Michigan State, Tom Izzo await Hall of Fame battle with Syracuse, Jim Boeheim

DETROIT — Michigan State and Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo would love a rematch with Duke and Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski in the Midwest Regional semifinals on Friday. Izzo and the Spartans will first have to beat Syracuse and Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim to get that Sweet 16 rematch.

The No. 3-seeded Spartans (30-4) face No. 11 Syracuse (22-13) at 2:40 p.m. ET Sunday at Little Caesars Arena. This will be the sixth all-time meeting between Izzo and Boeheim and the first since 2010. The only time Michigan State and Syracuse have played in the NCAA Tournament came in 2000, a game the Spartans won 75-58 on their way to claiming the national championship.

It’s also the only time Izzo has gotten the better of Boeheim, and the Spartans had to come back from a double-digit deficit to pull away with the win in Auburn Hills. This game will again be played in friendly confines.

“I remember early on, we played at [Madison Square Garden] and must have had 20 turnovers against that zone,” Izzo said. “I remember the game at the Palace when we were down big and came back and won big.”

Izzo vs. Boeheim

Michigan State has lost its last four games against Syracuse. The Spartans will have to reverse that trend in order to advance to the Sweet 16 next week.

Season Site Result
2000 Auburn Hills, Mich. Michigan State 75-58 (NCAA Tournament)
2001 New York City Syracuse 69-58
2003 East Lansing, Mich. Syracuse 76-75
2004 Syracuse, N.Y. Syracuse 96-83
2010 New York City Syracuse 72-58

Izzo has never shied away from scheduling as tough a nonconference schedule as possible. It backfired on him in 2004 in a 96-83 loss at Syracuse.

“Probably one of the funnier games is, I think in 2003 or [200]4, I scheduled the world. I thought I was going to have — I did have a good team, but I lost a great big guy in Erazem Lorbek,” Izzo said. “And [Boeheim] said to me on the recruiting trail, ‘Are you crazy?’ Because I scheduled the world. T he last game of that preseason schedule was at Syracuse. He called me a better choice of words than knucklehead; you can figure out what words he used. And sure enough, they beat our brains in.”

The coaches have combined to win 1,398 games.

I knew Tom when he was an assistant coach,” Boeheim said. “He knew the game. He was a hard-charging guy. I knew when he took over Michigan State, he’d do a great job. I loved Jud Heathcote. Jud was a great coach, but he wasn’t the kind of recruiter that Tom would be and has become.  There was never any doubt that he’d be a great coach. He’s an absolutely — one of the great coaches we’ve ever had. And I think he’s even better off the court. He’s one of the nicest people I know.”

All that history makes for a good storyline, but within the game it also forces each side to be more focused. The reputation of each coach and the programs demand that attention to detail.

I think we all can appreciate from a Michigan State perspective that we’re playing against one of the greats,” said assistant coach Dane Fife. “Coach Boeheim has withstood the test of time and he’s been able to maintain a program at an elite level, so I think let’s respect and understand that it’s a great opportunity to play against a Hall of Famer and a program with the prestige that Syracuse has.

“The flip side is we’re not going to fear it. We’re going to respect it but we’re not going to fear it. We’re going to attack just like we would any program.  They have to do the same thing.”

The post Michigan State, Tom Izzo await Hall of Fame battle with Syracuse, Jim Boeheim appeared first on Land of 10.

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