Michigan State Athletics: 5 best things that happened in 2023

As the year comes to a close, it's a good time to reflect on the past 365 days. While Michigan State has had its share of heartbreak, and sorrow, and hopelessness, there have been some bright spots.

Champions Classic: Duke v Michigan State
Champions Classic: Duke v Michigan State / Michael Hickey/GettyImages
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Jaden Akins, Oso Ighodaro
Michigan State v Marquette / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

4. Michigan State basketball's Sweet 16 run

The issues that had plagued Tom Izzo’s recent teams looked to continue last year as the team went 2-5 during a brutal mid-to-late December schedule.

There was much talk about “just keep the streak alive” while more serious fans were looking for something more. This is a proud program whose lack of success was starting to wear on fans. It has been since 2019 that Izzo and his squad had made it past the first weekend, but the NCAA tournament gods smiled favorably upon the Spartans. They drew a first-round matchup against a USC team that never really threatened to upset MSU.

The real test was the second game against the 2-seeded Marquette Eagles. Marquette was coming off a Big East title and a top 10 AP ranking. MSU started out piping hot, peaking at a 12-point lead in the first half, only to take a 2-point lead into halftime. The Spartans and Eagles were neck and neck, with a one-point Spartan lead heading into the under-four timeout.

After Marquette, Shaka Smart led his team through a two-minute breathing exercise, the Spartans finished the game on a 13-6 run to win the game by nine. The weight of first-weekend disappointment had finally lifted with a team whose chemistry and drive had been in doubt for most of the season.

The Spartans were mere fingertips away from going further, but alas, a Sweet 16 berth was all that was in the cards for Izzo and the Spartans, and we all breathed a little easier for a while.