Northwestern still needs three wins to make NCAA Tournament

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In our latest NCAA Tournament bracket projection, we have Northwestern as a #12 seed, one of the last four teams in. Of course, this isn’t a place you want to stay right now as Selection Sunday approaches.

Even though this is a supposedly “weak bubble,” bracket projections don’t and can’t factor in the “bid-stealing” that will occur next week when small conference favorites lose in their in their league tournaments. How many of these “one-bid league” upsets will we have? Who knows, but you need to get above that last #12 seed line to be safe, and the ‘Cats need to beat the Iowa Hawkeyes in Iowa City and then pick up two more wins in Indy.

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Northwestern’s Surprisingly Good RPI, Tournament Profile

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RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) is an algorithm based on opponents’ winning percentage, opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage, and opponents’ opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage. This is the truth, I’m not trying to sound like Dr. Seuss here. So RPI is like the BCS, a very controversial number that certains groups of people ascribe meaning to; other groups of people resent.

That fact is, RPI is taken very seriously by the NCAA Tournament selection committee, and from a numerical standpoint, it’s all about “who have you played?” Then there’s the eye-test with RPI, which asks “who have you beaten?”

And these numbers are what gives the Northwestern Wildcats a stronger than you think tourney profile. A 12-5, 2-3 in conference team with two 28+ point losses doesn’t seem like a good candidate to go dancing at first glance. But when you look at their #30 RPI and strength of schedule, the picture completely changes.

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#6 Michigan State Sees Win Streak End at Northwestern!

Tom Izzo

Was this a huge upset? On one level, yes. Any time the most prominent college basketball program in the Big Ten falls to the program with the least amount of tradition in the conference, it’s huge!

Not to mention it ended the biggest win streak that prominent

On the other hand, Northwestern came in with a RPI of 28 while Michigan State’s number is 6, so it’s not that big of a spread.

Also, last year’s meetings were an OT defeat in East Lansing and a one possession final score in Evanston.

However, when Northwestern defeated Michigan State 81-74, this one seemed to look like a “season definer.”

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Michigan State on Biggest Winning Streak Since Izzo’s 1st Final Four Team

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When the #6 Michigan State Spartans head to Northwestern on Saturday, they’ll do so riding a 15 game winning streak=longest winning streak since the 1998-99 season, when they won 22 in a row before losing to Duke in the Final Four.

That was Tom Izzo’s fourth season at the helm in East Lansing, and the first of his six Final Fours. That team lost to the Wisconsin Badgers at the Kohl Center to open the Big Ten season, then started their phenomenal run at home versus the rival Michigan Wolverines.

This group dropped the season opening pair to the ACC traditional powers (North Carolina in the aircraft carrier game and Duke in the Coach K. milestone game) before starting the current streak that has seen them rocket from preseason after-thought to national top ten ranking.

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Michigan State adds Valpo’s Brandon Wood to their Backcourt

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Combo guard Brandon Wood will join the Michigan State Spartans for the upcoming 2011-12 season. Wood played college basketball for Valparaiso the last two seasons, and will receive his bachelor’s degree this month. He’ll have one season of collegiate eligibility remaining for the Spartans.

NCAA rules allow an institution to apply for a waiver to allow a student-athlete to transfer without sitting out a season, provided the student-athlete has earned a bachelor’s degree, has eligibility remaining and is enrolling in a graduate-level program.

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Tom Izzo staying at Mich St! They Should Riot in East Lansing

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This happens every summer. NBA teams court Michigan State supercoach Tom Izzo, and NBA teams get turned down. But this time, the lure was much stronger. This time, the offer was $30 million to tutor LeBron James, the best player in the game. And again the offer was turned down.

Like I said a couple weeks ago, I knew “H to the Izzo” was staying, unless he had a guarantee that he could coach LeBron. Then there might have been a slight chance he would bolt for Cleveland. Well it still didn’t happen. It’s also been rumored (or reported- depending on your definition of news these days) that Izzo had previously turned down an offer to coach the Chicago Bulls this season as well.

By Paul M. Banks

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Tom Izzo isn’t going anywhere

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We’ve all heard the news and rumors about MSU’s head coach Tom Izzo: $30 million, 5 years from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Even though State’s A.D. says no official offer has even been made. However, don’t believe any of this  hype- unless Izzo knows he has Lebron to work with.

Michigan State entered this past season ranked #2 in the AP poll. They had their struggles in midseason, but played up to the hype when it counted in March. Without top player Kalin Lucas, the Spartans still finished just one HORRIBLE non-call away from playing in the national title game.

Next year, they’ll likely be #2 again, or  maybe #1. So Izzo has a title to win. And the only way he can do that in Cleveland, is if LeBron stays put.

By Paul M. Banks

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Michigan State could be nation’s top team next year

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By Paul M. Banks

Michigan State entered this past season ranked #2 in the AP poll. They had their struggles in midseason, but played up to the hype when it counted in March. Without top player Kalin Lucas, the Spartans still finished just one HORRIBLE non-call away from playing in the national title game.

Butler star forward Gordon Hayward even admitted it himself, telling CBS’ Seth Davis that he legitimately hacked MSU’s Draymond Green on Green’s potential game-tying shot in the final seconds of the national semi-final game.

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Izzo’s Definition of a College Basketball National Power

By Paul M. Banks

INDIANAPOLIS- What are the benchmarks, numbers, standards for entry into the same class as the four (Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, UCLA) most historically elite programs?

Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, whose program has been in the national conversation for the last 10 years or so, offered a couple definitions.

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Michigan State Spartans All Decade Team

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By Paul M. Banks

With six Final Fours and two national title game appearances in the last 12 years, the 2000s have been without a doubt the most fruitful period in Michigan State basketball history. The decade kicked off with the 2000 National title, and every player to stay all four years at State has been to at least one Final Four since Tom Izzo took over the program in 1995.

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So who grabs Purdue’s #1 Seed Now?

By Paul M. Banks

When #14 Michigan State meets #3 Purdue on Sunday, it’ll have huge influence on who wins the Big Ten regular season title. But beyond that…who will eventually take Purdue’s #1 seed in the NCAA tourney now?

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Fridays with Izzo: Sports “Saving” a City Storyline

By Paul M. Banks

Welcome to a new quasi-weekly feature where we discuss some of the biggest topics in the Michigan State Spartan world, including the insight and observations of legendary MSU coach Tom Izzo. In this edition, we talk about the idea of a successful sports team becoming a battered city’s salvation.

Despite what ESPN, the Chicago Tribune and other corporate media outlets have told you this week, sports does not and cannot save a city in ruins. This week, we incessantly heard about the Saints’ rise supposedly redeeming the city of New Orleans. We’ve been told that the Saints’ winning ways are somehow accelerating the post Katrina rebuilding process. As if each Reggie Bush touchdown run somehow alleviates another unemployed individual out of crippling poverty.

Last April, the MSM wouldn’t leave us alone with their sappy, sentimental “Michigan St. makes the Final Four taking place in their home state, in Detroit; and a Spartans win can lift Detroit out of the economic rubble, as the financial crisis hit this area harder than any other place in the city.”

One man often at the center of those stories was Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo, who seemed to offer a very different viewpoint on this topic from mine. Therefore, his thoughts might offer the perfect test to the validity of my position. Like Friedrich Nietzsche said “the thinking man has no need for refutation- for that he suffices within himself.” So, I wanted to see if I could become a thinking man, and I gave Izzo’s arguments a chance to refute me.

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