Michigan State Basketball NCAA Tournament & Final Four History

Denzel Valentine and Travis Trice of Michigan State. (Getty)

Denzel Valentine and Travis Trice of Michigan State. (Getty)

For the 7th time in his 20 years as head coach of the Michigan State Spartans, Tom Izzo has led a scrappy, well-coached group of players in green and white to the Final Four.

Just how impressive is that? Izzo tied Rick Pitino and Roy Williams — two Hall of Famers already — for 4th on the all-time Final Four appearances list for a coach behind Dean Smith (11), Mike Krzyzewski (12) and John Wooden (12) — Coach K also tied Wooden this year.

The first year Michigan State played basketball was 1898. The Spartans were first put on the map in 1957 when they made their 1st deep NCAA Tournament run and Final Four appearance — they lost to North Carolina in the National Championship Game in triple-overtime, and they would lose to North Carolina in the Championship Game 52 years later.

Led by former Los Angeles Lakers star and NBA Hall of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson, a Lansing native, the Spartans captured their 1st Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship in 1979 with a historic 75-64 win against Larry Bird and undefeated Indiana State — a rivalry which continued in the NBA.

The team was coached by Jud Heathcote who was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.

Izzo has already surpassed Heathcote — in November 2009, Izzo became the Spartans all-time wins leader with his 340th victory — and won a National Championship in 2000.

Here is a list of all of Michigan State’s NCAA Tournament accomplishments:

NCAA Tournament Appearances:

Years: 1957, 1959, 1978, 1979, 1985, 1986, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

Sweet 16 Appearances:

Years: 1957, 1959, 1978, 1979, 1986, 1990, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

Elite Eight Appearances:

Years: 1957, 1959, 1978, 1979, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2014, 2015

Final Four Appearances:

Years: 1957, 1979, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2015

Izzo is the only coach in history to lead at least three different teams at least a No. 5 seed or higher to the Final Four. He did that in 2005 (No. 5 seed), in 2010 (No. 5 seed) and this season. A 2nd championship would match Pitino, Williams and Florida’s Billy Donovan as the active head coaches who have won two championships. Coach K has won four championships.

The No. 7 seed Spartans will play the No. 1 Duke Blue Devils in the 1st National Semi-Final Game on Saturday evening.



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