Columbus, Ohio — For those who aren’t familiar with the LIU-Brooklyn Blackbirds just know that this team can play.
LIU-Brooklyn is not new to the madness that is March, as they found themselves in the NCAA Tournament last year as a #15 seed. The Blackbirds fell short to the North Carolina Tar Heels 102-87 in the first round.
This year, the Blackbirds went 16-2 in the Northeast Conference and finished the season with a regular season and tournament championship. They are back in the big dance, and they are looking for blood.
LIU-Brooklyn averages 81.9 points per game which is 3rd in the country. They are led in scoring by junior forward Julian Boyd who averages 17.4 ppg and 9.5 rpg. Also, junior forward Jamal Olasewere is a big part of the Blackbirds success, as he averages 16.8 ppg and 7.5 rpg.
LIU-Brooklyn is a small team that likes to get the ball up the floor. They run a three guard and two forward system, with their tallest starters being 6-7.
Michigan State forward Draymond Green compared the Blackbirds to that of one of their Big Ten foes. “They’re a lot like Iowa,” Green said. Well if that’s the case, the Spartans are in good shape because they have beaten the Hawkeyes twice this year by a combined total of 51 points.
Even though the Spartans are playing a #16 seed, they know what time of the year it is.
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo is nationally known as one of the top coaches in the nation, and a lot of that praise comes from the way he has his squad ready to play come March. “His intensity is going up every year,” Draymond Green said. “Coach is a mastermind.”
With a share of the Big Ten regular season championship and the Big Ten tournament championship under their the belt, the Spartans still have there eyes on the big prize, the NCAA Championship.
“We don’t expect anything but championships,” sophomore point guard Keith Appling said.
The Spartans are a very young team, but they understand what their goal is over the next few weeks.
“We like to win around here,” sophomore Derrick Nix said. “It’s one and done time.”
Having leaders such as Draymond Green and Austin Thornton is just what a very inexperienced NCAA Tournament team needs. “Draymond and Austin keep us motivated,” said Derrick Nix.
Seniors like Draymond Green and Austin Thornton don’t want their last games in a Michigan State uniform to be the first ever time a #1 seed losses to a #16 seed. These guys want to be remembered as winners, and that is why they are going to make sure that this young team is ready to play.
Tip-off is at 9:20 p.m. on Friday on TBS.