Tom Izzo to MSU fans: 'We're gonna find a way to win Saturday'
Michigan State's 85-66 win over Iowa on Wednesday night gave the Spartans a one-game lead for fourth place in the Big Ten and set up an even bigger game Saturday at Michigan, in the regular-season finale.
The Spartans could clinch fourth place, and probably their 14th consecutive NCAA Tournament berth, with a win. Michigan could throw fourth place -- and NCAA qualification -- into a messy mishmash.
“Everybody knows our backs are against the wall,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “It seems like our backs have been against the wall for quite a while. And in fairness to the guys, that’s hard. Since the middle of January, when you’re trying to win a Big Ten championship and that’s slipping away from you, there’s pressure on that. Then you’re trying to get into the tournament, and there’s pressure on that.
“Then you go through a lot of things that we haven’t had to deal with around here. I could go back and say, ‘This team handled it that way,’ but I haven’t had many teams that have been in that position. A couple, but not many.”
Izzo seemed to guarantee a win against Michigan in the postgame senior night ceremony when he said “we’re gonna find a way to win Saturday and get you back where you belong, in the NCAA tournament.”
Later, in his press conference, he tempered the remarks he made to fans.
“No, no I didn’t say that,” Izzo said. “I said I’m looking forward to a big game at Michigan. There are no guarantees. If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, there are no guarantees on anything.
“It’s nice that it’ll be an important game, and I think we’re going to look forward to going down there. You feel a lot better going down there after a win than you would after a loss.”
Izzo added that “in a sick sort of way,” it’s exciting to be scrapping for a place in the tournament.