2. Marquette (March 19)
There were many people (not me) saying that Tom Izzo had lost his touch. The game had passed him by with NIL and transfer portals and he’ll never have success ever again for the history of time.
For a while and a few times this season, the looked to be true. There were multiple games where the presence of a true center, a rim protector, an experienced player over 6-foot-10 could have made all the difference in whether this team won or lost.
But Izzo stuck his guns. He preached defense, defense, defense when he could have easily had this team try to outscore their opponent every game.
But what happened when the Spartans’ outside shooting went cold? Defense and rebounding were the difference, and thanks all in part to Izzo, who is a Hall of Famer for a reason.
The Spartans started out hot, gave us some close drama in the middle, then gutted out the nine-point victory to make their first Sweet 16 in three years.