The Spartans (21-12) got through the first weekend virtually unscathed, but Fridays opponent stands to be a little bit tougher. MSU will take on the defending champion Maryland Terrapins (21-9) on Friday at 10:00 p.m. in a South regional semifinal. Connecticut and Texas will play the earlier game in San Antonio.
MSU head coach Tom Izzo addressed the keys to the game and what he expects to see in only the second ever meeting with Maryland.
Izzo opening statement:
"As you can imagine youre very excited to still be playing at this time of year and when you come off a couple games where youve played maybe your basketball of the season, more than once, it gives you reason for optimism. The problem is were playing a team that we think is very good and has maybe that one factor in a NCAA tournament, two factors that really make a difference. One, experienced guys that have been there before and two, a point guard (Steve Blake) whos starting for four years and another one in (Drew) Nicholas whos had as good a year as anybody theyve had there. So their guard play has been exceptional, they have a coach thats been to two Final Fours, a team that plays awfully hard and has depth. Were running into a good team, but anybody you run into this time of year is going to be pretty good. Its a great region when you look at the four teams that are there, I think theyre four of the hardest playing teams in the country, and hopefully theyll be some great basketball."
Izzo on Maryland head coach Gary Williams:
"His teams play hard and if they dont he lets them know about it."
Izzo said Williams has a good relationship with his guys on and off the court and has the utmost respect for him. Izzo said he talked to Williams about two or three weeks ago.
Izzo on Blake running the show:
"Heres a guy who passes off the dribble like nobody Ive ever seen. We have to bother him. He doesnt shoot a lot, but he makes the big ones. Hes a consummate winner-type guy. He does whatever it takes to win."
Izzo on Marylands pressing defense:
"You still got to check them and you cant turn the ball over against that press and I hope the game is kind of high scoring, I dont want it to be a walk it up game, but I think if its in the 80s it hurts us, if its in the 70s Im fine with that."