COLUMBUS, Ohio (WOOD) — For a quarter century, Michigan State University’s Tom Izzo has been synonymous with the NCAA Tournament. He made his mark this week as the first head coach to make 25 straight appearances at the Big Dance.
“Now if that puts more pressure on us, then we’re gonna see how we adjust to more pressure,” said Izzo of his 1998 team.
In 2023, his message remains the same.
“Let me tell you something. It is pressure. That’s why only a few teams move on,” he said this year.
If there’s one team that knows how to handle the pressure, it’s a Tom Izzo team. Twenty-five straight NCAA tournament appearances are a testament to just that.
“He knows what it takes to get there. Each and every team is different, but he holds them accountable to reach that goal and then once you get in the tournament anything can happen,” said Spartan alum Drew Nieztel.
Nietzel was a freshman in 2005, when MSU made a run to the Final Four. The expectations were just as high then as they are now.
“That was early in the streak. I know it’s been 25 years in a row, but even then, it was a 7, 8, 9-year streak, so even back then guys were talking about it. It was known that we didn’t want to be the team to end the streak. It’s been a remarkable run, and I’m proud to be a Spartan and proud of the Spartan family,” he said.
Other former Spartans, like Matt Steigenga, remember the earlier years of the Izzo era, when he was just an assistant coach with the team.
“I often get asked the question, did I think Tom was going to be a great head coach? I knew he could recruit, but I never knew he’d have the success he does today,” he said. “To his credit, I think he’s built this mystique now that other teams are intimidated by — and other teams might see that as a challenge … but it’s the preparation. It’s the work. I’m not sure he sleeps until he loses.”
That doesn’t happen very often for Izzo in the postseason. His resume includes eight final fours and a National Title. Izzo’s son, Steven, a current MSU guard, was born two months after the title game in 2000. For Steven Izzo, some of his fondest memories are made in March.
“What I vividly remember is for a month straight, I would never be in school, but my teachers were all okay with it. So it’s always been a lifelong goal of mine to make a run to a Final Four, win a national championship, just be a part of the NCAA tournament, and fulfilling that … every time we get out here it’s one of the greatest things ever,” he said.