At one point last week, the Big Ten had a legit shot of having four teams make it to the Final Four. After Ohio State lost to Wichita State, Indiana lost to Syracuse and Michigan State lost to Duke, it left one – Michigan – as the lone Big Ten school in Atlanta.
Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo has always supported the Big Ten and preached as much earlier in the tournament. But with Michigan as the only alive conference representative, Izzo stopped short of saying he wants them to bring home the title.
On Tuesday, Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press attended Izzo’s season-ending press conference:
“I do have great respect for John (Beilein) and the job he’s done. You know, I’ll stick by my stance that nobody pulls for their rival. Mike (Krzyzewski) doesn’t pull for Carolina, and Roy (Williams) doesn’t pull for Duke. I’m not sure, but Urban Meyer’s probably not pulling for Michigan’s swim team to win, the way that thing is and everything.
“I have stood by that. I’m pulling for our conference, number one. There’s a difference between a dislike for your rival and no respect. Am I gonna carry the Michigan banner? Probably not. And if my kid does, he’s dead. But am I pulling for Big Ten and do I think they’ve accomplished a lot? Yeah, I do, and that’s the way I’ll probably leave it. I have respect, and I think what they’ve done and the way they’ve won a couple of those games, it’s been good.”
After picking Duke to beat Michigan State, Izzo’s son Steven certainly better be wearing maize and blue come Saturday. I think Izzo speaks for true Spartan fans in that he respects what John Beilein, Bacari Alexander and the rest of the Michigan staff have built this season. But, you can bet your house that you won’t get a single clap out of me when Trey Burke tears apart Syracuse’s 2-3 zone. And if you’re looking for a “go blue”, you better get out your checkbook.