, MSU | Adam Steinhauer
Goodbye, MSU | Adam Steinhauer
Adam Steinhauer, Marketing Director • May 10, 2024
View All
Eagle Spirit dancer Migizii Kwe dances with the audience at this years East Lansing Art Festival. Photo credit: Samantha Ku/WDBM
2024 East Lansing Art Festival Q&A
Samantha Ku, Writer/Volunteer • May 18, 2024

Heather Majano is the Art Festival & Arts Initiative Coordinator under the East Lansing Parks, Recreation & Arts department, she...

PREVIEW: Michigan State readies for first round of NCAA Tournament against Mississippi State

MSU+Head+Coach+Tom+Izzo+looks+on+as+the+Iowa+Hawkeyes+warm+up+ahead+of+a+matchup+against+Izzos+Spartans+on+Tuesday%2C+Feb.+20%2C+2024+at+the+Breslin+Center.+
Jack Moreland
MSU Head Coach Tom Izzo looks on as the Iowa Hawkeyes warm up ahead of a matchup against Izzo’s Spartans on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024 at the Breslin Center.

EAST LANSING – Following a five-point loss in the quarterfinal to No. 1 seeded Purdue in the Big Ten Tournament, the Michigan State Spartans looked back at their season resume, wondering if they did enough throughout the season to have their names called for the NCAA Tournament.

Throughout the season MSU went 3-9 against Quad 1 teams, while 6-5 against Quad 2 teams. The Spartans did not flutter against Quad 3 teams though, going a perfect 10-0.

At 6:30 pm on selection Sunday, the college basketball selection committee announced every region besides the west. 

Head coach Tom Izzo and the Spartans had one final chance to get into March Madness and keep not only their tournament hopes alive, but Izzo’s 25-year tournament streak. 

The No. 9 seed was announced and Michigan State’s name was called. The Spartans will go on to face No. 8 Mississippi State in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“It’s been a hell of a ride,” Izzo said in his press conference on Monday. “It’s not gonna end and if we wouldn’t have made it, I would’ve tried to start another streak. But I do sit back and appreciate it every once in a while.” 

MSU Head Coach Tom Izzo (right) watches as graduate guard Tyson Walker (2) attempts at three-pointer against Indiana State on Saturday, Dec. 30, 2024 at the Breslin Center. (Jack Moreland)

“I was a little bit concerned,” graduate guard Tyson Walker said. “Especially with how everything was playing out and other bubble teams winning. We got in though, and that’s all that matters.”

In an inconsistent season full of ups and downs, along with ranked wins and conference losses, MSU has a chance to put all of its previous games behind them and focus on the matchup at hand. 

“Consistency now depends on two games,” Izzo said. “You have to win the weekend, win two games, and then you can be inconsistent for four days.”

“Then you have to get consistent again. I know that’s not the right way to look at it but I really believe, and I’ve said it the whole year, but we’re better than we’re playing sometimes.” 

The Spartans finished with a 19-14 overall record, going 10-10 in Big Ten play and 1-1 in the conference tournament. MSU is No. 24 in the country in the NCAA’s NET rating, however, but has the worst record of any team in the Top 35.

The record can likely be attributed to Michigan State’s strength of schedule, which is ranked 10th nationally. A tough non-conference schedule is something Izzo always likes to load up on during the year to prepare his team for the NCAA tournament.

“Sometimes we are playing very well and we still forget we won 13 out of 17 games earlier this season,” Izzo said. “They were big games from Baylor to all Indiana State to Oakland, and then the whole conference season. So we’re working constantly and I gave us credit for that stretch.”

One huge part of MSU’s success this year and during that stretch has been the senior veterans, but an overlooked part of the team is the guard play, particularly from junior guard Jaden Akins and especially as of late, sophomore Tre Holloman. 

“Jaden for his career is a 40% three-point shooter,” Izzo said. “So when guys have done it before then I think I’m gonna know. As for Tre, he’s been playing better and better. I think he’s been playing better at the end of the year than he was at the beginning of the year.”

MSU senior guard A.J. Hoggard (11) lays the ball up in the second half of MSU’s 77-67 victory over Minnesota in the B1G Men’s Basketball Tournament on Thursday, Mar. 14, 2024 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, MN. (Jack Moreland )

Senior guard and leader A.J. Hoggard will make his fourth NCAA Tournament appearance. Hoggard has been the catalyst for MSU’s offense this year, averaging 5.2 assists per game, putting him in the top 50 nationwide (43rd). 

Hoggard knows what’s needed to be successful in the postseason, as preparation and the time for film on opposing teams is limited, which is something the underclassmen at Michigan State have yet to fully experience. 

“I tried to show them a little bit in the Big Ten tournament, short prep is the prep you play and then you come back and get right back to work,” Hoggard said.

“Having that quick turnaround is going to prepare them for tournament time. Making sure they stay focused and handle business on Thursday.”  

Along with Hoggard, graduate guard Tyson Walker has led the Spartans thus far this season with 18.2 PPG, 2.9 RPG, on 44.2% field-goal shooting.

“We have had a lot of lessons this year, but on Thursday we just have to come ready to play,” Walker said at Monday’s practice. 

Michigan State prepares for a battle-tested, 21-win Mississippi State team. 

The Bulldogs finished their SEC conference record at 8-10 but accompanied that with three victories versus top 25 teams throughout the season, and three top 25 losses within single-digit points.

Izzo compared head coach Chris Jans’s squad to a similar Purdue/Illinois-style team.

“We’re not as physical as teams we’ve been in the past, but I think we’re more physically geared up to face an Illinois or a Purdue style team,” Izzo said. “We’ve done a pretty good job on the boards as of late.” 

“We’ve also done a pretty good job competing, but it’s going to have to be that times five.”

Michigan State has one final run to silence any doubters of the 2023-24  season, along with one final send-off to their seniors. The road begins Thursday in Charlotte, North Carolina, as tip-off between the Spartans and Bulldogs is set for 12:15 p.m. EST. 

Izzo knows the level his team can play at, and he knows the benefits that come with playing at that level. 

On the other hand, he knows if his team cannot match the desired intensity, Michigan State could be in for an early exit in this year’s March Madness:

“I still believe we can play and finish consistently at a high level, but if we don’t play at that level, we will be coming home Thursday night.”

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About the Contributors
Jack Stager
Jack Stager, Sports Editor
Jack (he/him) is the Sports Editor at Impact 89FM. He is a junior sports journalism student. He has covered all MSU sports. Jack's favorite artist is Bryson Tiller and his favorite song is Love by Kendrick Lamar. 
Jack Moreland
Jack Moreland, Sports Photo Editor
Jack (he/him) is a Journalism major focusing in sports reporting and media photography. Growing up in nearby Okemos, Michigan, he has been a lifelong Spartan and is proud to sport the green and white. Jack is a big Baby Keem fan and is known to post on your block with your wishlist on you.

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