1. Foolish Consistency is the Hobgoblin of Conference Champions. On February 16 , Michigan State went to Indiana to face lame duck coach Kelvin Sampson, and, despite leading by double digits early in the first half, they lost the game by 19. Twelve days later, they scored a whopping 42 points in a loss at Wisconsin. Three days after that, they broke 100 for the first time all season and smoked those same Hoosiers by 29. (Guess Bloomington should have held on to the guy, huh?) They somehow led their conference in field goal percentage, but only managed to score 36 against lowly Iowa. (Yes, that was for one entire game.) They had only one non-conference loss all year (to then No. 1 UCLA), but blew winnable games against Penn State and Purdue and never had a shot at the Big Ten title. So what does it all add up to? Fuck the heck if I know. Come tourney time the Spartans could be done by the first weekend or go through to the final game and I wouldn't really be surprised either way. I'd lean toward the the latter though, because ...
2. Drew Neitzel is Ambidextrous! Bet you didn't know that! Oh wait, everyone knows that because the story of how Drew's loving high school hoops coach father bequeathed his son grit and determination by forcing him to brush his teeth left-handed is a weary color commentator's best friend. Unfortunately, if Drew does not become a NBA late-first-rounder, but instead becomes, say ... a liquor store holdup man, that exact same story will be used by Court TV reporters to demonstrate how his cruel and abusive father crushed a young boy's spirit in an effort to vicariously reclaim his broken athletic dreams through his son. Ain't sports grand?
3. Matt Steigenga, Kris Weshinskey, Jaime Feick. Tom Izzo spent 12 years as an assistant coach under Jud Heathcote, patiently waiting for his chance to take over the program. In the 13 years since then, the Spartans have far surpassed what fans could have ever hoped for in that previous dozen. Every four-year player since Izzo became head coach has played in at least one Final Four. These three former Spartans are not among them, because as much as I adore these fine gentlemen and their contributions to my personal sports memories, I'm not sure if they could crack the starting five of this current squad. (Also because Kenny Anderson is a lying cheater, but that's another story.) The point is this - I am old and grumpy, and even though I was in the student section the day Coach Izzo took over the reigns, I never got to see a Big Ten title won from those seats and I am still bitter about that. The more relevant point is that despite the underachievements noted above, this 2008 team is loaded with talent and few coaches prepare their players better than Izzo, so no untested middle-to-high seed should ever want to face them. Thanks to their beloved coach, Michigan State fans no longer hope ... we expect. He's not so much with the comedy, but the guy knows his basketball.