Izzo: "This will be my most important BTT"

Spartans coach stresses games, practices and time important heading to Indianapolis for what he says is the most important Big Ten Tournament he has had as a coach.

It isn't every year that the Big Ten Tournament has a major bearing on Michigan State's season, but in this case, coach Tom Izzo held nothing back on his feelings.

"This will be my most important Big Ten Tournament," he said.

How the Spartans do in the tournament will have an impact on seeding for the NCAA Tournament, but that's not what makes it big for Izzo and his team.

This year's event is of importance for the sake of rhythm after an injury-riddled regular season.

"I think it's big that we get to play some games," Izzo said. "This team needs to keep practicing and playing together. I think our players are kind of excited about it."

With days of practice remaining before heading to Indianapolis, the Spartans' coach said the time in East Lansing will be good for his team – and will contain plenty of film sessions.

"We'll continue to show them what they have done," he said. "That we're not trying to reinvent the wheel, we're just trying to bring back some of the magic we had early in the year when we had everybody playing together.

The Spartans open at 9:30 p.m. Friday – the final first-round game – against the winner of No. 6 Iowa and No. 11 Northwestern.

A win likely would lead to a semifinal matchup with No. 2 seed Wisconsin, which beat Michigan State the teams' lone meeting.

While winning the tournament remains the goal from the preseason, getting wins just to keep playing is as important as anything now the postseason has arrived.

"It's very important," senior Adreian Payne said. "Winning games gives your team confidence and builds chemistry and makes you feel better. That's what you definitely need going into the tournament."

Izzo, again, was not shy about using superlatives to label this tournament.

" I don't think any tournament could mean more to Michigan State than this one," he said. "Maybe one year we needed to win a game to make sure we're in the tournament, that would have been a big year. But this one's bigger because we need to play games, we need to keep playing together.

"If we can put the whole package together we have just as good a shot to win this as anybody."

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