Originally written on In The Neutral Zone  |  Last updated 11/1/13
The college basketball national polls were revealed yesterday, and head coach Tom Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans check in at #2. For those fans and outside observers familiar with MSU’s program over the past several years, such a lofty ranking should come as no surprise whatsoever. Izzo’s dynamite program in East Lansing has demonstrated a model of consistency rivaled only by a very select few, yet it still tends to be overshadowed by some of the more glamorous blueblood programs across the landscape. Such can likely be attributed to the type of players which typically constitute Izzo’s program. Izzo historically seeks true three or four year program players as opposed to filling his roster with mega superstars sure to be one-and-done en route to the NBA. And you cannot dispute the impressive track record compiled by MSU since 1999 in utilizing Izzo’s favored approaches to coaching and recruiting – six Final Four appearances and a national championship. Understandably the folks in East Lansing endorse a simple message – keep focusing on the more hyped freshman superstars already grabbing the headlines. Undoubtedly fans and followers of college basketball have been foaming at the mouth in anticipation over the arrival of a new crop of immensely talented superstar freshmen, headlined by Julius Randle at Kentucky and Andrew Wiggins at Kansas. The incoming slew of freshmen across the nation is being touted as one of the most dazzling collections of talent in a great number of years. But concentrate on the much ballyhooed freshmen elsewhere at your own peril, as some of the more acclaimed blueblood programs of the game become susceptible to defeat by the more veteran Spartans team. History dictates that MSU takes on the personality of its head coach Izzo, who instills a relentless iron will and toughness within his players to outlast opponents with their tenacity on defense and in rebounding. Such a mentality allows the Spartans to compensate for any apparent talent deficiencies with their resiliency and unwavering approach. College basketball fans are understandably abuzz concerning the arrival of superstar freshmen like Wiggins and Randle. But teams and coaches alike across the landscape should overlook the less acclaimed Spartans at their own risk. The longstanding pedigree of their program indicates MSU will be a tough out for any team this season and in the conference and national tournaments. 3 total views, 3 views today
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