COLUMBUS, Ohio – Michigan State was attending one of its many planning meetings late Friday night in preparation for its NCAA Tournament second round game against Marquette when it began to hear screams coming from the hall of the his team’s hotel.
Someone quickly interrupted the Spartans’ meeting to explain why everyone was screaming: Purdue was about to suffer one of the biggest upsets in NCAA tournament history.
Michigan State players and staff were able to tune in just in time to see one end to one of the most shocking upsets in NCAA tournament history: the No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson 63, No. 1 seed Purdue 58, the second time in tournament history that a No. 16 seed has beaten a No. 1 seed.
However, as Tom Izzo watched it unfold, his reaction was different than the majority of Michigan State fans.
“We all felt bad,” Izzo said. “They are in our range and we felt bad because you don’t want this to happen to anyone.
Izzo said he spoke to Purdue coach Matt Painter late Friday night after the result. Although Izzo has never lost to a No. 16 seed, he lost to No. 15 seed Middle Tennessee State in 2016 with a team that had national title potential.
He shared this experience with Painter.
“I’ve been on that side,” Izzo said. “That’s what I said to Matt, I was on that side against Middle Tennessee. And that night I thought we played really well. I think we shot really well. Just someone else played a little better and that’s going to happen sometimes.
Izzo and Painter are the two longest-serving coaches in the Big Ten, and Painter brought the Boilermakers into the most cohesive program in the conference outside of East Lansing. Purdue won the regular season and Big Ten tournament titles and the Boilermakers were both in the East Region with Michigan State and at its first weekend venue.
“We’re close as a staff,” Izzo said. “And I have so much respect for Matt. But our players know each other quite well. And I think it still hits differently.
The Big Ten had more winners than losers in the first round of the tournament: Michigan State, Indiana, Maryland, Penn State and Northwestern all moved, while Purdue, Iowa and Illinois were eliminated.
But the Boilermakers represented the conference’s best shot at a national title, as the only school ranked above No. 4. This will only reinforce the narrative that the Big Ten are underperforming in the NCAA Tournament; the conference has not won a national title since Michigan State in 2000.
Michigan State hopes this will be the team that makes a deep run in this tournament. Izzo hopes Purdue’s result will be a wake-up call for his team, but he admitted that is unlikely to happen.
“Right now we’re in a time where nobody thinks anything is happening to them,” Izzo said. “They are all supermen. They’ve all been told most of their lives how good they are. And so I think it’s more difficult.
“Now some of that is necessary. You have to be a little arrogant to be good. You have to be a little confident to be good. But nothing like going through it. »