One of college basketball’s most well-known postseason coaches, Tom Izzo has overseen the Michigan State Spartans for 24 years. Without a losing record to his name, Izzo has guided the Spartans to a winning percentage 72.4% over his career to go along with six Big Ten Tournament championships and nine regular-season Big Ten championships.
With such a strong coaching resume, it begs the question of just how many national championships the Michigan State coach has won.
How Many National Championships has Tom Izzo Won?
During his tenure as head coach of the Michigan State Spartans, Tom Izzo has an extremely impressive March Madness track record. One of the more impressive stats is the fact that Izzo has only missed the NCAA tournament twice during his 24-year reign – both in his first two seasons.
- National Championships: 1 (2000)
- Final Four Appearances: 7 (1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2015)
- NCAA Tournament Appearances: 22
Considering the number of times Izzo has not only made the tournament but advanced Michigan State to the Final Four, it is a bit of a surprise to see that Izzo only has one national championship that came nearly two decades ago. However, Izzo has the 2018-2019 group clicking on all cylinders heading into an Elite Eight showdown with national powerhouse and top overall seed Duke.
Tom Izzo & Michigan State’s Chances Against Duke
While Duke comes into the matchup a little banged up (Cam Reddish) and on the heels of two VERY close calls to UCF and then Virginia Tech, they still possess the single most influential player in the NCAA. Zion Williamson has been stellar in the tournament, averaging 26.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game. On the defensive side, Williamson is averaging over a block and steal per game.
Williamson’s size and athleticism make him a nightmare matchup for any program and the fact that MSU’s Nick Ward is limited to coming off the bench will be an issue. While by no means as athletic as Zion, Ward is a very sturdy body down low and possesses the lateral quickness to be a problem on the defensive side. There really isn’t any stopping Zion but Izzo and Michigan State will need Ward to put up some monster defensive minutes off the bench should he draw the task of matching up with Zion.
UCF and Virginia Tech showed off the blueprint to take down Duke – sag off the three-point line, collapse on Zion, and force Duke’s other players to beat you. Duke doesn’t have the necessary three-point shooting to spread the floor which has resulted in a tough time for anyone outside of Zion to get going. RJ Barrett had a stronger second half against VT but has still shown to be incredibly inconsistent as a shooter and has been forced into taking more mid-range jumpers.
That said, slowing down Duke’s offense is only one part of the equation. While they are typically comfortable pushing the pace in transition and outscoring their opponents, Duke has the skillset to lock down defensively and make life miserable on their opponents. With Tre Jones harassing opposing point guards up and down the court and Zion flying around on help defense, Duke forces a ton of turnovers and teams are often scared to go inside with Zion lurking.
It will be a tough task for Michigan State but things all start with keeping Zion Williamson in check. If they can do that, Michigan State might just be able to exploit Duke’s weaknesses and come away with the win.