Tom Izzo: 'It never looks good' when the Big 10 has no teams in Elite 8 | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Friday / June 21.
  • Tom Izzo: ‘It never looks good’ when the Big 10 has no teams in Elite 8

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    NEW YORK –– After yet another disappointing NCAA Tournament for the Big Ten, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo was left to try to explain it.

    With Michigan State’s 98-93 overtime loss to Markquis Nowell and Kansas State Thursday night at Madison Square Garden, not a single Big Ten team will make the Elite Eight for a second straight season.

    “I played for the Big Ten, too,” Izzo said. “It was really important to me when you’ve been in a league 40 years that you love and cherish and you know how good it is, and we can’t get another National Championship.

    “Even that stuff is on my mind because I know how good my league is, and I know how good the teams are and the coaches are. Yet it never looks good when you don’t have a team moving on through the Sweet 16.”

    The Big Ten Conference hasn’t won an NCAA championship since Izzo’s Michigan State team did it in 2000 — when Bill Clinton was in the White House.

    During that same span, the ACC has won eight titles, the Big East six and the SEC and Big 12 two, including the last two with Baylor and Kansas. Kansas State, picked last in the Big 12, is now through to the Elite Eight against Florida Atlantic in coach Jerome Tang’s first year, while Texas of the Big 12 meets Princeton Friday night.

    Yet Izzo insisted the Big Ten was still the best league in the country.

    “No matter what anybody says, top to bottom, I have no problem standing up and saying we have the best league in the country,” Izzo said.

    In recent years, the Big 10 has sent more than half of its 14 teams to the NCAA Tournament, only to see most of them get knocked out early.

    A year ago, the league put a record nine teams into the field of 68, yet only two — Purdue and Michigan — reached the round of 16, where they both lost.

    This season, eight were in the field when it started yet only Michigan State remained alive entering the round of 16.

    “The key is now can you learn from it, and that’ll be the challenge because our league is not getting any worse,” Izzo said. “Too many damn good coaches. And so next year will be another challenging year. And as you know, after we play musical chairs here and let all the people figure out who’s going where and what’s going to happen, we’ll sit down and see who we got, who we get to coach, and see if we can make a magical run only a little farther than we did this year.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

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