NEW YORK (WOOD) — The Michigan State basketball team is preparing to face off against Kansas State at Madison Square Garden for the Sweet 16.
On Wednesday, the Spartans were the first Sweet 16 team to take the court at Madison Square Garden to practice, as they get a feel for the court ahead of their matchup. It was a quick turnaround for the team, which played Sunday in Columbus, went back to East Lansing, then got on a flight to New York Tuesday night.
“There is the thrill of playing here, when you talk to, for us, the Steve Smiths, the Magic Johnsons, there’s nothing like ‘the mecca,’ there’s nothing like Madison Square Garden,” MSU head coach Tom Izzo said. “So when we have the opportunity to play here, I always talk about it as a privilege.”
The Spartans, looking to book a trip to the Elite Eight, will tip off at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Madison Square Garden, one of the most iconic venues in all of sports.
“It’s still cool, I’ve played here a lot being in the Big East, the Big East Tournament is always here,” Joey Hauser said. “But once the ball tips I think it goes away a little bit, because your so focused on the game, but there’s no better place to do it than here.”
The Spartans are no stranger to the venue, where they’ve played several times before, including a game against Rutgers back in February.
“Honestly I think it reminds me how much I would hate to live in a big city, just because of how crazy it is, but I think it’s really cool to see the tourist attractions,” Carson Cooper said. “It’s cool to be in a bigger city every once in a while.”
The team is excited for the opportunity and their matchup against Kansas State.
“We are very happy to be here. … There’s only 16 teams left, so you’ve got to enjoy it. Definitely happy to be here,” MSU’s Mady Sissoko said. “Every single game you play is getting harder. … We want to have fun with it, we’re definitely exciting to be here. We are one of those 16 teams, it didn’t just happen like that, we worked for it and we’re very excited to be here.”
— News 8’s Madalyn Buursma contributed to this report.