Well, it's finally here. Final Four eve. Or, by the time this goes up, Final Four day.
I have that tingly feeling inside. And for some reason, I'm oddly calm. Which, in turn, sort of scares me than the actual matchup.
While reading all the information, hype and stories featuring pictures of Hasheem Thabeet wearing balloon hats, I realized that I don't know much about these Michigan State Spartans. Like most Big East fans, I find the Big Ten to be unwatchable. And until the league introduced the 3-point line this season, most Big Ten fans couldn't bare it, either.
So after thinking of ways to contribute this week, I decided to do some research in order to bring back the "Know the foe"-type feature I did on the Chattanooga Mocs way back in Round 1. I originally planned for this to be a two-part series, with part one focusing on the school and part two on the team and its makeup. But things happen, and since Porter and Meacham are both making the trip to Motown, this is all you got.
So enjoy this melting pot of facts about Michigan State University, a look at the team's statistics and several irrelevant jokes that may or may not involve Charlie Villanueva 's Twitter feed.
These are their stories ...
School: Michigan State University
Location: America, USA
Team Name: Spartans
Regular-season Record: 26-6, 15-3 Big Ten (1st)
Coach: Tom H-to-the-Izzo, 14th year (335-136), 1-3 in Final Fours
How they got here: Every other Big Ten team ran out of peach baskets and were disqualified for the regular-season title.
Tournament history:47-21 in 22 appearances, two national titles
Will you be making any "300" jokes/references?
God, no. And if anyone makes one in the comments field, you're banned.
(I'm only 1/8 joking.)
Is this team an emotional underdog?
As you may know, there's this whole depression thing going on. And Michigan has been hit pretty baldy, with the state's unemployment rate in the double-digits after the fall of the auto industry.
Many are rallying around the team and its success as a ray of hope.
And if you weren't teary-eyed yet, you should know that everyone of the Spartans used to work in the coal mines; they all own three-legged dogs (although Izzo also has a crossed-eyed ferret); play tough, gritty defense; overcame the mean streets to make something of themselves; and indulge in Freedom Fries before every game
Do this school consider hockey to be a sport?
In fact, both hockey and basketball are so popular at Michigan State most fans were unable to tell which sporting event they were attending. To solve the problem, the school hired Charles Schulz to design the floor graphics for the Breslin Center.
Has this school ever pioneered any studies?
I'm glad you asked.
There's a lot to like about Michigan State: A strong athletics program ... other stuff.
But if you've ever needed another reason to have more man-love for the Spartans look no further. Because without Michigan State University, there would be no packaged meat.
Yup, that's right. You probably thought it takes a skilled butcher to Reynolds wrap some raw meat. But it takes a mere degree from Michigan's state institution to hone the art of using tin foil.
Somehow stumbled upon this Asian fellow with an impressive hat collection while searching for meat photos. I think you'll all agree I made the right choice here.
And if they hadn't contributed enough to society already, the school also pioneered the study of telecommunication.
One might think it's easy to use a telephone. But State takes it to a whole new level. Almost as if the rhythm is the bass and the bass is the treble.
Ever wonder who takes the time to set up mobile versions of websites such as ESPN.com for phones and iPods? And sets it up so you can read half of one article and only look at your fantasy team but not make any changes to it? More than likely, it was a Michigan State grad.
Some - most, even - would calls such "pioneering" to be quite frivolous. But show me a world without packaged sausage links and iPhones, and I'll show you a world I don't want to live in.
Other interesting facts/observations
- Apparently a Michigan State professor invented homogenization. So I guess we should all thank the school for inventing ours.
- To prepare you in advance, Tom Izzo's wife, Lupe, shows little emotion and is truly the rock of the family. She will be shown on camera -- let's say, eight times. I'll be keeping track.
- The school says it's well-endowed. But I've heard otherwise.
- I can't wait until Tom Izzo leaves so the student section can stop calling itself the "Izzone." It's really not that clever, guys. (Seriously, though, I wish UConn had half the school spirit Michigan State fans have.)
- I'm just gonna end the debate now: Javon Ringer is not a better point guard than A.J. Price.
- Price's dad, Tony, and Penn lost to Michigan State in the 1979 Final Four. Time to avenge some honor, Anthony Jordan. LOTR style.
- Tim Allen is the director of operations for the football team
Not the good one. But a man can dream ... (As an aside, did you know that Tim Allen wasn't even born in Detroit? I was shocked. I feel like my whole life was a lie.)
- Goran Suton sounds like a Pokemon. (Go-Ran! Go-Ran!)
- This is the greatest photo I've ever seen.
- Is there any school we haven't played this tournament that wasn't at one point called the Aggies? (State changed to Spartans in 1925)
- Although cool looking, Michigan State's mascot, Sparty, may have a worse name than UConn's mascot, Jonathan. Actually, nevermind.
- Sparty uses performance-enhancing drugs.
- According to the Michigan State game notes, the Spartans are playing closer to home than any other Final Four team since Kansas in 1988. The Jayhawks won the title that year. Awesome.
- Michigan State is the eight-largest university in the country. Just kind of interesting.
- Former Detroit News columnist Rob Parker is a big fan of the Spartans.
- Seriously, Sparty? Who are you trying to impress with that kilt? We get it -- your calves are huge.
- Mateen Cleaves is the only player Khalid El-Amin has called fat.
Kalin Lucas (6-0, 180 lbs.), So., PG
Regular Season: 31.7 mpg; 14.8 ppg; 4.6 apg
NCAA tournament: 31.2 mpg; 12.8 ppg; 5.5 apg; 40.5 FG %: 94.4 FT %
The Big Ten POY may be the quickest player on the court Saturday and looks like a budding star. Can distribute or drive, and has a solid mid-range jumper. Shoots 81.4 pct. From the line.
Travis Walton (6-2, 190 lbs.), Sr., G
Regular Season: 28.3 mpg; 5.2 ppg; 3.3 apg
NCAA tournament: 26.5 mpg; 7.0 ppg; 2.5 apg; 41.4 FG %; 100 FT % (4-for-4)
Not much to see here. Walton, the '09 Big Ten Defensive POY seems to be a Craig Austrie-like role player. Has broken double-digit points twice since in the new year, but can shutdown a team's best player.
Durrell Summers (6-4, 195 lbs.), So., F
Regular Season: 21.6 mpg; 8.9 ppg; 3.2 rpg
NCAA tournament: 23.5 mpg; 8.8 ppg; 4.8 rpg; 63.2 FG %; 66.6 FT %
Extrememly athletic player who can be a real threat on offense by attacking the rim. Second on the team during the regular season with 42 made 3s (see chart below).
Raymar Morgan (6-8, 225 lbs.), Jr., F
Regular Season: 23.6 mpg;11.2 ppg; 5.9 rpg
NCAA tournament: 15 mpg; 5.75 ppg (2.3 the last three rounds); 2.5 rpg; 30.7 FG %; 60.0 FT %
Morgan missed about a month with walking pneumonia and has yet to regain the form he started the season with. Good in the low post as well as outside and can draw fouls. Leads the team in offensive rebounds. Will wear a protective mask for a broken nose.
Goran Suton (6-10, 240 lbs.), Sr., F/C
Regular Season: 25.1 mpg; 9.5 ppg; 7.5 rpg
NCAA tournament: 29.0 mpg; 14.3 ppg; 11.5 rpg; 42.2 FG %; 87.5 FT
Has the versatility to score inside and out, and can hit the 3. Has drawn raves revues for his tourney performance thus far, as he has caused matchup nightmares and helped control the boards
Chris Allen (6-3, 205 lbs.), So., G
Regular Season: 18.9 mpg; 8.8 ppg; 2.3 rpg
NCAA tournament: 20.5 mpg; 6.8 ppg; 2.25 apg; 32.0 FG %; 100 FT % (6-for-6); 33.3 3PT %
Allen is one of the team's best long-range shooters and makes up more than 27 percent of State's 3s made. An 80 percent FT shooter that is another weapon on offense.
Delvon Roe (6-8, 225), Fr., F
Regular Season: 18.4 mpg; 6.2 ppg; 5.5 rpg
NCAA tournament: 14.3 mpg; 4.0 ppg; 2.0 rpg; 60.0 FG %; 57.1 FT %
A five-star recruit that shows flashes. Will probably be the star of the team in a year or two, but now only provides another athletic driver who can help on the glass.
Points per game: 71
Points allowed: 62.7
Scoring margin: +8.3FG percentage: .455
FG allowed: .414
3PT percentage: .353
3PT allowed: .316
3PT-to-FG attempts: .262
FT percentage: .686
FT totals: 512/746
Rebound margin: +1.4
Turnover margin: +1.0
Assist-to-turnover ratio: 1.13:1
Assist-to-FG ratio: 0.63:1
Charlie Villanueva's take on the game (via twitter.com/cv31)
"four final the win will Uconn ( read it backwards)"