Michigan State Basketball: Just how good was Tom Izzo in the 2010s?

Tom Izzo, Michigan State basketball (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Tom Izzo, Michigan State basketball (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Legendary Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo was recently named the best in the Big Ten over the past decade. Just how good was he?

Tom Izzo was named the Big Ten’s coach of the decade by the Big Ten Network and no one outside of Ann Arbor is all that surprised.

The Hall of Fame head coach had one heck of a decade in East Lansing, kicking things off with a Final Four back in 2010. He then had more success than any head coach and was rivaled by the likes of Thad Matta, John Beilein and Bo Ryan. Some even argued Matt Painter deserved a look.

In the end, though, it was Izzo that got the nod and there weren’t too many debating to the contrary.

While Beilein or Matta or even Ryan would have been solid picks as coach of the decade, Izzo just made sense because his consistency was unmatched.

Just how good was Izzo in the 2010s?

What a decade it was for Michigan State and Izzo. Not only did he land more five-star recruits than he ever had before 2010, but he saw arguably the most success of his career.

Izzo made three Final Fours (2010, 2015, 2019) and four Elite Eights. On top of that, he made the Sweet 16 six times and only lost in the first round twice. The latter was in 2016 and it was the most shocking loss of his career as the No. 2 seeded Spartans fell to No. 15 Middle Tennessee in what looked like it was going to be Michigan State’s year.

The Hall of Fame coach went 128-56 in Big Ten play over the past decade and 264-95 overall. He won 25-plus games seven times (could have been eight if not for the 2020 NCAA Tournament’s cancellation).

On top of his on-court success, he had plenty of developmental triumphs as well. He sent 12 different players to the NBA (eight were drafted), developed seven All-Americans (and one Academic All-American), three Big Ten Players of the Year, two National Players of the Year, had six different players make first-team All-Big Ten and eight made second-team All-Big Ten, had two Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year winners, three Big Ten Freshman of the Year winners and two Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year recipients.

So how good of a decade did Izzo have? I’d say it was pretty great and that’s exactly why he’s in the Hall of Fame.

Others were deserving of “coach of the decade” honors, but Izzo was the right choice.

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