Spartans the "prom queen" again

With Big Ten Tournament title win, Michigan State sees the early season hype return to the team as it enters the NCAA Tournament as one of the favorites to win it all.

Given the weather outside and the hype around Michigan State basketball, it is hard to not think it is November.

With the Big Ten Tournament title in hand, the Spartans are back as the buzz of the college basketball world and among the most popular picks to win the NCAA Tournament.

"There are people who pronounced us dead a week ago," coach Tom Izzo said. "All of a sudden, we went from ugly duckling to prom queen."

Michigan State has played six games since the return of the tournament's most outstanding player Branden Dawson returned, but the three games in three days in Indianapolis were the first where the Spartans seemed to be getting closer to form.

So, naturally, the flashbacks to games like the Spartans' November win against Kentucky – at the time, No. 2 beating No. 1. – are on the mind's of those filling out brackets.

That is the kind of impact that winning the Big Ten Tournament can have, especially when it included wins over a pair of NCAA Tournament No. 2 seeds in Wisconsin and Michigan.

"I'm ecstatic that people think we're going to be good, but they thought that at the beginning of the year," Izzo said. "If you look at some of the things in the Big Ten, some of the teams that were picked early, everybody went through their rollercoasters."

That rollercoaster ride has brought the Spartans back to the top now, but the focus for Izzo now is on not letting it get to his players' heads as quickly as the success returned.

"It's hard for an 18, 19-, 20-year old to handle," he said. "I told them if it was me, I'd be checking that phone in at the local bank and put it back somewhere where it's locked up because I think we are going to have to deal with those things."

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