Blog Entry

Is Michigan State an Unhateable Team?

Posted on: March 31, 2010 2:37 pm
Edited on: March 31, 2010 2:37 pm


As Tom Izzo's crew, once thought to be disabled by guard Kalin Lucas' ruptured tendon, somehow continues to roll along in the NCAA Tournament, it dawns on me that while there are many reviled teams in this country (Kentucky seems particularly oft-hated, as does Duke, Kansas and North Carolina, among others), that it's rare to find a juggernaut of a college basketball team which, by and large, is extremely well-liked. Such would seem to be the odd case of Michigan State. Travel the country and you'll likely rarely hear "Michigan State? I HATE Michigan State." Yet there are reasons to hate them: they're consistently solid performers in regular season play and Big Ten postseason action, and have two NCAA Tourney trophies under their belts. For many sports fans, a good team has infinite hatability; after all, they may beat your team next. But why does Michigan State continue to slip through those cracks? And how has Michigan State emerged this season as one of the pluckiest, loved teams in the Final Four (even if they may be a dark horse)? Let's investigate.

Two words: Izzo, Tom. How can you dislike Tom Izzo? The man dresses like a war-torn Spartan to rile the fans, is loved beyond compare by the student body of Michigan State and can recruit the nose right off your face. But he's also taken a fifth-seeded team with a host of troubles and figured out how to get them to the Final Four. That's impressive. Add in the fact that you will never see a coach as despondent as Izzo after a loss (he's a notorious self-blamer) and the seemingly giddy high he seems to ride after a win, and the classic coach doesn't just seem like a guy you want coaching you on the court but a guy you wouldn't mind hanging out with off-court as well.

Good Kids. You can't not like this Spartan team. After superstar Kalin Lucas lost the rest of his season to a ruptured achilles tendon during an amazing win against Maryland during the second round of the tourney, even the experts thought the season was over. The experts were wrong, thanks to a rally by Lucas' teammates to sally forth without him. Just look at the grin on leader-to-be Korie Lucious' face as he inherits the mantle, witness the infectious elation of Draymond Green or the fistpumping of Raymar Morgan as they work absolutely harder than they've ever had to work before. Izzo is a good recruiter who recruits good kids, and as a result the Spartans are consistently likeable and rootable.

Classy fans. I've known a lot of Michigan State alumni and fans in my day, and I've never had one of them put their team in my face. That's quite impressive. I know, of course, there has to be a segment of over-rabid Spartan fans, but by my own microcosm I've yet to meet a State fan who wanted to convert me or compare accomplishments. Even the Izzone, for all its wildness, is amazingly polite and focused in its madness. Maybe it's that same midwestern sensibility that makes a city like Chicago so much more palatable than a New York, but I just don't have any beef with the Spartans. And if they have any beef with me, they're polite about it.

Has Michigan State garnered enough good karma to take them all the way? Will they continue to fuel themselves on good old-fashioned gumption and ingenuity? Will Izzo, that master commander, be able to continue creating strategy minute to minute until his crew is at the top of the heap? One thing's for sure: Michigan State is in this thing, and they've earned it. Where they go from here is their own decision.
Category: NCAAB

Since: Oct 10, 2007
Posted on: April 3, 2010 2:57 pm

Is Michigan State an Unhateable Team?

What about a member of the Spartan Marching Band being punched by a Michigan player's parent? We could play this game all day. That's how a rivalry works. He said it in the article, every fanbase has their crazies. Sadly, theirs is the news we normally end up hearing about.

For the record, I'm referring to the Izzone with most of this. The Michigan State Football Student section is hardly as reserved and focused in its "madness." They're generally just really drunk.

Since: Mar 5, 2008
Posted on: April 3, 2010 1:56 pm

Is Michigan State an Unhateable Team?

OK, OK, OK. I know I'm biased as well being from Ann Arbor and I agree completely about Izzo and the kids... but classy fans?? I have been to way too many games to agree with that. Put on Maize and Blue and tell me again how classy the fans are. Being spit upon, cursed at and threatened might sway my opinion. If I were a cop car I would have been flipped over and lit on fire. But then again, we know that.

Since: Feb 15, 2007
Posted on: April 3, 2010 11:51 am

Is Michigan State an Unhateable Team?

You know Tomlin, I was just saying this the other day, and I'm glad to see that someone else agrees with me. I'm an MSU grad student who's from NC and dislikes both Duke and Carolina (I'm an alum of Charlotte and Appalachian State who grew up a NC State fan), and I think your point about the fans is dead on. There are few people more obnoxious than Carolina fans- at last year's NCAA final celebration in Detroit, I had a Carolina fan from Montana (never even been to NC) talk junk to me because he thought I was stupid for growing up in NC and being an NC State fan. I think we may benefit from the fact that for some reason we don't get the outside fans that the other programs you mention have (ie those who choose MSU because they want to be fans of the best team). 

Since: Mar 13, 2007
Posted on: April 3, 2010 11:30 am

Is Michigan State an Unhateable Team?


great article.

I do however know one message board troll from that other Big 10 school down the road from MSU that will strongly disagree with every single word you have wriitten today. He has many aliases; tater, tateriffic, Spartyno, among them. I am going to save the link to your blog and begin to endlessly attach it to my reply to every one of his message board responses for the next, oh, decade or so.

thanks for the ammunition!

GO GREEN!!!!!!

Since: Dec 26, 2009
Posted on: April 1, 2010 2:39 pm

Is Michigan State an Unhateable Team?

I may be biased, as an MSU alum/fan but I agree with everything stated in this article... GO GREEN!

Since: Oct 5, 2008
Posted on: March 31, 2010 11:46 pm

Is Michigan State an Unhateable Team?

Touche!  Nice work Tommy!

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or